AsianScientist (Aug. 13, 2021) – From Broadway to the Royal Shakespeare Company, theater comes alive with dazzling lights, engaging music and dramatic flair. Behind the scenes, theater producers ensure the show runs smoothly, helping actors tell a striking story while raising funds to avoid their last curtain call.
Running a deep tech company is much like staging a show, according to former theater producer Ms. Lisa Enckell, who is now a Singapore-based partner at global venture capitalist firm Antler.
While actors improvise to deliver dramatic tension and capture their audience, developers innovate tech-driven solutions to answer unmet needs in areas like education and sustainability.
“Both groups create things from nothing and can impact millions of people with their work and their skills,” shared Enckell.
To address the globe’s pressing challenges, deep tech founders bring the latest technological advancements like artificial intelligence and blockchain from the lab into the commercial space. However, they rely on adequate investments to keep the show going.
As an angel investor, Enckell works with the Antler team to discern the potential of deep tech ideas, fund startups in their earliest stages and accelerate their growth. Through the platform, startup teams receive close mentorship from a coach and connect with global advisors in the Antler network, whether for technical or commercial expertise.
Moreover, a pervading collaborative spirit enriches the deep tech community, explained Enckell. Founders learn from and share insights with fellow creative doers around the globe, while Antler’s investment committees are deeply entrenched within local startup ecosystems to adequately support these budding companies.
By encouraging rapid testing and feedback on the ground, Antler’s program helps deep tech companies develop and refine their products to match customer needs. To garner investments, Enckell noted that validating the product-market fit is most vital—especially during the ideation stage before a prototype has even been built.
“It’s easy to over-engineer something in the early phase, and then it gets harder to iterate and change over time,” she said. “Show what you are working on as early as possible for different kinds of people to get a broad range of valuable insights and feedback.”
After establishing product-market fit, Antler invests pre-seed capital and guides founders through regulatory fundamentals like incorporation, so they can find their footing. As startups map out their fundraising and growth strategies, Enckell and colleagues take charge of linking them up with potential investors, partners and customers.
With such resources, startups like Sama, a job matching platform in Singapore, are primed for success. Instead of incurring debts by using foreign agents, migrant workers contact Sama through WhatsApp. To make recruitment more accessible and transparent, the platform matches job seekers with industry roles based on their skills and provides a digital wallet to easily transfer funds back home.
Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia-based startup Sampingan develops business management solutions. Its staffing app integrates screening candidates, assigning tasks and compensating workers accordingly, while a workforce management system monitors and analyzes performance data in real time. Sampingan not only helps companies execute projects and scale, but also provides economic value to thousands of freelancers in the country.
By helping startups gain early traction, Enckell and the team enable them to overcome growing pains and effectively build from the ground up. These initiatives have continued even amid the pandemic, which shuttered numerous companies and aggravated issues from healthcare access to food security.
For Enckell, COVID-19’s disruptions haven’t discouraged investments in deep tech—quite the opposite, in fact. As organizations have increasingly adopted tech in their operations, the deep tech sector is poised to deliver novel and efficient solutions across industries.
“We need more startups solving the world’s problems,” Enckell emphasized. “I am very passionate about supporting the people who dare to take the step to start companies on their own.”
Her unwavering commitment stems from spending nearly a decade with various early-stage companies, including taking Antler from concept to what it is today. Besides gaining a sense of ownership over fostering growth, she had firsthand insight into the struggles of having small teams, tight deadlines and inadequate resources.
These experiences and her theatrical background have molded Enckell to see restrictions as opportunities for improvisation. With Antler investing in the companies of tomorrow, she hopes that more startups will carry a similar mindset to innovate and successfully take flight.
“These restrictions force you to think creatively, and it’s so much easier to be creative with restrictions than with a blank sheet of paper. As startup founders, we should celebrate these restrictions and view them as gifts,” Enckell concluded.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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