“I see a future where there are no male or female entrepreneurs, but just entrepreneurs”

Cindy Kua

Cindy Kua is an experienced hand in the insurance industry, having spearheaded the overall transformation of the sector in Southeast Asia.

In 2018, she founded Sunday, a fully-integrated sales and services InsurTech that offers personalised insurance products and services. In September last year, Thailand-based Sunday announced a $9 million pre-Series B bridge round led by SCB 10X, the venture capital arm of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB). Existing investors including Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India, Quona Capital, and new investor LINE Ventures also participated in this funding round.

Cindy Kua was among the 12 women (co-)founders interviewed for our latest report Women in Startups: The SE Asia Edition. She shared her experience as a woman entrepreneur in Southeast Asia

Edited excerpts:

Do you think it’s hard to get external funding as a solo woman founder?

I think funding is difficult for any startup to begin with, regardless of gender. Certain industries like fintech are still male-dominated but I feel investors these days won’t immediately write off women founders. Instead, they would be even more curious about the founder’s story and how they came to build a diverse team.

I personally think it’s a plus point to be a woman leader these days. It still boils down to the founder’s vision, execution, and how she attracts talent. The perception that women founders find it harder to find external funding is simply not true from my experience.

How long did it take you to get funding from Vertex, and how has the pitching journey been?

From our experience so far, funding typically takes 3-8 months, from the first engagement until closing, and depends on how deep a prospective investor performs her commercial assessment, managing due-diligence and negotiation processes. Our pitching journey typically comprises our product vision and positioning, commercial and go-to-market strategy, execution, and how all these translate into our financial projections and funding needs.

Our investor is not just Vertex but also Line Ventures, SCB10X, Quona Capital, and OSK-SBI.

The share of startups with women founders has increased slightly in SE Asia over the last decade, based on Crunchbase data. Do you think the statistics reflect what you are observing?

From my observation in Thailand and SE Asia, I do come across more women founders than before but it is limited to certain industries like lifestyle, leadership coaching, fashion and design, and news media. Many other industries are known to be male-dominated like fintech, healthcare, and mobility.

Do you think participating in entrepreneurs’ ecosystems or accelerator programmes helped you?

I think participation always challenges founders to keep thinking if their business model is defensible. We need to always remind ourselves of what’s our true objective and positioning.

Do you see a future where there are more women entrepreneurs and women VCs?

I believe that the gender ratio in the future within this space will continue to shift. I see a future where there are no male or female entrepreneurs, but just entrepreneurs.

To read more such interviews and access data like the share of capital that flowed to women-led startups in SE Asia, refer to our Research & Analytics report.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.