By the SMU Social Media Team
After graduating in 2013, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business alumnus Benjamin Twoon went on to help set up Fundnel, an online investment platform that leverages data and technology to simplify the way people invest. Explaining the venture, he said: “We are creating a new online finance eco-system with the aim of modernising the fundraising/investment process for the new open access economy we live in today.”
Since its inception, Fundnel has helped investors to source and invest in 12 deals worth more than US$8m. “To complete those 12 deals, we had to rely a lot on the expertise of our investment team to screen over 400 deal opportunities and leverage on our network of over 2,000 individual investors. It is a long process but we are confident that this will be more efficient as we improve on our screening and analytics technologies,” he added.
There has been plenty of hype surrounding fintech, especially in the crowdfunding space. With the advent of the JOBS Act in the US, and the rise of prominent platforms for alternative funding such as CircleUp, Our Crowd and Crowdfunder, many Singaporean entrepreneurs have been inspired to venture into this field.
Benjamin Twoon giving a talk at The Tonic X cafe by SMU’s Alumni Association
Fundnel’s founding team of finance sleuths, data analysts and creative folk left their jobs in banking and consulting believing it was the right time to pursue such an endeavour. And they have successfully navigated the funding maze, which can often prove a stumbling block for start-ups. “At the start, you’d basically speak to any and everyone who would give you a chance to meet them. Those who would be most supportive at the beginning are family and friends. Also, reach out to people who believe in your team, cause and product. Alternative financing methods such as crowdfunding leverage technology to bridge such individuals with teams, and such early indications give the team invaluable feedback about their idea, product or market potential,’’ he advised.
The entrepreneur is still very much involved with SMU, speaking at university events, mentoring students and contributing to roundtables to help shape the entrepreneurial ecosystem at SMU. During his studies and now as an entrepreneur, Benjamin has been heavily involved with the SMU Eagles Inc. He actually kickstarted the group with a financial contribution along with friend Jeff Tung, a fellow SMU alumnus. “We make time, whenever we are in town (Jeff is based in North Asia, while I frequently travel for work), to meet the student entrepreneurs, to share our experiences with them and to see how we can support them.”
Jeff Tung (centre) and Benjamin Twoon (right) presented a cheque of $1 million to Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business Professor Gerry George for the establishment of the P.A.K Entrepreneurship Fund.
Describing the start-up scene in Singapore, he concluded: “The start-up scene here is steadily growing with a palpable vibrancy that is infectious. Part of the equation involves the support of government agencies and institutes of higher learning. I do believe that a lot more millennials are seeing the impact that technology is creating in their lives – and they want to be part of this revolution.”