In evaluating companies at Betatron, where we see up to 3,000 deals each year, we’ve learned the hard way that having too many investors on the cap table can work against a founder.
The Logistics of Handling Many Investors Is Hard.
Each investor is a relationship that needs to be managed carefully: you have to reply to investor emails, keep them apprised of your progress, and sometimes get their signature on important changes. This last point - collecting signatures - can be painful and can actually slow down a company. We recommend using tools like Carta to manage investor documents, but sometimes even with those tools you have to chase people down.
For example, we have seen many companies move their corporate headquarters out of places like Bangladesh or Myanmar and into countries like Singapore. Imagine how complicated this would be if you had, say, 50 pre-existing Bangladeshi investors owning shares of the original company.
The Founder Needs Enough Equity For Themselves and Their Team To Survive Multiple Rounds of Fundraising.
We invest in founders, so we want founders to have both control over the company and deep incentive to continue working towards a big exit. We also want founders to have enough equity available to entice talented employees.
Bringing on multiple VC investors can cause a lot of dilution. VCs typically want 20% of the company when they invest. By bringing on more than one VC in an early-stage round, a founder risks getting diluted by far more than 20%.
Most startups need do multiple fundraising rounds before seeing an exit. Dilution for the founders is inevitable in the process, but if individual founders are left with tiny fractions of the company, they may not be motivated to stay on at the company for the long run.
Above: As funding rounds progress, founders lose more and more equity. Source: Dhiraj Bedi from o3 Capital.
Avoid Dead Equity.
Dead equity refers to investors who no longer add value to the company. They aren’t going to invest again and they aren’t opening new doors for the founders. While you’ll always have passive investors on the cap table, you’ll want to keep them to a minimum so that everyone involved in the company - investors included - are working together towards its success
Betatron Looks For Founders Who Will Retain Control.
Betatron invests in early-stage companies, the vast majority of which are either pre-seed or pre Series A. In both cases, we want the founding team to have a majority stake in the company. Ideally this is well over 65% of the company. Having less than 65% isn't a deal breaker but does beget a few more questions: has the founding team created an ESOP to attract talent? Do they preserve their control over the company through the shareholder agreement? Is their board structured in a way that the team makes final decisions? We want to see that the founders have taken steps to protect themselves and are aware of why their level of equity matters.
While many businesses are laying people off as the pandemic spreads, some startups are adapting quickly and rolling out new, urgently needed services. Here’s how some of the Betatron portfolio companies are adapting.
BookAirFreight Built A Site To Order & Ship Certified PPE
BookAirFreight’s pre-pandemic role was to find the best air-shipping rates for SMEs. They ship products door-to-door from suppliers in China to buyers everywhere.
Co-founders Daisy Jiang and Stefan Vainberg leveraged their deep supplier contacts with their ability to get freight on flights to solve a critical problem: people everywhere need trusted, certified PPE immediately.
"We all need to step up and do something to help," said Jiang.
Within a weekend they sourced certified producers, built an e-commerce ordering page, and secured certified inventory. BookAirFreight is already sending PPE by the thousands to the US.
Sakay: Built A Map to Help First Responders & Doctors
Sakay has the best transit maps available in the Philippines. It’s better than Google Maps because Sakay can track informal transit, like jeepneys and tricycles.
They built this map to make it easy for medical teams to get from one place to another. With this tool, doctors can know which types of transport are available to them, where and when to find them, and fastest routes to key medical and government locations. This is especially important at a time when most usual forms of transport have stopped running.
"Our health workers and frontliners are the real heroes here," said Philip Cheang, CEO of Sakay, "and we’re just happy that agencies, operators and volunteers can use our mapping technology and expertise to assist."
Truck Lagbe Deemed An Essential Business in Bangladesh
Truck Lagbe is an on-demand service providing commercial trucks in Bangladesh. Businesses use it to move supplies and products. Consumers use it when they want to move houses.
They’ve been deemed an essential business during the COVID shutdown. Truck stands where drivers, customers and brokers congregate to buy and sell trips have been closed, which has driven new users to the platform. Recognizing the Lockdown's dramatic economic impact, Truck Lagbe has enabled "1 taka trips," which lets truck owners donate trips to organizations in need.
"We're optimizing delivery of crucial goods such as food, medicines and groceries, so customers can stay home," said CFO Ravid Chowdhury.
Betatron Companies Are Trained to Adapt Fast
At Betatron, we take pride in supporting resilient entrepreneurs like these who have a strong bias towards action.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Firstly, happy Chinese New Year!
Betatron wishes you good prosperity and health during the year of the rat.
Singapore Investor Demo Day
Betatron is very excited to announce that we're increasing our investment amount up to US$500,000 for each startup in Cohort #6.
Applications for Cohort #6 are now officially OPEN.
The main focus of the Betatron program is to help each startup raise their next round of funding and accelerate business growth.
In addition, we will be providing our startups with an investor roadshow across Asia and North America, including Demo Days in Hong Kong, Singapore and Silicon Valley.
Applications close on 18th March 2020 with the four-month program starting in Q2, 2020.
To apply and learn more about the process, please visit: betatron.co/apply
If you have any questions, please email us: email@example.com
Betatron is excited to announce the details of our first-ever Demo Day in Singapore. We're honored for it to be kindly hosted at the Singapore Exchange (SGX).
The event will take place on Friday, 17th January 2020 at 3:30 PM - 7:00 PM.
Along with our eight startups from cohort #5, a selection of our cohort #4 alumni will be giving a short introduction of their businesses. Drinks and canapés will also be served afterwards.
The event is targeted at investors who can register here.
We look forward to seeing you there and wish you all the best for 2020!
We're excited to announce that Demo Day for our Cohort #5 startups will be held on Wednesday 11th December at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
This year, we're delighted to have Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our sponsor, who we've been working closely with since we first launched Betatron.
Betatron has invested in eight startups across Asia, Europe and the Middle East for Cohort #5 with each one receiving up to US$150,000 of investment capital.
Our startups went through a rigorous due diligence process and were carefully selected out of 1,300+ applications. The companies embarked on a personalized and intensive 3-month journey during which their businesses were further validated, refined and accelerated to position them for rapid growth.
DEMO DAY AGENDA
6.30pm: Registration & Networking
7.00pm: Welcome Speech & Introduction
7.15pm: Company Demos
8.00pm: Canapés, Drinks & Networking
ABOUT OUR SPONSOR
For 13 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 165 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 69 Availability Zones (AZs) within 22 geographic regions, spanning the U.S., Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com.
Amazon Web Services provides startups with a low cost, easy to use infrastructure needed to scale and grow. With the AWS Activate program, startups get access to the resources they need to quickly get started on AWS – including credits, training, and support.
They currently have a Portfolio package designed for startups associated with AWS Activate Providers, such as accelerators, incubators, seed/VC funds, and other startup-enabling organizations. The world’s hottest and most successful startups use AWS – including Airbnb, Lyft, and Slack. Join them – and build your business on AWS today.
WANT TO RESERVE YOUR TICKET?
There are a limited amount of tickets available, so please reserve your spot ASAP.
Betatron has invested up to US$150,000 into each startup and will guide each one through its three-month program which ends in December 2019. The focus of the program is to accelerate business growth and fast-track each startup to its next funding round.
Each startup gets allocated a lead mentor from Betatron’s network of VCs and selected industry experts and also receives hands-on mentorship and support on marketing, sales, tech development, UI/UX, legal, and accounting.
For Cohort #5, Betatron received 1,301 applications, interviewed 247 startups, and conducted due diligence on 65 of them - resulting in an overall acceptance rate of 0.61%. The eight startups are an international mix of B2B focused companies from Hong Kong (2), Singapore (3), The Philippines, USA, and Egypt.
The Eight Startups in Cohort #5
Bookairfreight (Hong Kong) is an online booking platform which connects SMEs with air freight forwarders - making booking air freight as easy as booking flight tickets. Unlike other platforms, they provide instant door-to-door quotations, save businesses at least 20% on the costs, and reduce the booking process from days to seconds. Within a year of launch, they are averaging 70% MoM growth with a 40% referral rate.
ExpandCart (Egypt) is a comprehensive, cloud e-commerce platform and is essentially building the “Shopify” designed specifically for the Arabic language and MENA region, as global competitors don’t offer Arabic language functionalities due to the complexities of the language structure. ExpandCart enables individuals and businesses to create a professional online shop in minutes by themselves without the need for any technical experience or assistance, whilst also integrating with marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba Etsy, Ebay, etc. ExpandCart has already received investment from one of the world’s largest logistics companies, putting them perfectly positioned to scale rapidly across its target market.
Next Billion (Singapore) digitizes offline retail data from independent retail stores across rural emerging markets - a large, untapped market as independent stores make up 90% of FMCG sales in Asia, but brands have limited access to this sales data. NextBillion deploys their free POS platform within rural stores, enabling them to aggregate & analyze large amounts of retail data and provide real-time, flexible, and affordable insights to brands. They incentivize stores to use their platform by paying them for verified data, sharing fair royalties when companies buy their data and leveraging their data to extend credit & insurance. Over the last few years, they’ve successfully operated thousands of rural marketing campaigns in Asia & Africa with 25 leading FMCG brands.
Positive Energy (Singapore) helps investors connect with vetted small to medium-sized renewable energy developers/projects - streamlining the full investment process with a secure digital platform. The platform offers matchmaking, standardised and digitalised due diligence workflow, 3rd party verification as well as asset management tools - reducing transaction costs & time by 50%. The team brings together a wealth of experience in the energy industry, from Schneider Electric and Royal Dutch Shell.
Sakay (Philippines) is a transportation and mapping software that understands informal transport networks. More than 500 million people in the developing world can't use apps to plan trips, because their public transport options (like family-owned and independent jeeps/buses and motorcycle sidecars) are invisible to navigation services like Google Maps. Sakay is the Waze/Citymapper for informal public transit and is being built to be the core infrastructure for navigation and real-time analysis of public transit networks worldwide - generating valuable urban planning and mapping data across Asia’s emerging markets. The team has an eight-year proven record of shipping products and solving problems for Fortune 500 companies, social enterprises and governments. Currently, they have 500,000 users in their first launched city of Manilla, Philippines.
SHIPNEXT (USA) is a Digital Automated Shipping Marketplace & Network, that creates an efficient, secure and reliable Cargo-to-Ship matching, freight trading, contracting and documentation flow. Unlike other alternatives, their unique algorithm can process thousands of emails, matching the most suitable transportation solutions with each other in seconds. They have a highly technical and scientific team with over 20 years of experience in the shipping and supply chain industry. The platform connects 85 databases, 5600+ ports, over 25000 ships positions which is 99% of the global map & dry-bulk fleet, and 2600+ users, creating over 4500 freight requests daily.
Toku (Singapore) is a cloud communication provider that enables smart customer engagement via voice and messaging APIs. As a rapidly growing CPaaS (Communications Platform-as-a-Service) player with the largest range of virtual numbers in Singapore, Toku offers a wide portfolio of services ranging from a core telco offering to next-generation communication features. To date, they have signed up over 50 telecom partners and have large customers including Grab, GoJek, and Twilio.
ZhenHub (Hong Kong) is a cloud-based inventory and order management system for eCommerce retailers to automate logistics. The platform enables clients to manage all their inventory and orders from a single online dashboard - eliminating data entry, spreadsheets and emails. The solution integrates sales channels like Shopify and automatically fulfils orders - automating the fulfilment process.
If you'd like to reach out to any of our startups, please email me and let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org
Our startups have been hard at work preparing their pitches for tomorrow's Demo Day.
We're close to finalizing the guestlist so this is your last opportunity to reserve your tickets.
As a reminder, the event will take place on Thursday 4th July at 7.00pm - 9.00pm. The venue is the HKEX Connect Hall, One Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong.
The agenda is as follows.
7.00pm: Registration & Networking
7.30pm: Welcome Speech & Introduction
7.40pm: Company Demos
8.30pm: Food, Drinks & Networking
10.30pm: After-party (for VIP ticket holders)
Each startup will have their own booth and will be based there during the networking sessions before and after the pitches.
If you'd like to set up a meeting with a specific startup or with the Betatron team, please let me know.
Click here to reserve your tickets.
Demo Day for our startups in Cohort #4 has just been finalized and will be hosted again at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange's HKEX event space.
During this private event, our cohort will present their businesses to an audience of investors, strategic partners, and media.
Attendees will get exclusive first access to our startups, meet the founders, and an opportunity to network with investors, press and ecosystem catalysts.
This is Hong Kong’s opportunity to access early-stage companies of vetted quality and industry variety.
In addition to receiving funding; our startups went through a rigorous due diligence process and were carefully selected out of 654 applicants.
The companies embarked on a personalized and intensive 4-month journey during which their businesses were further validated, refined and accelerated to position them for rapid growth.
If you'd like to attend, please visit: betatron.co/demo-day to apply for a ticket.
It's been a busy travel schedule for the Betatron team over the last couple of weeks. Several of us have been on the road, visiting a variety of startup conferences and diving into their ecosystems.