“It’s not hard to get external funding when there are so many women-focused funds”

Green Butcher Meat founders Helga Angelina and Max Mandias.

Helga Angelina is an impact entrepreneur passionate about health, wellness, and the environment. She founded Burgreens in 2013 and Green Butcher in 2020 with her husband Max Mandias. Green Butcher is a plant-based food startup that focuses on the unique culinary experience of Indonesian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Burgreens is a plant-based eatery chain in Indonesia.

In February this year, Green Butcher completed a $2 million seed funding round led by Singapore-based venture capital firm Teja Ventures and global alternative protein investor Unovis Asset Management.

Helga Angelina 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 woman founder?

I co-founded both Burgreens and Green Butcher with my husband Max [Mandias]. I don’t think it’s hard to get external funding especially when there are many women-focused funds out there, but I realised women founders tend to be more conservative in making projections and asking for valuation. Female founders ask for valuation based on traction, while male founders ask for valuation based on projected growth. It’s useful for us, female founders, to get a sanity check from more experienced founders before finalising a pitch deck to make sure we get the right valuation.

How long did it take for you to obtain your first external funding (if any)?

For Burgreens, we bootstrapped for two years and started working with angel investors in our third year. We saved up for almost a year while working in the Netherlands, to start the business in Indonesia. For Green Butcher, we raised our seed round in the first year of operations from institutional investors.

The share of startups with women founders seems to have increased slightly in SE Asia over the last decade. Does it reflect what you are observing in your country?

Absolutely. Especially with the rising awareness of wellness, F&B, and social impact enterprises. Businesses in these fields almost always have a female founder or co-founder.

Do you think that participating in any entrepreneurs’ ecosystems has helped?

Yes, it helps broaden our perspective and accelerates our learning curves. We get to learn from different mentors too, and reflect on what kind of business leader we want to be as our business scales. I remember joining Endeavor Indonesia programmes and Entrepreneurs’ Organization Accelerator really changed the way I grow my business.

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

Yes! I look around and I almost always see diversity in VCs we speak with. There are more and more successful stories of female founders and female leaders who made it to the top — and that by itself inspires more women to dream big.  Most importantly, there is a rising culture of women-support-women through female entrepreneurs organisations and HeforShe movement in many organisations.

What lessons would you like to share for other women, especially from the COVID-19 disruptions?

Focus on what you can control or change. Pay attention to progress, not perfection. Don’t be afraid to pivot and continually innovate to transform your business to the new normal. Learn to manage your stress so you can navigate the inevitable changes with sanity.

To read more interviews and access data on 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.