from the bot­tom up

How do en­trepreneurs thrive in whirlpool of com­pe­ti­tion, un­cer­tainty and eco­nomic fragility? we speak to four sin­ga­pore-based start-ups about se­cur­ing fund­ing and what lies ahead

Prestige (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - Text Baiju and Lydianne yap Trans­la­tion Zara Zhuang PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Laven­dar Chang

How do en­trepreneurs thrive in com­pe­ti­tion, un­cer­tainty and eco­nomic fragility, while search­ing for fund­ing?

Level up

the brain­child of daniel chia and cyn­thia siantar, fi­nan­cial mon­i­tor­ing app call lev­els stream­lines the te­dious task of mar­ket track­ing for pri­vate in­vestors and fi­nance pro­fes­sion­als

For those with a con­stant eye on the fi­nan­cial mar­kets, one-and-a-hal­fyear-old fi­nan­cial mon­i­tor­ing mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion Call Lev­els is likely to be a god­send. Cre­ated by Sin­ga­pore­ans Cyn­thia Siantar and Daniel Chia and named af­ter the top re­quest from clients in the fi­nance and trade in­dus­try — “call me when the price reaches this level” — the app runs on a patent-pend­ing al­go­rithm that scans the mar­kets ev­ery minute, then sends push no­ti­fi­ca­tions to users when the as­sets they are watch­ing hit a pre-set price level.

Be­sides be­ing a con­ve­nient way to keep track of move­ments in the mar­ket, Call Lev­els is also lauded for its sim­plic­ity and ease of use — some­thing that is lack­ing in most fi­nan­cial tools, says Siantar, 29, who was for­merly from HSBC’S Equity Cap­i­tal Mar­kets (Asean) team. “The land­scape in Asia is such that the av­er­age pri­vate wealth client has eight or nine bank ac­counts. So there’s a lot of com­plex­ity and noise when it comes to trad­ing, and you re­ally just want a sim­ple ser­vice to use,” adds Chia, 36, who was pre­vi­ously a port­fo­lio man­ager at a US$4 bil­lion sys­tem­atic macro hedge fund based in Hong Kong.

Se­cur­ing early in­vestors for Call Lev­els did not prove to be much of a chal­lenge. While a num­ber were brought over from the duo’s pre­vi­ous start-up ven­ture, Blastout (an event­based so­cial net­work­ing ap­pli­ca­tion), a good num­ber of its ini­tial an­gel in­vestors were fi­nance in­dus­try vet­er­ans who saw po­ten­tial in their prod­uct. Among them are for­mer DBS Bank Chair­man Koh Boon Hwee and EX-GIC Di­rec­tor Ti­mothy Teo. The lat­ter noted that Call Lev­els meets a very im­por­tant need for in­vestors and traders, and “lev­els the play­ing field for smaller play­ers, who can now eas­ily ac­cess cus­tomised news, views and rel­e­vant re­search when­ever they set a price alert”.

The com­pany closed its US$500,000 pre-se­ries A fund­ing round in No­vem­ber last year led by 500 Star­tups, a Sil­i­con Val­ley­based ven­ture cap­i­tal seed fund and start-up ac­cel­er­a­tor. This Fe­bru­ary, In­done­sian real es­tate con­glom­er­ate Lippo Group also in­vested an undis­closed sum in the Sin­ga­pore-head­quar­tered firm.

De­but­ing in Oc­to­ber 2014, the fin­tech start-up quickly at­tracted users from around the globe and an­nounced a day-on-day growth of 21 per­cent and week-on-week growth of 35 per­cent in No­vem­ber 2015. This year, it ex­pe­ri­enced a 400 per­cent surge in user growth in the months be­tween De­cem­ber 2015 and Fe­bru­ary 2016. “I think the prod­uct sells it­self,” says Siantar, who was named in Forbes’ 30 Un­der 30 (Fi­nance and Ven­ture Cap­i­tal) list this year. “As a re­sult, part­ner­ships with banks and other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions come about quite nat­u­rally for us.” A prime ex­am­ple of this is Call Lev­els’ re­cently an­nounced part­ner­ship with DBS Vick­ers Se­cu­ri­ties, which stemmed from the in­sti­tu­tion’s CEO Lim Kok-ann be­ing a user of the app. This col­lab­o­ra­tion adds SGX Eq­ui­ties to the app’s avail­able mar­kets for mon­i­tor­ing. It pre­vi­ously only of­fered track­ing for Forex, US Eq­ui­ties, Com­modi­ties, In­dices and Bit­coin.

Plans for global ex­pan­sion are al­ready un­der­way. Hav­ing been in­vited to join the exclusive Lon­don-based fin­tech hub Level39, the duo are now look­ing for the right team to staff their UK off­shoot. They also in­tend to set up an of­fice in Hong Kong soon.

On the tech­ni­cal front, new func­tions and im­prove­ments to the ap­pli­ca­tion are be­ing de­vel­oped as we speak and will be launched within the year, re­veals Chia. These in­clude paid op­tions for the ad­di­tion of more call lev­els (users are cur­rently given a max­i­mum of 15) and crowd­sourc­ing ini­tia­tives that will alert users to the most viewed as­sets and price lev­els.

“There’s a lot of com­plex­ity and noise when it comes to trad­ing, and you re­ally just want a sim­ple ser­vice to use”

— Daniel Chia

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