Show Me The Money: Startup Funding

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Funding is one critical element that every entrepreneur needs to prepare for. It enables every startup to advance from idea stage to business planning to creation and scaling up.

Funding Your Startup

There are three general categories of funding: bootstrapping, debt and equity. Bootstrapping

includes minimizing the spendings in personal and business finances. Debt covers bank loans, trade credit and borrowing from friends/family (a.k.a. “love money”). Equity includes crowdinvesting/crowdfunding, convertible notes, and even funds from friends/family, depending on your agreement.

Preparing For Funding

Before searching for and choosing a source funding, the most important step for every entrepreneur is to create a business plan. Defining goals and milestones allows for a more accurate projection of one’s financial needs, especially the minimum budget necessary for at least the first year of building a startup. Founders, along with their co-founders, also need to assess their current financial situation. Evaluating your starting point and short and long-term needs as accurately as possible makes for a more solid financial assessment.

Some questions to consider: How much funding will you need? Will you be dedicating yourself to your new startup full-time or just part-time? If you choose to do it full-time, you may need to secure more funding upfront to cover operating costs.

Below are some sources of funding that founders can consider. Sources can be combined depending on the amount needed after a budget evaluation.

Sources of Funding

Love Money

The most accessible source of funding is “love money.” Love money is capital you extended to your business that has family or friends as a source. The agreement around the funds is oftentimes customized according to the particular type of relations between the two parties.

As friends and families already know you–your values, your personality and possibly, your work ethic–a certain level of trust is already established, making them often the likeliest source of support for your business when you’re just starting out.

Outside of your immediate circle, you can also look to former colleagues or fellow alumni as potential investors in your business.

Talk through the terms with them informally but do try to establish whether it would be considered an investment for them or just a loan. You do not need to specify the terms as a business agreement, but clarifying the terms of their involvement in and expectations of your project will help to secure a good relationship in the long-term.

Convertible Notes

Another source of funding is a Convertible Note–a form of short-term debt that later converts to equity. Why use convertible notes? Convertible notes involve a faster setup and a simpler agreement. For one, it does not need a pre-valuation of a business at the offset for investors. Additionally, it avoids or minimizes turning over control to investors. Overall, it allows a for a degree of flexibility of terms when compared to other more formal agreements.

Using convertible notes can be a challenge when one is unfamiliar with how they work. Understanding it may take some time but it could be a helpful source of funding for any business. Here is a good resource on convertible notes with scenarios on coverage and agreement terms.

Crowdfunding or Crowdinvesting

Crowdfunding and Crowdinvesting are two methods for raising funds that provide access to a bigger pool of investors. Compared to other methods, they save time and money. They also help you to avoiding incurring a debt in case of an unsuccessful launch of a business.

Crowdfunding is a method of pitching a product or service to the masses. The support that any crowdfunding campaign receives is already a means of market validation of a product/service. Some challenges in doing a Crowdfunding campaign are outlined below:

  1. You need an engaging story. The value of a business idea needs to be communicated effectively to the market.
  2. Unfamiliarity with crowdfunding or the platform itself. Businesses may need to educate their target market/potential contributors about crowdfunding.
  3. Consideration of payout fees for platforms to use

Here’s a quick guide to a successful crowdfunding campaign:

  • Get family and friends to jumpstart funding for higher visibility
  • Present a realistic business plan that shows how the contributors’ money will take the business to the next level
  • Be active online throughout the campaign period in all channels (answer inquiries, do continuous promotion, track progress)

The most popular crowdfunding websites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. For a more comprehensive guide, here’s a resource on Crowdfunding.

Crowdinvesting is an equity-based crowdfunding; it is similar to crowdfunding but is aimed instead at investors. Crowdinvesting widens a start-up’s access to potential investors, including individual investors. In addition, It doesn’t necessarily require company valuation to get the support needed.

Crowdinvesting also has its own challenges, with a need to take the following factors into account:

  1. Proof of concept & market traction (needed right off the bat, unlike in crowdfunding)
  2. Financial projections
  3. Terms of agreement have to be explicitly defined–not flexible to amendments thereafter
  4. Investor relations are of utmost importance. Founders/ business owners need to build and maintain them.

Sample crowdinvesting portals are FundedByMe and Seedrs. Here’s an additional resource that can be used as a guide to running a successful crowdinvesting campaign.

Evaluating Funding Options

Each source has its own challenges. The key is to assess which method of fundraising fits your current situation and your business goals. There are several other funding options, both traditional and non-traditional methods. Whichever method you choose for your startup however, make sure to do your research thoroughly and be prepared to answer potential investors’ questions.


The Wave of Venture Builders

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A Recent Model: Venture Builder

Monkey Inferno, eFounders, Rocket Internet; a wave of venture builders is taking up an increasingly key role in the startup ecosystem.

It is difficult to trace when the model of the venture builder dates back to, but at least as early as 1996, Idealab, an early pioneer, was already pooling talents and resources to invest in and launch multiple startups at the same time. By 2016, a crop of articles on venture builders fully legitimized a distinct operational model within the startup world. When “The 300* Startup Studios Taking On the World” appeared in Medium in March of 2017, a sense of bounty in the long list made clear the fact that the venture builder (or “startup studio,” or “digital lab”) is a concept that is here to stay.

Despite the proliferation of venture builders, one obstacle a venture builder faces is in establishing its difference from an accelerator or a venture capital firm. Perhaps, “startup studio” is still the best name for describing what a venture builder does. Like any kind of studio, a venture builder produces things; in this case, startups. A studio production utilizes equipment and team that have worked across different projects, putting its stamp on whatever new productions it puts out. Similarly, a venture builder enables startups to leverage its internal team of business developers, designers, developers, marketers and sometimes VCs in the ideation, development and launch of a company. It is a strong business model and one that is structured for acceleration: invest in a fully equipped, talented team, identify a few things you do well, replicate the model and put your team to work to grow different businesses in parallel.

Yet although a venture builder takes equity in the startups it helps to build; it differs from the aloof VC model of “parallel entrepreneurship.” A VB is not just looking for a quick exit. Like accelerators, venture builders provide the necessary support and resources to early-stage startups, but while the ventures that are part of an accelerator program remain separate and external to some extent;  a VB is more hands-on and often functions as an interim co-founder of the ventures it helps to co-launch.

How Does it Work: The Rocket Internet Example

Venture builders gained their visibility partly through the tech superstars that have been behind some of the most prominent VBs out there. These include Obvious Corp (Twitter, Medium), Mark Levin’s HVF (Hard Valuable Fun), which is behind, Betaworks (, Giphy) and Germany’s Rocket Internet (one of its most recent successes is Southeast Asia’s Lazada, now owned by the Alibaba group). Since having an experienced team behind a venture minimizes risk, VB-backed startups typically gain more access to funding. Providing a network of angel investors and the full resources necessary for the development of a project, VBs act as equity partners and can take as much as up to 40% equity in any of the ventures they help to launch.

The Rocket Internet example is a well-known one. Rocket Internet does not look for the new thing in the market so much as it identifies and replicates good business models. Entrepreneurship is inherently risky business, and Rocket Internet’s success is in large part dependent on replicating a tested-and-proven model in industries in which they have some expertise. Although often accused of being a factory that churns out copycats of proven startups, Rocket Internet has gained rather than lost through identifying the startup models that work and reproducing them rapidly in emerging markets. In the process of launching a new venture, Rocket will usually recruit internally to staff these startups, before slowly transitioning out of the ventures which are expected to become independent entities. For all its flaws, Rocket Internet showcases the venture builder’s strength, the ability to transfer institutional knowledge across the startups in its portfolio and thus to increase the probability of success in execution.

The Creatella VB Model

The VB model continues to evolve. At Creatella, we build internal startups which are in-house projects ideated from within the team and developed from scratch (e.g. However, we also work with startup founders whether they are in need of a clickable mockup, tech development, or are looking for a committed team to take up the role of a CTO. As with the classic venture building model, Creatella provides the resources of a complete in-house team. We leverage our team and knowledge to help founders succeed. We are willing to take a measure of risk in the projects we take on, and are on the lookout for passionate innovation, even if it does not yet have a proven record of success. We also pride ourselves on partnering for the long-term, integrating into existing teams and in staying lean. We believe that a founder’s vision for a project matters, our role is in ensuring the quality of its execution.

The VB model is an increasingly attractive one in a high-risk startup market. It is hard for a startup to succeed; partnering with a team that has done it before, many times, across many different ventures reduces the risk of failure. Since its inception in 2016, Creatella has worked with more than 30 startups worldwide (in Singapore, Paris, London and New York). We are a rigorously selected team of designers, developers, digital marketers and project managers. Together with our founders, we have raised more than 35 million dollars in our portfolio and we are restless to sustain our rate of exponential growth. Have a project in mind? Talk to us.



8 Reasons to Launch Your Startup in Singapore (And A Few Not To)

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These days, Singapore seems to have it all– a strong and stable economy with growth areas in finance and telecoms, Eduardo Saverin, the largest increase in per capita income any independent nation has seen within 50 years. Frequently dubbed the Switzerland of Asia, it’s known to be one of the best places to launch a startup today. The startup scene is thriving and home to many top-tier startups: Grab, Hooq, MyRepublic. The Singapore government seems committed to nurturing and expanding the tech ecosystem. Pair that with a solid political climate, Singapore seems to be the perfect choice for to launch your startup.

But first, why Singapore?

The Singapore startup space is thriving and growing every year, but there are still some pros and cons to consider before making Singapore your base.

Some of the most common reasons people choose Singapore as their startup home:

  • It has an affordable tax rate
  • A vibrant and thriving startup scene provides ample networking opportunities
  • A healthy venture capital industry
  • The government is actively interested in supporting startups
  • Its location is perfect for connecting with the much larger Asian markets all around
  • It famously takes 2 efficient days to register your company in Singapore

Some of the difficulties:

  • If you’re a foreigner, you’ll need a visa
  • There are a lot of startups in Singapore, so you’ll have some competition
  • Singapore is small, you’ll face all the attendant challenges of a small market
  • Higher costs of setting up your business despite all the advantages of doing so in a developed nation

1.  Vibrant Singapore Startup Scene

Having other startups to network with and bounce ideas off of can help your startup to stay abreast of developing trends. Singapore has this in spades. Singapore’s startup ecosystem contains ample opportunities for growth. Singapore is also home to many accelerator programs, within which you can network and grow your business. These include Startupbootcamp Fintech, Fatfish, Rockstart, and Jungle Ventures. These accelerators can help you get your startup off the ground and connect with people who share your vision.

Singapore also has a lot of places to work, whether you’re a one-man show or a budding business. There are many coworking spaces that offer solutions for startups of all sizes. These spaces allow you to have a professional office space while staying connected with other startups in the community.

2. Attractive tax system

Singapore boasts an incredibly attractive tax system for new companies. It includes tax breaks for businesses within their first three years. This can reduce their tax rate to 0% for the first 100k of income, which makes launching a new startup easy. Singapore’s corporate tax rate is also capped at 17%, making it a great choice for businesses concerned about rising tax rates as they scale up. Dividends are also distributed to shareholders tax-free, which makes investors more likely to put their money in startups.

3. Sizable amount of interested investors

Remember when we said the government in Singapore loves startups? They’ve recently introduced an initiative called Spring SEEDs which allows startups and investors to receive investments from the government.

4. Dynamic Workforce from Many Countries

Singapore has a diverse population of smart and savvy potential employees who can help grow your business. Singapore not only boasts of an incredible education system that prepares students well for the fast-paced startup world, it also has liberal immigration policies that allow you to source talent from a diverse international pool. This can result in creating teams that are smart and agile, the perfect people to take your ideas to the next level.

5. Strict Protection for Intellectual Property

Singapore has some of the strictest IP protections in the world. This makes it easy for startups who need to have IP protocols in place to launch their startups in Singapore feeling confident.

6. Enthusiastic and Innovative Government Efforts

The government in Singapore is making great strides to make their country a startup hub. They’ve fostered tons of grant programs and initiatives to make sure that startups can launch and stay successful while in Singapore. We previously mentioned the Spring SEEDs initiative, which allows startups and investors to also receive money from the government.

There is also Startup SG, which offers support for founders, developing tech, and avenues of equity. This initiative supports startups of every step of the process, from launching to protecting their product.

Singapore has also fostered an Angel Investors Tax initiative, which allows angel investors to enjoy a tax break of up to 50%. This initiative makes it easy for investors to confidently invest in early-stage startups.

Singapore also has a number of grants for qualifying startups. These include the Capabilities Development Grant (CDG), which can cover up to 70% of qualifying project costs, the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC), which can offer businesses a 400% tax break or a comparable payout.

7. Strategic Location for Business

Singapore has a strategic location for new startups looking to connect with foreign markets. 49% of Singapore’s residents actually claim citizenship outside of the country, which means it is a great place to spread the message about your startup. The geographic location also allows easy access to Asian and Oceanic markets.

8. Plus, a great place to live too!

Besides being an amazing place to launch your startup, Singapore is an awesome place for anyone to live. The diverse community allows you to meet people of different backgrounds, and the modern city leaves nothing to be desired. Everything from fantastic food to modern architecture, Singapore has everything a modern tech guru like yourself needs.

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Did you know that young people make up 50 percent of the world’s entrepreneurs? According to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, those between the ages of 25 to 34 show the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity. The rising popularity of tech startups backed by increased connectivity and technological advancement has motivated more and more people to start their own business.  Read More