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The startup scene is undeniably flourishing in Singapore, especially in the fintech (financial technology) sector. The ecosystem for fintech is incredibly conducive in Singapore since it is a developed nation and the financial hub for ASEAN. In fact, fintech is so well-received here that there is even a fintech festival happening this November. That is why many of the best fintech startups in Asia like to make Singapore their base.
Fintech startups have the necessary resources in Singapore to achieve success. There are plenty of incubators, accelerator programmes and funding available. There is no better time to bring your startup into Singapore than now.
One of the accelerator programmes in Singapore that is fairly new but has already garnered a lot of interest in the fintech startup landscape is The FinLab. The FinLab is a leading corporate accelerator programme started by UOB and Infocomm Investments. Led by Felix Tan, managing director of The FinLab, the programme is the highest calibre of its kind.
Felix comes with an illustrious career in finance, bringing only the best to The FinLab. He has worked for two banks (one international, one local), established his own startup (which then went on to be valued at US$100 million in October 1999), raised and managed a private equity fund of US$20 million, been an angel investor, mentored startups through NTU Ventures (now known as NTUitive) and the list goes on. He’s run the full gamut, which makes him the prime candidate to head The FinLab.
The FinLab was established in November last year and Felix joined them in December.
How to make your fintech startup stand out
There is a lot of hype surrounding fintech startups in the world. There are many startups with plenty to offer but whether or not these ideas can be adopted and adapted by banks, is another question.
It is competitive to get accepted into an accelerator programme in the first place, especially one like The FinLab.
“There are a lot of people jumping on to the fintech bandwagon, but after a while, market forces will separate the men from the boys,” Felix says. “The stronger players will get funding and smaller players may get bought out if their technology is good or just die out.”
“Once the dust has settled, the remaining players will grow really big mainly because the banks will be working with them,” he adds.
These are some things Felix says you need to know if you want to be the best fintech startup in Asia:
1. The new ROIs
ROI, or Return on Investment, should no longer be the standard companies (including startups) look at nowadays as a measure of success.
“ROI is a backward looking indicator. There are 3 things you should be paying attention to first – information, ideas and innovation – because these are forward looking indicators,” he advises.
With so much information out there, the challenge now is the ability to filter out things that are non-essential and see what patterns emerge.
“The ability to identify future trends from this information will help you to formulate what needs to be done to capture and ride these trends – and these will be the ideas you generate. So, the 1st ROI is the return on information – and that will be where ideas are generated.
Ideas remain ideas until they are pulled out from your head and made real, and when they become real, that’s innovation. So, innovation is the return on ideas – the 2nd ROI. When we innovate and succeed (or not), that is when we see the return on investment,” Felix adds.