How Jeffrey Paine became a startup ecosystem leader in Singapore
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Singapore city skyline at night / Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The leader of the Singapore Founder Institute shares his surprising conclusions on why Singaporean startups fail

Founder Institute

Jeffrey Paine is one of the most active startup ecosystem leaders in all of Asia. Besides being a thought leader in Asia’s most important startup publications, Jeff leads the Singapore Founder Institute, has helped launch numerous Founder Institute chapters across Southeast Asia, and is the Co-Founder and General Partner of Golden Gate Ventures.

It really is a perfect fit, as Golden Gate Ventures focuses on “Bringing Silicon Valley to Asia” through venture capital, while Founder Institute “Globalizes Silicon Valley” to Asia through its structured entrepreneur training program.

When he first decided to become a leader in the Singaporean startup scene, he started by establishing a Founder Institute chapter there. With considerable entrepreneurial experience under his belt, both in Silicon Valley and internationally, Paine was able to accelerate the development of the Singaporean startup ecosystem.

In total, Jeff’s Founder Institute Semesters have graduated over 115 companies in Singapore, including wildly successful companies like iCarsClub, Gridblaze and Vibease.

These companies have stood out perhaps because Paine has developed a unique perspective while leading his FI chapter, and helping to launch other chapters throughout Southeast Asia.

As Jeff runs his classes, he emphasizes his perspective on what makes the best companies.

The number one problem for any startup is the business idea, and not the execution. Everybody tells you that 99% is about execution, but if your idea is stupid and if you execute well on a stupid idea, you will still fail. So the idea must be interesting enough, unique enough, defensible enough, and it must fit the founder.”

This is why the Founder Institute has been so relevant, especially in Singapore. Paine has emphasized that one of the main problems there is a sheer lack of “great” startup ideas.

In short, many Singapore-based founders start out with small visions and weak ideas (not bold nor crazy enough nor targeting a large enough market). This is fairly common if they are first time entrepreneurs and perfectly alright.”

As Silicon Valley becomes more globalized, perhaps Paine is on the right track and we should focus on training entrepreneurs to come up with better ideas.

It has certainly worked in Singapore, with iCarsClub alone getting a total of $70 million in funding, while GridBlaze was acquired for seven figures within its first year of operation.

While Paine’s equity in such companies from the Founder Institute has definitely paid off, the effects beyond that are worth much more. Paine has been able to make strong connections, and become such an important part of the startup ecosystem in Singapore, that his VC fund has been able to make a much larger impact. As more Singaporean startups have access to large amounts of funding, it is inspiring more entrepreneurs in the area to get involved and create a better startup climate for everyone.

See a sampling of some of the fast-growing companies Jeff has helped launch through the Singapore Founder Institute below

  • iCarsClub: iCarsClub is a peer-to-peer car sharing market place for car renters and car owners. The company has raised over $70 million in funding, and now has operations across Southeast Asia and China.
  • GridBlaze: A storage-as-a-service platform that provided a proximity based storage network for developers to create smart, location aware applications. GridBlaze was acquired for seven figures within its first year of operation.
  • Vibease: Vibease is a “smart vibrator” and app that helps couples stay intimate. The company has been featured aross countless news channels, received several hundred thousand dollars in angel investment, and raised $130,000 on a $15,000 Indiegogo campaign.
  • ClubVivre: Clubvivre is a website that allows a group of people (4+) to enjoy a private dining experience with a chosen original menu and top chefs. The company is growing quickly and has been featured in almost every major news outlet in Southeast Asia.
  • ContractIQ: The leading, hand-curated marketplace for world class engineering studios to build mobile products for startups and enterprises. The company features a database of over 10,000 engineering resources, and services clients all across the globe.
  • FlightOffice: has developed a SaaS-based end to end solution for aviation companies to manage their operations. The company has raised over $500,000 in funding.
  • TapGenes: TapGenes takes a personalized approach to health, turning your family health information into easy to understand preventative medicine; helping you manage chronic conditions and to fight diseases before they happen. The company has raised a small seed round and is growing nicely.
  • Vault Dragon: Vault Dragon offers hassle-free, secure and on-demand urban storage solutions with flexible terms. The company graduated from the JFDI.Asia startup accelerator.
  • WhizMeal: Whizmeal is a technology startup which champions healthy eating in schools, to combat the growing obesity rate for Singapore kids (currently at 12%). The company continues to sign on new schools on its mission to cut the obesity rate in half by 2022.

If you want to learn more about Jeffrey Paine check out his blog.

This post was originally published on Founder Institute’s blog.

Featured Image Credit: Singapore city skyline at night / Shutterstock.


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