Since the recent USD 200 million exit of Viki in Singapore to Rakuten, many companies keen to tap on the Singapore startup eco-system and funding have been coming to Singapore to set up shop. The Singapore government has extended several schemes to boost the funding eco-system in Singapore and to attract startup companies/founders to Singapore which is a laudable effort and a good step in the right diretion.
Having spoken to many venture capitalists and startups during the course of my work and looking at how they exited and were organised, I have three ideas that startup founders can consider to super charge their startup efforts:
1. The founding team has to be top-notch
Each startup needs to figure out what its core business is and find a team that can fulfill that vision of what it is in business for. A strong CEO, Coding head and a finance person is key for every startup to realize such a vision. Ideally you should have a cross national team or people with knowledge of more than one large market (i.e. Singapore is not a large market. See the paragraph below).
2. The Vision of a Startup has to Be USA, China or India Focused
A startup needs to have a US, China or India focused strategy no matter whether it is located in Singapore or elsewhere otherwise you will not get good valuations when seeking investors. In Viki whilst it was located in Singapore (as it is cheaper place to do business than in the US, the founders were keenly aware that the market was the US market). That’s why you need to spend your energies forming a cross function/cross geographical (see above) team.
3. The Market that the Startup Focuses on has to be a large one
By market we mean a specific demographic group in a particular country. Many people have untargeted business ideas and intend to sell to everyone. That results in the business dying a premature death as the initial funding would have run out and the revenue would not cover the expenses of the startup.
Find a targeted niche market first to establish a cash cow revenue stream then once that is in place look for other niches to expand into. Obviously if you are the largest in your niche market you are in a great and advantageous position.
Singapore is a great place to do business, but as long as the founders of a startup have the big picture in mind, the sky is the limit.
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