FundedHere, a Singaporean equity crowdfunding portal facilitating equity investments as low as S$5000 per investor and short-term lending for startup ventures launched today. Alongside this is Sniffr.sg, a crowdfunding initiative for Singaporean designers, is also set to launch soon.
Crowdfunding has emerged as a global phenomenon, with millions of dollars in funding raised via platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo,for projects by entrepreneurs, inventors and designers seeking financial capital. The use of these crowdfunding platforms serves both to market and to validate, the product, while concurrently raising funds.
However, in Singapore and Southeast Asia, crowdfunding is relatively underdeveloped. Crowdfunding portals are still largely reward or donation-based, with businesses or non-profits providing incentives to investors or donors. As they do not involve securities or financial returns, they are not subject to financial regulation – something which will undoubtedly change as the crowdfunding space matures in the region.
Two new crowdfunding platforms entering this space are FundedHere and Sniffr.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently published a consultation paper evaluating the facilitation of securities-based crowdfunding (SCF) as an alternative funding source for startups and SMEs. Initially, SCF will involved only accredited and institutional investors, more sophisticated investors with larger sums.
Leveraging on Singapore’s growing wealth management sector, business environment, legal infrastructure and growing startup ecosystem, FundedHere was unveiled to the public today by Andy Lim, founder and chairman of private equity firm Tembusu Partners and the MoneyWorld Group of Companies, a financial services corporation with offices in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand.
FundedHere is designed as a crowdfunding portal targeted at investors and lenders willing to invest or lend to startups – an action with high risk attached – with a minimum amount of S$5000 each, for up to 12 months. The platform is subject to legal approval from MAS, hence the lack of a clear date regarding its official launch. With the intention of bridging and bringing entrepreneurs and investors,
Speaking about the formation of FundedHere, Lim stated: “The spirit of crowdfunding is to tap multi-levels of investment or lending in order to fund innovative start-ups, which have unique technology or creative content but are unlikely to receive traditional bank loans. Mainly because they do not have financial assets or a business track record. […], Singapore is an exceptional springboard for crowdfunding projects in the region. FundedHere will build up an eco-system for start-ups which will combine innovators, investors, mentors, talent and partners who can help bring the ideas or products to the global market.”
Industry veterans and startup experts who have agreed to act as mentors for investee companies of FundedHere include Elim Chew, founder and president of 77th Street, Lim Soon Hock, founder and managing director of Plan-B and Prof. Wong Poh Kam, the founder of NUS Enterprise.
Lead investors for FundedHere comprise of business leaders that include Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2014, Susan Chong, the CEO of Geenpac; Joseph Foo, executive chairman of Jason Marine Group and Patrick Lieu, a serial investor and entrepreneur.
FundedHere has also initiated informal discussions with industry partners such as Exploit Technologies, NUS Enterprise and Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), leveraging on the immense level of social capital and knowledge these institutions and individuals possess.
Meanwhile, Sniffr.sg,launched by OTTO Solutions and led by Andy Lai, its CEO and founder, will target the design space. With a soft launch scheduled for 9 March 2015 at the National Design Centre, Sniffr aims to close the gap between the consumers and designers.
This was motivated in part by the experience of Lai, who often encountered design works overlooked by the market due to a lack of funds, exposure or production expertise.
As part of the platform, strategic partnerships and a mentorship programme will be available to designers on-board the platform, allowing them to maximise the potential and reach of their design venture. Designer Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS), Singapore’s multidisciplinary design chamber and LASALLE College of the Arts, Faculty of Design, Product Design Programme are among the partners pledging their collaboration with Sniffr.
Designers using sniffr.sg platform can look forward to participating in DBCS’s various design events, as well as submitting their designs in a bid to win the prestigious Singapore Good Design Mark Awards. Likewise, LASALLE is converging efforts with sniffr.sg, incorporating the system as a component in their student’s final year projects.
Sniffr intends to change this, by signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with various strategic partners in the design space, to consolidate and congregate resources into a single platform. It also plans to maintain a mentorship programme option for designers, with industry veterans like Tai Lee Siang, the president of DBCS, designer Hendra Sutedjo, Rodney Loh of NexOfKin Creatives and acclaimed Chilean lightning designer Paulina Villalobos.
Lai is anticipating subsequent design ventures, following the combined effort in propelling Singapore’s designers onto the mass-market. He commented “Until all isolated design-related enterprises are consolidated and merged with sniff.sg platform will it then truly be a hallmark of success in the local design scene.”