Singapore & Southeast Asia’s Series A Crunch

A lot has been said about the funding situation in Singapore. Over the years, it has become the dead horse that tech investors and entrepreneurs idly flog whilst watching their peers in financial services, real estate and F&B get wealthier and more successful. Reuters joined in on the collective flogging last week by declaring that Singapore’s quest to become a hotbed for entrepreneurs was stuck at the first stage. I eagerly perused the article, hoping for more wisdom from Reuters than the usual Singapore Press Holdings fare, only to go away disappointed and none the wiser.

Reuters might have picked on Singapore this time round, but other Southeast Asian countries aren’t faring any better either. I don’t have hard data to back my statement up, but if you’ve been around the block enough, you’ll know that professional Seed and/or Series A funding are non-existent or can be hard to come by in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

Reality can’t be changed with more strokes on the severely mutilated horse carcass. Our collective action in the right direction might. Here’s what it might look like:

Action by entrepreneurs to:

  • assemble A-teams that build, measure and iterate on your products and services in a capital-efficient manner
  • pursue scalable opportunities with a large regional market
  • seek monetization that is both realistic and addressable

Action by investors to:

  • raise funds from limiteds with risk profiles reflecting the nature of tech investing
  • bridge your investments post-Seed, instead of pining away for the ever-elusive Series A investor to carry your investment forward
  • form trusted and complementary investment syndicates to actively co-invest in and work on start-ups together.

Action by the community to:

  • call out the black sheep amongst us so we can avoid them like lepers
  • embrace and celebrate failure as much as we celebrate every bit of success
  • to work with each other’s egos and not against.

Even then, we’re all going to have to be patient. George Harrison says it best.

(I got my mind set on you) x 4

But its gonna take money
A whole lotta spending money
Its gonna take plenty of money
To do it right child

Its gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
Its gonna take patience and time, um
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it,
To do it right child

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15″ Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.