Opinions & Insights

DBS HotSpot #5: Fundraising 101

Neal Cross, Chief Innovation Officer, DBS Bank


Nov 2015

As we’ve spent more time learning from startups, we realized that two things that kept them up at night were:


  1. how they could raise capital
  2. how they could pitch to investors to secure funding.


While there’s nothing quite like the real thing to prepare them for pitching to investors on Demo Day, we did the next best thing – we organized simulation pitches with our own senior members.


 The HotSpot teams have already done several pitches in the past few weeks and to their credit, they have been performing far beyond our expectations, showing smart ideas and creating beautiful presentations to better sell their services and products. They can only get better for the actual Demo Day.


But what we found was that some startups were all too often jumping ahead, throwing themselves into building their pitch. There wasn’t enough strategic thought put into figuring how and where they were going get their funding from.


It’s important that all startups have the right foundation put in place and thinking about how you raise funds is one of the important planning components. With that in mind, here are a couple of steps I think any startup should have in place before they get to the pitching stage. My thanks to the startup mentors, Eric Tachibana and Jeffrey Paine, who in the past few weeks have continued to entrench this message into the minds of the HotSpot teams.


Below is a quick visual guide to secure funding for your startup:

Perhaps the best advice I can offer to startups is that even if an investor isn’t interested in funding you, remember that the pitch session is also an opportunity for you to build your network and your credibility. You won’t walk away from every session successful but you will definitely gain value from it. Have the humility to know that you can constantly improve on your approach.


To end, I’d like to point out again that while these lessons are incredibly useful for startups, there is also much that large corporations can learn. As I’ve said from the first day of this programme, this was always a two way-journey, for the startups to benefit from a relationship with DBS, and also for us at DBS to learn from the startups.


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