Investor insights from Strategic Investor- Mingles Tsoi
As an early stage investor, what questions do you always ask when looking at a business and its management team?
As a tech focusing investment entity, our main focuses are but not limited to (1) the technology substance of their solution; (2) the team capability and competency for developing and selling the products and/or services. Our questions are usually around the above two areas, questioning their business ideation process, the who and how the team formation and combination, the selling process especially the go-to-market strategy. Of course, the strategy of deploying both financial and key resources are also relevant, that is the budget and fundraising plan.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in investing in early-stage companies?
Many early-stage startups start with an impressive product or solutions and business plan, however, they eventually fail due to underestimation of the issue of cash flow. Within a limited time frame of six to nine months early-stage startups must validate the product-market-fit model such that they can demonstrate their business is sustainable with proven customer traction, and thereafter providing confidence for next round fundraising. We gain experience from previous investment on how to identify business opportunities with sustainable business models and unique value proposition and technological competence under a realistic go-to-market plan.
Are you sector agnostic when it comes to making investments as long as they meet your criteria?
Our focus is more on technology substance rather than the business sectors nor domains. However, we try to find the best combination of proprietary technology with unique applications which can generate innovation in the sense of cost reduction or increase customer engagement. Besides assessing startups’ managerial capabilities, technologies, go-to-market strategies, etc to make investment decisions, we also adopt a deep fundamental approach to evaluate the sales team, financial projections, sales pipelines and future roadmap as important criteria.
What is the tipping point to you when you decide in favor of investing?
The tipping point is not just an Eureka or a Wow Idea. The ideal case is when the presentation can deliver a very smart approach of providing solutions to solve those long existing pain points, and using proprietary technology that can create hurdles against competition. The perfect mix of founding team with the technology and business deployment process will be the ideal scenario that we look forward to investment.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite companies in your portfolio?
I recommend two of our portfolios: Avokaado and Bultr
Avokaado — is Estonian-based legal tech flagship startup, building a data-driven contract lifecycle management platform; has helped with legal automation law firms and companies in the Nordics, Baltics, Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg etc.
Founded by Mariana Hagström, attorney-at-law who has been practising corporate and information technology law for more than 10 years before the transition from legal practise to legal tech in 2016. She has been studying law in Tartu and Stockholm Universities, where she obtained a master degree in Information Technology and Law. For the past 4 years, Mariana has been a true legal tech pioneer and evangelist in the Nordics, giving workshops and talks to a wider audience and in the Universities on contract automation, legal tech, and the future of law.
Bultr — spin-out of the MIT Media Lab, uses a mix of wireless, battery-powered hardware and artificial intelligence to track people’s movements indoors without violating their privacy. Since the rise of COVID-19, the technology has been repurposed, probably to help save lives and without compromising anyone’s privacy. Bultr is a fast-growing startup even in the peak of pandemic, they raised seed funding in Jun 2020 and recently caught investors from Japan for another round of financing.
What areas do you think will present the most opportunity for early-stage investors over the next 18–24 months?
I believe healthtech and proptech present the most opportunities in investing over the next 18–24 months. There are many products, services and solutions that emerged before the pandemic but are now being accelerated by the coronavirus. For example, the early-stage health tech startups focus on the technology on health data, medical sensor devices, Mobile app and health information technology (HIT) tools to reduce diagnostic errors, etc.
The real estate and property industry are lagging behind in terms of digitization. The Proptech momentum driving the sectors through the pandemic will be the products and solutions serving B2B that save the operation cost or otherwise offer differentiating services to generate more customer leads and engagement. Property development is ranked as the top five industries with high market stake and GDP contribution, there are plenty of opportunities for digitalization and adoption of technology for the future. With such great market potential, early-stage startups and investors will play critical roles in fostering this innovation process.
Where are you seeing the most exciting early-stage opportunities? What are the ‘ones to watch’/ most currently underrated?
Our investment is not limited to Asian market, we also keep our eyes on global technological trends and on those countries or regions with friendly startup ecosystems and innovative business ideas. Europe is the talent pool of the world which is most currently underrated. European have an incredible history of innovation and a culture of artistic creativity.
What are your fears as an investor?
My fears are that startups are easy to give up or quit as startups routinely face many challenges on the pathway to success.The most rewarding experience in working with start-ups is actually seeing how they can improve their process and learn from failure.
A book to read or a blog or podcast to follow
I highly recommend founders to read the book“Principles” and the blog published by Ray Dalio
How did you discover Funderbeam?
We discovered Funderbeam through our investment in Avokaado.
What is Funderbeam to you?
I think Funderbeam is a useful tool for startups to get known and raise funds and may be a global investing and trading platform for investors to buy and sell equity stakes in private companies.
Questions from Kaidi Ruusalepp, Funderbeam CEO and founder.
- If you could be a founder/CEO of any company in the world, what would this be and why
I want to be the CEO of Tesla. This is a tough but fascinating position to innovate products and solutions benefiting the mankinds. I also have my vision and dream to change the world.
2. Would you like to win the Nobel prize, Oscar or Olympic gold medal? Why?
I don’t have any intention to be nominated for either of the prize or medal. I prefer to provide real impact through a series of outcomes from my work and accomplishments. Instead I am interested in taking up a role in the government and hoping to create innovation amongst the bureaucratic system.
If there’s 1 question in the world where the universe provides you the correct answer, then what would this question be?
“What is life after death”
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The information appearing in this blog post is approved as a financial promotion by Funderbeam Markets Limited (authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under FRN 794918). Complete and comprehensive information about an investment opportunity is only available to the investors who have been approved by a Funderbeam group entity. Funderbeam does not provide investment advice or any recommendation to invest. The investment opportunity should not be considered as an offer to the public and is not directed at or offered to anyone located in a jurisdiction where it is unlawful to do so.