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Seedstars finally finds its first M’sian champion in a local fintech & grants it US$500k

Finology, a Malaysian fintech startup was announced as the Grand Finale Winner of Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 with a US$500k equity investment.

It competed against 5,000 other startups across various continents, was narrowed down as 1 of 5 finalists, and eventually emerged victorious yesterday, making it the first Malaysian startup to be Seedstars’ Global Winner.

Finology is based in KL and specialises in improving access to financial products and services like marketplaces, API services, and more. The startup is co-founded by Robin Ang and Jared Lim, who came from backgrounds of entrepreneurship as well as banking and computing respectively.

Went head-to-head with 20 other M’sian teams

Seedstars is a Swiss-based private group that brands itself as the largest startup competition in the world, and it’s considered one of the most prestigious startup accelerators too.

Overall, Finology’s Seedstars experience took about 10 months, starting with their application in August 2020. From there, they went through preliminary screening and were then invited to pitch at a national competition against 20 other Malaysian teams before a panel of judges.

When they won in Malaysia, they were later sent to join the regional competition and repeated their pitch at the Asia semi-final and final rounds with panels of different judges each time.

Throughout, they also took part in classroom programmes from Seedstars Academy, and had access to their panel of mentors with different specialisations. And of course, their journey ended with them topping the list in Asia and representing the region in the global finals yesterday.

A seasoned player in the fintech scene

Finology currently has 2 marketplaces, Loanstreet and Loanplus. While both of them work with home loans, here’s how they’re different:

LoanstreetLoanplus
Direct-to-consumer. Users can apply for home loans and personal loans online, and even purchase motorcycle and car insurances directly from their portal. It also provides instant price quotes and loan eligibility limits from various insurers and banks.B2B2C service used by property developers and real estate agents. When they sell a property, they use Loanplus to get mortgage pre-approvals for their customers within minutes.

Dictionary Time: B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) is where Company 1 sells their product or service in partnership with Company 2 to an end customer.

Big Commerce

Besides that, they also provide credit and insurance APIs for businesses who want to get bank loan pre-approvals for their customers and sell insurance on their own platforms respectively.

So far, they’ve worked with big names like iProperty, Mudah.my, Tropicana, UEM Sunrise, RHB, Hannover Re, Zurich, Gibraltar BSN, and international clients. 

They didn’t think initially had a good shot at winning

“Never would we have imagined when we first started 10 months ago, we’d be global champions,” shared Jared with Vulcan Post. “It was only after we got past the other Asian finalists did we start thinking we had a good shot at being champions.”

What was special about this year’s competition was that everything was fully held online as well. “Otherwise, I’d be writing to you from Switzerland now,” Jared joked. 

Championed the global stage / Image Credit: Finology

Competing virtually has its own set of challenges. There were times when the live broadcasts cut off during their pitching sessions, and moments where the voice quality was so poor that juries struggled to listen to what they were saying. 

However, the other challenge was that both Jared and Robin had to stay up during odd hours for classes and pitching sessions due to time differences, since the events were happening in Switzerland’s time zone.  

Luckily for them, the Finology team is able to manage day-to-day operations on their own just fine, which gave them time to work on this competition.

Because Robin handles investor relations, Jared took on the role of representing Finology in Seedstars and sharing the progress of their business each round. 

Out to raise a round after this win

Seedstars alumni are entitled to common accelerator perks like mentorship, access to Seedstars Academy materials, and even a big likelihood of an investment from their VC vehicle, with terms and conditions, of course. 

“We’ll be out to raise a round fresh off this win for sure. That will help us to introduce more financial products and services to the market that have been designed around a seamless delivery experience,” Jared told Vulcan Post. 

They’re hoping that their victory will draw more attention and attract support from budding startups like theirs in Malaysia, and more foreign direct investments (FDIs) for the nation. 

“Hopefully, this can help address the outflow of good companies looking to re-base outside of Malaysia out of necessity.”

Jared Lim, co-founder of Finology
  • You can learn more about Finology here.
  • You can learn more about Seedstars here.

Featured Image Credit: Robin Ang and Jared Lim, co-founders of Finology

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