Attract more customers and investors in just 2 minutes

Attract more customers and investors in just 2 minutes

This post originally appears on

Disclaimer: You may take more than 2 minutes to accomplish some of the suggestions we are sharing below to promote your startups to potential customers, partners and investors. However, there is no doubt that you are reading this article right now because you are interested to make a quick impact on your startup. To help you achieve that goal, I have arranged the tips in order of increasing complexity so start with the easiest and be inspired to accomplish the rest.

1. Make it a priority to update your own or company’s Linkedin profile
If you are a startup, it is likely that you are looking for partners and investors almost all the time. According to LinkedIn, it already had 380 million members in the second quarter of 2015, making it a huge network of customers, partners and investors to tap on.

A good Linkedin profile improves credibility and allows you to quickly gain vast networks and recommendations to influential professionals in the same industry or those interested to meet nascent entrepreneurs like yourself.

The content to update include your professional background (this is not a case of more is better, include only relevant ones to your startup) as well as past successes. Be as detailed as you can to emphasize that you are better than your peers, for example, taking a shorter time to achieve a certain successful outcome, leading a group of individuals to accomplish the same goal or even doing something outside of your expertise well to demonstrate the ability to learn and adapt quickly.

Next, do ask for recommendations from people who have worked closely with you. Make sure those recommendations appear as sincere as you can, demonstrating specific examples of how you have shined either in your startup or past work experience to demonstrate the potential that you will succeed again now. Do not underestimate the power of recommendations as it is now the new ‘word of mouth’ online.

One common question asked is what if they don’t get back to you? A good strategy to get the recommendations for yourself more quickly is to write for them first or provide them with a template to drive your branding objectives.

At the same time, do connect with people whom Linkedin recommend to you or whom you would like to meet (prominent investors, partners, employees of relevant departments in corporates) as it is just a click away. The network effect will bring you more relevant recommendations and some people may more likely connect with you because you have connected with people from their Linkedin network.

Last but not least, do include email address on your profile so that it breaks down the barriers to connect with you since interested parties can email you instead of sending you InMail.

2. Make it easy for people to know you better and build trust through online platforms
Go to Angelist and set up a profile of your company. Then, repeat for platforms like Crunchbase, F6s and e27. These platforms have vast networks of investors and individuals interested to work in startups so promoting your company’s profile there will allow others to easily discover your startup as well as potentially boost the SEO ranking of your website. I have personally tried doing this when I’m still working for a business incubator and there was an overall 20% increase in the number of queries on incubation/funding in the months that followed.
Next, do update your website to include:
Twitter website
Google+ page website
Facebook page/group website
your new personal or company’s Linkedin profile

If you have received venture capital investment or government’s grant, have you included your startup website and description on the investor’s portfolio website? Take advantage of the higher SEO ranking of the investor’s or grant website as they are probably highly visited by the rest of the startups out there.The fact that you are listed also increases your startup’s credibility as it implies that you have a validated business model.It is also important to include the same information in your own website. Ethan from says, “Customers who have never heard of their company before feel safer buying recreational lessons from them when they’re aware that NUS Enterprise and SPRING ACE grant supports their company.”
Peck Ying Tan, cofounder of, a startup which utilises physical products combined with technology to help make a lady’s life easier during “that time of the month”, shares that “People will always be looking out for signs that says “I can trust you”, whether is it by being an opinion leader in the industry (elaborated in the next point) or by simply scanning your website or profiles. Make sure they find the signs.” She also advocates the following:

Reviews reviews reviews (of your product). It takes just one minute to email or call your current customers to take a minute to review your product. Incentivise them with movie tickets (this is tried and tested to work especially in Singapore) if you will. Nothing beats testimonials by customers themselves.
Media coverage. Small media brings in the larger media. It doesn’t matter where you are being covered at the start, but make sure your company has some coverage and other media will be coming to knock on your doors. Your customers / partners are also more likely to trust you when they know you have been featured on the news. It takes just one minute to ping a journalist on Linkedin and propose a suitable angle to write about you.
Attracting success with success. Have you partnered with any big name or have any as your customer? List their logos down on your website, leverage on their names to gain trust. This is especially useful for B2B startups.
3. Establish yourself as the opinion leader in the industry
Through participation in relevant online Forums and Quora. You don’t have to participate in all the discussions and the key is contributing sustainably. For the first two minutes, create an account on relevant forums and Quora. Then set aside an hour on the same day each week to look for relevant threads and air your views.
Reach out to conferences to speak: Volunteer first to gain recognition. As a conference organiser in the past, one of the biggest headaches we have is getting the right speakers and asking them to speak at our events. Having someone who steps forward willingly is certainly much appreciated. Most conferences feature their speakers on the website and new conferences often reach out to these speakers to speak. For the next two minutes, search for suitable conferences happening in the next two to three months and start pinging the organisers.

Be guest writers on blogs like Techinasia (like me!) or other blogs that are in your industry vertical (or where your customers “hang out”). The two-minute task would be to go through what you have written previously and revise it so that it is something that a particular blog would like to publish.Set up an account and blog on Medium. For a start or to increase the mileage of your blog, Linkedin is also a great platform to share your thoughts too.
So… when are you going to start doing any of this?


For the latest startup news, Follow me on

Read my posts on Techinasia:

Add me on Linkedin

Why I like Boldr watches and why they are going to kick asses of other smart watches

Why I like Boldr watches and why they are going to kick asses of other smart watches

The first thing struck me is that wow, a home made wearable at last and what’s more, it looks good. Period.

2nd image

Unlike the squarish fitbit, Samsung gear or Apple watch, this watch looks good for a date or even for the workplace. What probably comes close in terms of design would be Motorola’s Moto360 but the first two versions are really thick.


The next thing that stands out is their easily replaceable battery (CR2032) that can power the BOLDR Smartmodule for up to 6 months. 6 months! None of the smart watches can last long than one day without requiring charge. Perhaps only Mi Band can withstand not charging for a month but it does not tell the time.

Function wise,  the BOLDR Voyage comes with:

  • BOLDR Smartmodule with embedded LEDs and built-in vibration motor
  • Integrated pedometer with progress tracker
  • Calls, sms and app notification system
  • Anti-loss system
  • Remote camera shutter

This is not the first  but the second crowdfunding campaign that the founders are running for watches. Within 24 hours from launched, the project beat its initial pledge goal and was fully backed. To date, they have already raised 72,238 CAD.  Last but not least, they are already featured by numerous techblogs and news sites.

already featured

How about getting one for yourself for just 169 CAD? 🙂



For the latest startup news, Follow me on

Read my posts on Techinasia:

Add me on Linkedin

Accelerators in Singapore at a glance

Accelerators in Singapore at a glance

This article originally appeared on

The number of accelerators in Singapore is growing and will continue to grow as industries like Fintech and Cybersecurity heat up. Overwhelmed? Not sure which accelerator in Singapore is the most suitable to aid your startup’s journey?

Depending on your objective, here’s a cheat sheet to help you compare the big boys in this jungle:

1. If you like the newest kids on the block – Rockstart and Muru-D

Name of accelerator: Rockstart
Country of origin: The Netherlands
Duration of program: 150 days or roughly five months
Area(s) of focus:  Web and mobile, smart energy, and digital health
Investment/Equity stake: Information not available
X-Factor: The global outreach of the Program (program runs simultaneously in Amsterdam and Singapore), the fact that many of the alumni companies are funded by prominent VCs (Greylock Partner, Balderton Capital, Notion Capital, Shamrock Ventures etc) after the program and that Chi Tran, former CTO for OgilvyOne, heads the Rockstart Southeast Asia program.

Even though Rockstart just launched in Singapore in May 2015, it is no stranger to the startup scene. Dubbed as the largest accelerator in The Netherlands, Rockstart has selected 10 ‘Globally focused’ startups to take part in the first run of its accelerator program, which will last for 150 days. It’s interesting to note that while participants attend the program mainly in Singapore but they also get the opportunity to visit San Francisco (2 weeks) & New York (2 weeks) during the program. Successful companies include 3Dhubs, Wercker, Top-Docs.

Name of accelerator: Muru-D
Country of origin: Australia
Duration of program:  180 days or Six months
Area(s) of focus:  Web and mobile, smart energy, and digital health
Investment/Equity stake: US$30,300/ 6% equity
X-Factor: Muru-D is an accelerator backed by Australia’s largest telecommunications carrier, Telstra.

Muru-D recently graduated 9 startups in their first batch in Singapore in August 2015. In Australia, where the program originates, the nine startups from the first run attracted more than US$2.4 m in follow-on funding. Impressively, all of the startups have paying customers or paid trials at the end of the six-month program.

Participating startups receive US$30,300 in seed funding each, workspace in Muru-D’s Singapore premises, and access to mentors, coaches, and investors.

2.  The most all rounded accelerator 

Name of accelerator: Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI)
Country of origin: Singapore
Duration of program: 100 days or around three and a half months
Area(s) of focus:  Scalable, repeatable, profitable businesses based in Asia for Asia
Investment/Equity stake: S$50,000/ 8.888% equity
X-Factor: The frog mascot (just kidding…) JFDI.Asia’s co-founders Meng and Hugh Mason are both entrepreneurs who have immense experience and connections to help startups succeed.

Google search “accelerator Singapore” and one of first results you will see is JFDI. JDFI claims to be the first accelerator in Southeast Asia — since 2010 JFDI has accelerated 69 startups from around the world and turned a $1 m initial investment into a $60m+ portfolio. JFDI evolved from Techstars‘ model of startup acceleration, adapting it for Asia. Most would say that this is the most all-rounded accelerator in Singapore, as we have seen several noteworthy alumni companies across multiple industries and nationalities. Personally, I have met quite a few Koreans and Norwegians at some of its Demo days.

3. If your niche is in Mediatech…

Name of accelerator: SPH Plug and Play accelerator
Country of origin: Singapore
Duration of program: 70 days or two and a half months
Area(s) of focus:  advertising, e-commerce, marketplaces, mobile, news and content distribution to public relations
Investment/Equity stake: S$30,000/ 6% equity
X-Factor: The accelerator program is run by SPH, Singapore Press Holdings, one of the largest SGX-listed media companies in Singapore.

Eight Internet start-ups (click here for more information) were recently chosen from 280 applications from around the world in the inaugural intake of the accelerator program. The firms, which are in the fields of content and content curation, learning, employment, lifestyle and data analytics, come from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

4. If your niche is in Fintech…

Name of accelerator: AspirAsia
Country of origin: Russia (Moscow)
Duration of program: 30-180 days or one to six months
Area(s) of focus:  Fintech
Investment/Equity stake: between US$50,000 and US$500,000/ 5 to 15% equity stake
X-Factor: The accelerator program is funded by its parent company, Life.SREDA, which has recently raised $100 m for its second fund.

The accelerator just launched in May 2015 and has since selected the first batch of 8 startups. Leading the program in Asia is Huawei’s senior executive, Victor Chow.

Name of accelerator: Startupbootcamp Fintech
Country of origin: London
Duration of program: 13-week or three months
Area(s) of focus:  Fintech
Investment/Equity stake: €15,000/ 8% equity
X-Factor: The high power mentors who personally mentor each team, with profiles ranging from MD of DBS to senior members from Intesa SanPaolo and PwC. They also have support from Infocomm Investments, Jungle Ventures, PixVine and Route66 Venture which provided funding and business mentoring.

Startupbootcamp FinTech takes startups through a 13-week, mentorship driven, program that connects them to banks, investors and subject experts. The most recent run has seen 11 graduates and the demo day was held at Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, supported by big guns like Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and DBS, one of the largest local banks.

5. If you are building a Social Enterprise

Name of accelerator: Unframed
Country of origin: Singapore
Duration of program: 180 days or five months
Area(s) of focus: Social impact
Investment/Equity stake: S$10,000/ up to 10% equity
X-Factor: Besides the cash, founder Larry Tchiou promises that each team will receive close mentoring from a team with “unique expertise, experience, and network at the crossroads of tech startups, social entrepreneurship, non-profit.”

Unframed, a social impact startup incubator, this afternoon launched a five-month program called Enabling Change. Each startup will receive S$10,000 (US$7,500) in seed funding and provides Unframed with a maximum of 10 percent for those at the concept stage – to be exercised within the first two years.


For the latest startup news, Follow me on

Read my posts on Techinasia:

Add me on Linkedin

From zero to Hero in 12 months, How ShopBack does it

This post originally appears on Techinasia

The first phase of a start-up often involves finding ways of to get the early adopters on-board and generating feedback to iterate the idea. You may have seen many of those blogs that discuss customer acquisition strategies in theory but these are usually difficult to be replicated without understanding the context. To really nail product development, follow the journey of a “Hero”, someone who has been there and done that – like Shanru Lai, Head of Marketing at ShopBack. In this interview, she shares some affordable yet effective marketing strategies that worked for them.

Why ShopBack?

The founders of ShopBack, Henry Chan and Joel Leong were first-time entrepreneurs but they have managed to build a large customer base within a year from launch. Started in August 2014, ShopBack has powered more than 100,000 customer transactions at popular eCommerce portals both in Singapore and abroad within less than 10 months. ShopBack offers online shoppers up to 30% cash back when they shop online at any of the 300 Asian and North American brands. Shopping categories range from fashion to F&B, travel and electronics, and the team has brought on board well known retailers like ZALORA, ASOS and Groupon.

And running a start-up often means making the best of the little you have. According to Shanru, even though ShopBack is in a slightly more advantageous position as they have raised over US$500,000 in seed funding last year, they are always mindful of how they can optimise marketing spend to give the company its longest runway.

Firstly, identify your market segment

Crafting successful marketing campaigns begins with an end in mind. ShopBack identifies their target market as anyone who shops online in South East Asia and typically between the age of 18 to 45 years old. Shanru shared that this helped them to focus on the choice of marketing channels — those that their target market frequently engages with – Facebook, instagram and blogs. She insists there is no one-size-fits-all social platform: some customers are inactive on Facebook but are heavy SnapChat users so ShopBack needs mix its media. These behaviors, however, always depend on the market and location of your users.

Paid marketing for new user acquisition

While paid marketing has worked very well for eCommerce companies, it all boils down to one simple strategy – deliver real value to customers. To attract new customers, ShopBack relies on Facebook ads, engagement on other social media and blogs.

The first step is to create a daily budget for Facebook ads, which is in line with their monthly targets. Optimising the images, content, and the time of posts is an ongoing task. Shanru scrutinizes the analytics data regularly to identify trends or confirm certain hypothesis, for example, the most effective timing to put up the Facebook post to maximise engagement. The most popular content among ShopBack’s users tends to include price promotions, especially when discounts can be stacked with cash back. The key is also to find out the 80/20 when it comes to selecting which brand partners’ sale promotions to promote. Knowing the top online brands that bring about the highest conversions or has the highest web traffic enable ShopBack to prioritise the brands to focus the majority of marketing dollar on them.

For new start-ups with no history of data to fall back on, Shanru shared that they can start by observing the content and timing of the Facebook posts on major competitors’ pages and then adapt their strategy accordingly.

Following Acquisition with Retention

The work does not end after the new customers are acquired as they still need to be persuaded to make a transaction or be actively engaged to make repeat transactions. Shanru’s strategy for retention:  email marketing. To achieve high click rates, ShopBack crafts relevant content alongside persuasive copy and fine tuned design. Through the email analytics she has done, Shanru realises that it is often effective to entice new customers or those who have not made a recent transaction by sending exclusive bonuses on their next purchase.

In addition, Shanru shares that their blog has played a pivotal role in bringing in more traffic to their site and creating conversions to first sales. They would share good promotions from their brand partners on the blog and this has also enabled them to package more value into the marketing campaigns they run for the partners. Again, this is a way of delivering real value to their customers. For new start-ups, one concern could be how to maintain a blog team sustainably. ShopBack does it in the beginning by working with freelancers and having a central person to manage and edit the posts.

From time to time, Shanrun has also found it effective to engage fans in a fun and different way. Once a month, they run contests on Facebook and on their blog, in the form of lucky draws or giveaways of a particular brand’s vouchers or products, to engage users.

Get a marketing expert onboard

It sounds like a no-brainer but it is an area that is often overlooked. As a founder, unless you have prior marketing experience, it is essential to have someone experienced in marketing onboard if you are running an eCommerce business. It is possible for someone to learn on the job but it works much more efficient to have someone who’s already in the know, given the limited runway.

Shanru shared that she was already running marketing campaigns back in ZALORA and therefore ensuring that marketing efforts deliver the business objectives is no stranger to her.

Hoping that it gets viral in the end

While getting the word out through their marketing efforts has been effective in general, Shanru maintained that the holy grail is still word of mouth marketing, via their referral program. But it will take some time for the business to get to that stage, as the number of customers need to reach a certain level before an exponential increase can happen. Having said that, referral programs should be there from day 1 and it is worth setting up a simple yet reliable referral system to enable your local customers to share about your site. Every quarter, in addition to the social media campaigns, Shanru would run a special bonus referral campaign so that customers would be more incentivized to share actively during those particular months.


For the latest startup news, Follow me on

Read my posts on Techinasia:

Add me on Linkedin

Female founders with a cause – Support their journey

Have you make a difference in someone’s life today?

Come join us this Thursday (30 July 2015) afternoon in Hong Kong and be inspired by three successful female entrepreneurs, winners of “Top Women Entrepreneurs” – Elsa, Adrianna and Kristina. “Top Women Entrepreneurs” is a competition recently launched by DuĹĄan Stojanović, founder of True Global Ventures.
Three of them have emerged as winners through a rigorous selection process and handpicked from over 150 applications, by a panel consisting of DuĹĄan, more than 20 judges and seasoned investors.

The event will comprise a panel of the three entrepreneurs and early stage investors and they will be discussing various aspects of male- and female-led start-ups, as well as sharing investor perspectives. At the end of the panel discussion, the audience will have the opportunity to make a difference by supporting these entrepreneurs through a crowd sourced initiative.

Register for the event at

If you are based out of Hong Kong or unable to attend the session, you can still make an impact. Support their journey through participating in their crowdsourcing campaign now, more details below:

Their crowdsourcing campaign is now live.

Elsa Dsilva is stopping sexual harassment in India with her startup SafeCity, through the smart use of crowdsourced data. Read more about her at

Support her campaign via

Adrianna Tan with Wobe is empowering woman living in poverty by providing them a chance to earn $5 a day. Read more at

 Support her campaign via

Kristina Lagerstedt with 1928 Diagnostics is tackling the problem of antibiotics resistance through the use of cloud-based diagnostics. Read more at

Support her campaign via–2#/story


For the latest startup news, Follow me on

Read my posts on Techinasia:

Add me on Linkedin

Funded! A list tracking Singapore based start-ups which raised money/ got acquired

Funded! A list tracking Singapore based start-ups which raised money/ got acquired

By alphabetical order:

  • chopeThe Chope Group – $8 milllion – June 2015
A four-year-old, Singapore-based online restaurant reservations platform, with the likes of Opentable, has just raised $8 million in new funding from F&H Fund Management, NSI Ventures, DSG Consumers Partners, Frontier Ventures, and Singapore Press Holdings. (see post “THE PIXE- LIST: TOP 5 STARTUPS TO WATCH THIS WEEK”)
  • Fastacash – $15 million  – July 2015
A three-year-old, Singapore-based fintech startup that serves to revolutionalise social payments and acts as an intermediary for banks — has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Rising Dragon Singapore, Life.SREDA, UVM 2 Venture Investments, and undisclosed existing investors, bringing it to a grand total of $23.5 million. Read more here.
  • KFit – $3.25 million – July 2015
One of my favorites, Kfit, has disrupted the steeply priced gym membership packages in Singapore with their one-for-all packages, freeing gym goers from the reins and giving them unlimited access to go to any gym which is Kfit’s listed partner. They raised $3.25 million in the round led by Sequoia capital. Read more here
  • Luxola – acquired by LVMH – July 2015

Another of my favorite shopping site, Luxola is now acquired! Famed for providing consumers with a myriad of makeup, skincare and personal care products, as well as excellent customer service, they have braved a long but confident journey to success. Read more here 

  • Mobikon – $2.3 million – July 2015

A six-year-old, Singapore-based company that makes cloud-based software to help restaurants manage almost all aspects of their businesss, has raised $2.3 million in new funding led by returning investor Jungle Ventures, bringing it to a grand total of $5 million altogether.  Read more here.

  • PayWhere – $5 million – August 2015

One of NUS’ most successful startups, PayWhere, is recently acquired by Philippine telco PLDT for $5 mil. PayWhere is the company behind TackThis, a SAAS platform that allows entrepreneurs and business owners to set up their own online stores in just a few steps, manage their inventory, and accept payments through a variety of local providers. The acquisition comes about as a result of PLDT’s goal of building its digital commerce business in the Philippines and other emerging markets.

  • Paktor – $7.4 million – June 2015

A two-year-old, Singapore-based social networking platform for singles, has raised $7.4 million in Series B funding from earlier investor, Vertex Venture Holdings and new backers Majuven, and Convergence Ventures. Previously, Paktor has raised $5 million from Vertex Ventures Holdings last year. Read more here.

  • qoo10Qoo10 – $82 million – July 2015
Qoo10 – my favorite ecommerce for buying virtually anything for all time (All these happened to be my favorites) has bagged $82 Million from SPHmediafund. It comes to no surprise that they are funded though I was expecting them to IPO. Other investors for this round include eBay, Saban Capital Group, UVM 2 Venture Investments, Brookside Capital and Oak Investment Partners. Read more here
Invested by Singapore VC firm:
  • Matterport – $30 million – June 2015

A 4.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company, well known for its $4,500 camera that takes 360 degree images of its environment, has raised $30 million in growth funding from Qualcomm Ventures and Singapore’s GIC. Read more here.

Sources: Venture Beat, Techinasia, Techcrunch, StrictlyVC


For the latest startup news, Follow me on

Read my posts on Techinasia:

Add me on Linkedin

The 3-Step Stress Test before you start your business

The 3-Step Stress Test before you start your business

break ipad-806394_640

1. Who are your target customers*?

– Describe their characteristics, behaviors, professions, country of residence and finally age, gender.

2. Validate your assumptions
– WHAT is the pain that your customers* face now? How do they currently cope with this pain? Are there a combination of tools available now that the customers can use to partially solve the problem?
– WHY would the customers want to pay for your service? What are the assumptions you have made and how have you been testing them?
– WHO are in your management team? Do their background help your team achieve your business targets? What is the gap? How are you planning to address the gap?
– WHO do you know that can help you to get your customers? How many can they bring in?
– HOW similar are the behavioral traits of the customers* you identified to those that you assume in your business model?
– WHERE would your business get your customers? What’s the conversion rate and is it realistic given the limited marketing budget?
– WHEN would you get your first 100,000 transactions? Is it one year later? How much would you need? Given the budget that you have now, is it realistic?

3. Making money

-This overall market size is >$10 billion – Is this market too broad?
This overall market size is <$1 billion – Is this market too small?


*Customers are paying parties for your business

**Consumers are users who may not necessarily pay


Potential antidote to your labour crunch woes

Potential antidote to your labour crunch woes


If you are having headaches over getting developers or skilled employees onboard, check this out!

WDA has just set up the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme (ELP) to help provide career head start for Fresh Polytechnic and ITE Graduates.  Polytechnics are institutes of higher learning that provide part-time and full time diploma courses spanning many fields. The ELP team will match and plac these graduates to work for companies over a period of at least 2 -3 years (medium term).

The ELP for Software Development will be the first to be launched, followed by Business Analytics, Infocomm Security and Networks/ Infrastructure Support.


  • Given the aim of the program, start-ups that may sustain over some years to support the career progression requirement for the working candidate
  • Employers will need to provide on-the-job training and mentorship, leading to industry-recognised certifications at the end of the programme.
  • Employees will also be supported with structured training and career development pathways in accordance with their employer’s talent development plan.
  • The commitment will span 12 to 18 months depending on the sector, job and training requirements.

For more information, please refer to eBrochure / Factsheet of SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme – Infocomm Technology Sector.