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