Carina, you have been mentoring the startups in our Incubation Program in Singapore. Can you provide examples of how your skills, experience and network support the startups?
As I have gone through many of the challenges of a startup myself by building the Asian business line for our Fintech, I can help startups navigating the business development, sales and project management part in a targeted and resource optimised way. For example, by asking questions about the product/service USP, the target user, the target buyer (the one who sits on the budget), partners who can vouch and can be an enabler and requirements for an easy demo environment where interested users can play around (if possible). All In all, just to ensure resources are allocated efficiently and effectively.
What should every tech entrepreneur know? Do you have any personal advice for pre-seed startups?
My advice is to think about who your first client shall be and how you can gain their feedback and trust. A first natural gateway is your network; you should think about who from your network could provide access to those first potential clients. Then, listen to your prospects, identify their challenges, and evaluate how a solution can tackle those.
What do you consider to be the three most important characteristics of successful teams?
Based on my interactions with different startups, I have identified two, shared objective and team spirit. On the one hand, a shared objective where everyone works on activities to achieve a shared vision and tangible objectives unites the team, and on the other hand, a team in which everyone is willing to support each other. Teaming-up and developing solutions together is more powerful as the collective know-how than the individualist’s experience. It requires the know-how and experience from individuals at the same time to bundle this with other smart minds and allows to develop more holistic solutions which are thought through from different angles.
In your opinion, what are the biggest stumbling stones for tech entrepreneurs in Asia? How do you recommend overcoming them?
As one of the typical stumbling stones for tech startups, I have seen great ideas that have been developed without a clear target client in mind. This lack of clarity translates into slower lead generation and in fact, it takes much longer until a tech-preneur can write their first invoice than the majority expects.
Here, I would like to emphasise again the importance of having a clear target user in mind. This entails that you are aware what challenge(s) your product is addressing of this user. In a next step, think about who takes the buying decision for such a product and how the demand for your solution can be triggered via the user with the original challenge(s).This is especially true for a B2B business case. Start with a prototype which can be easily tested by interested parties to assess the appetite for your product. In short, test and build a product your client really wants.
You were a one-on-one mentor for HedgeSPA. Why had you selected this startup and how has working with the team been?
It was a match based on business experience and I enjoyed the collaboration and sharing my own experience and support the company along their journey. Moreover, as a mentor, it gives so many insights and I draw valuable conclusions for my own area of responsibility.
What have been the three main take-aways from your time as a startup mentor for F10?
Being a mentor gives great insights on the pulse of the Fintech ecosystem. Besides, it generates valuable contacts through an inspiring and like-minded community. And maybe most importantly, it helps to reflect on the own journey and become clearer on critical factors for a successful path which again can be shared with others.