Two successful Singapore events show strong interest in Crowdfunding in Asia
By Raghev Hegde
The organization of two major events in Singapore has given a major boost to the Crowdfunding industry in not only Singapore, but also Asia as a whole. While Crowdfunding is already an important source of investment for small businesses and innovative startups in the United States, especially with the huge popularity of sites such as kickstarter.com, it is yet to take off in Asia for various reasons. But the overwhelming publicity generated in the region by two well conducted events – the EPIC 2014 and the first ever CrowdFunding Asia Summit, point out to the fact that while the story may just have begun for Crowdfunding in Asia, already its potential is seemingly limitless. We discuss each of the two events in this article.
EPIC 2014, Singapore
The 2-day event held by CoAssets, a Singapore based start-up, in July this year has been billed as Asia’s first major crowdfunding event. EPIC 2014 or Expo for Property Investing and Crowdfunding 2014 saw widespread participation from the crowdfunding community based not just in Singapore, but from all over Asia. There were as many as 500 delegates who attended the event and it was an immediate success, garnering investments worth S$20 million.
“We think that the event was very successful on several fronts. As real estate crowdfunding is still in its infancy stage, face time between the Opportunity Provider (OPs) and Funders is needed to establish some trust before any deals can be done online. Therefore, EPIC 2014 was not only intended to engage stakeholders on the potential of real estate crowdfunding, it was also an avenue for the OPs to meet up with the Funders to discuss deals. In terms of crowdfunding pledges, the event has done exceptionally well, garnering a collective figure of more than S$20 million. This amount is based on figures collected from the OPs on both days. Akin to our online process, the onus is now on the OPs to follow up with the Funders. However, even if not all of the deals materialize, this clearly demonstrates the potential of real estate crowdfunding and the outlook is definitely very exciting.”
High profile delegates
Many famous innovators, entrepreneurs and investors active in crowdfunding activity throughout the world attended the event, none more so than Tim Kobe a world famous architect and CEO of 8 Inc, who was invited as a delegate and conference speaker. Mr. Kobe worked with the late Steve Jobs in conceptualizing the first Apple Store and is currently involved heavily in real estate crowdfunding in Asia. Mr.Kobe had this to say:
“I think (EPIC) is a great event. I think CoAssets, in terms of bringing the idea of crowdsourcing into real estate, is actually quite innovative. I think they are doing a really good service for the industry and I don’t think the industry fully appreciates it at that level (yet). I think (CoAssets) is at the front edge of a trend that is going to grow”.
Other prominent delegates at EPIC 2014 included Dr Jeffrey Chi, Chairman of Singapore Venture Capitalist and Private Equity Association (SVCA), Mr Georg Chmiel, CEO of iProperty Group, Mr Paul Niederer, CEO of Australian Small Scale Offerings Board (ASSOB) and Dr Dolf de Roos, author of New York Times bestseller Real Estate Riches.
CrowdFunding Asia Summit 2014
The other major crowdfunding event held in Singapore was the first ever CrowdFunding Asia Summit. The conference, held in the first week of August this year, had twin purposes – to raise awareness of crowdfunding as a source of investment for small business entrepreneurs in Asia and to bring together a diverse set of innovators, startups, investors, and general public, interested in crowdfunding, in one place, as as ‘One Crowd’, as the event organizers termed it.
The conference went on for two hectic days, and featured dozens of keynote speakers from across the global crowdfunding community. Some of the topics discussed were,
- “Invest in the new era of Crowdfunding with digital crowd economy”
- “Global development and perspective on Crowdfunding: What’s the potential in Asia?”
- “Cyber Frauders, Hackers & Swindlers in Crowdfunding”
- “Digital marketing & your online network; what makes or breaks a campaign?”
- “Crowdfunding ignites and reshape investing in REAL Estate”
- “Crowdfunding in Asean Economic Community and what impacts and change? Will it ignite the startup and innovation to drive entrepreneurship?”
- “Structure, framework & policy to support the growth of Crowdfunding – Legal, Audit & Accounting”
- “Crowdfunding, Incubators and Venture Capitalist; what all 3 have in common.
As one of the delegates at the conference, Ibu Lolly Amalia Abdullah, Director for Cooperation and Facilitation, Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy, Indonesia put it,
“Crowdfunding is really the solution and help for the entrepreneurs, especially digipreneurs to make their dreams come true by developing their IP for showing their capability, innovation and creativity, as well as their brand. So the crowdfunding just like a beam of light comes from the end of the tunnel for the digipreneurs.”
The most significant part of the CrowdFunding Asia Summit 2014 was the program, “Pitch Perfect”, which had 23 entrepreneurs, innovators, non-profit organizations pitch their case to the massive crowd gathered at the summit as well as to the expert panel, who gave them excellent advice on how to carry their dream forward.
The prize for the best idea at the summit should without a shadow of doubt goes to the development of a dengue detector by a team led by Professor Robert S. Marks, which aims to predict the possibilities of severe dengue hemorrhagic fever and could potentially save millions of lives.
The famous Singaporean singer/songwriter Sarah Cheng-De Winne was also widely appreciated by the audience for her excellent singing. She hopes to raise SGD$20,000 to fund her latest bi-lingual album CANDLE, entirely through crowdfunding. There were also several entrepreneurs from Thailand, Indonesia, India and Hongkong who made the case for their businesses.
The conference was a major success, and this portends well for the future of crowdfunding in Asia. Future conferences are planned for other countries in the region.