CEO Series

Behind The VC Company Founded By A Malaysian Who's Faced Bankruptcy Twice In His Career

Consider TinkBig as a baby startup’s First Venture Capitalist because they are “comfortable with the rough imperfection of a new venture”. In fact, their team of 11 seasoned entrepreneurs aims to help startups even from the roughest ideation stage to commercialisation.

We caught up with Andrew Tan, co-founder and Venture Partner of TinkBig for a look into his insight into business, as well as TinkBig as a whole.

According to Andrew, “Most of us have been taught to think outside the box, but my personal philosophy is that there is no box at all. Why do most people try to box themselves in when you can just tear the box away and let your imagination and creativity run wild?”

Thus, Andrew brought his personal philosophy into even the logo design of his company, with the words bursting out of a box to signify their support for immense creativity.

Learning From Their Own Mistakes

As an entrepreneur, Andrew thinks that the team can contribute the accumulation of their vast experience and learnings from their own mistakes for the benefit of all of their incubatees.

He shared that his own journey has been a roller coaster over the past 18 years he’s been in business. He said, “I have grown two companies into being listed in both Malaysia and Singapore, and through that journey faced bankruptcy twice.”

Image Credit: TinkBig Venture

Prior to starting TinkBig, Andrew and his co-founders liked the show Shark Tank so much that they ran a startup incubation program just like it back in 2015. According to Andrew, “Rather than just a boring boardroom presentation, we treated the whole audition and pitching session as a live reality show.”

In the end, even Andrew said that while the concept was good, the execution left something to be desired. “During a short 9 month span, we had invested in 16 startups. However because they were in the early ideation stage and because we were also new in the incubation scene at the time, this was a disaster in the making. Most of our investments went down badly after few months in operation as we were not used to hand-holding.”

“We realised that during the ideation stage, startup founders need a lot of guidance, as well as time and resources to assist them into crafting a business model, as well as mentoring them into building a sustainable business.”

But the team’s saving grace came when GLC company bought the show and incubator for 7 times the starting cost. With a renewed understanding of the business and cash in hand, TinkBig Venture came to be as a fully-fledged Venture Capitalist.

Bringing Startups On Board

Image Credit: Shuttershock

According to the team, there are no prerequisites prior joining TinkBig. “We focus on the founder domain experience and execution ability. We hope to bring in pool of talents and entrepreneurs who understand the entrepreneurship journey as a career path rather than just a lifestyle,” said Andrew.

However, he clarified that they highly recommend that startups come to them once they have entered their commercialisation stage. “Our forté is working with a product on marketing and scalability of the company. However, we do partner very early with startup even during their ideation stage as long as the founder has a clear vision about the problem that they are solving and the solution that they are presenting.”

If so, the TinkBig team will come in with funds and assistance in developing the solution.

“Our counsel can start from as early as company structuring. We will work with the founder to ensure that their company is setup in accordance to their business activity.”

Andrew and his team will also be able to help startups with their legal work, tightening up any loose ends as most startups do not tend to have the capacity or resources to look into this prior their funding round. Once that it done, they will then help develop the Business Model Canvas in order to identify some key information points before working with them on their SWOT analysis to identify the threats and opportunities in their business.

Startups that want to have a sounding board or a second pair of eyes to tell them whether they are on the right track can seek help from TinkBig as well.

“We’re here to bring what we’ve learned since our founders raised over $200 million across 500 rounds. Our team of design and content pros can help companies improve their odds in the fundraising process—helping them craft a compelling narrative, set the right strategy and build a visual presentation that gets the job done.”

But startups with TinkBig don’t have to just take it from them.

They Welcome The “Competition”

Life is better through cooperation anyway.

They’ve also been working on TinkBig Network, a platform that connects startup builders across the entire portfolio. Andrew explained, “Today, our CEOs can reach out to other CEOs, marketers to marketers, and engineers to engineers to get the data, advice, and support they need. We’re constantly fielding feedback from members of the Network to build tools they actually want and need.”

“With this focus on building a digital community, we can mine some fascinating data. We publish our most interesting findings every year, to give companies even greater insight into the tech ecosystem.”

Besides that, since TinkBig does not tend to end up being the lead investor in a company, they are also keen on linking entrepreneurs to the people with the money, the investors.

“We always welcome other co-investors ranging for VC to angels to co invest with us as we believe our focus is driving more value to the startup and bring the right people and resources into it.”

To prove this point, TinkBig Venture even invested into an app that serves as a bridge between startups and investors. BEAM serves as a platform where they can interact, look for services, ask for funding and seek engagement.

Getting Startups Networking Advantages

Connection is key

One benefit of getting in with the guys in TinkBig is getting connections.

Andrew insists that as they are investing across multiple industries, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Through their experience and through some expert counsel, “Each counsel or value creation will be highly focused on the company and industry and we will then craft out a strategy and action plan with the founders specifically focusing on their challenge.”

“Hiring is the hardest thing founders do, period. And in this crazy talent market it’s getting more grueling. The average founder dedicates 50% of their time to the task. But our talent team is willing to share this heavy load, making intros to the best people we know for critical hires, rewriting job descriptions, walking through compensation strategies, and helping close win-win deals.”

While they do not currently have any job hunter affiliations, this is again where their massive network comes in, to find the best people for a startup.

Even when it comes to solving problems, “Eventually, all founders run into a problem they can’t solve—they haven’t seen it before or don’t know where to start. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to work with hundreds of people who have defined what success in tech looks like.”

“Today, these people are our Expert Network. When you need help, we find you the exact right person to dive in and help work through big one-off challenges. Experts include executives with decades of know-how, all willing to meet over coffee or help as official advisors to put you in the express lane,” said Andrew.

Feature Image Credit: TinkBig Venture

Subscribe to Vulcan Post Newsletter

Stay updated with our weekly curated news and updates.