FNF Alumni
Navigating a Prolonged Funding Winter: Strategies for Startups

FNF Alumni Event
Speaker picture

 From left to right: Gagan Singh, Samantha Kapunan, and Tharin Sethi 

Entrepreneurship is often characterized by its dynamic nature, marked by both opportunities and challenges. One crucial aspect that can make or break a venture's success is securing funding. Recognizing this, a remarkable event titled 'Spend an Evening with Gagan Singh, Tharin Sethi, and Samantha Kapunan: Navigating the Winter Funding Period' took place on August 24, 2022. This event, held as part of the ABCs of Entrepreneurship series, was a collaborative effort between the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Southeast and East Asia, WOWSGlobal, and The Great Room.

Intriguingly, the event coincided with a revealing report by DealStreetAsia indicating a 56% decline in funding for Southeast Asian start-ups during the first half of 2023. This funding winter has prompted a collective question: How can start-ups weather the storm and secure the capital they need to continue building and growing their businesses? Furthermore, in a scenario where traditional sources of funding seem constrained, what alternative financing options should start-ups consider?


Spend the night with Tharin Sethi, Gagan Singh, and Samantha Kapunan

Our distinguished line-up of speakers featured Samantha Kapunan, the visionary behind Satori Lifestyle and Wellness, which specializes in mental training and holistic well-being. Beyond her impressive portfolio, she stands as a Zen teacher, channelling her expertise into the sphere of mindfulness. Her influence extends even further as the Co-founder of the Philippines' pioneering real-time online bus booking service IWantSeats. During the event, Samantha lent her expertise as a seasoned facilitator, skilfully guiding our discussions to new heights.

Gagan Singh is the visionary Founder and CEO of WOWS Global, an avant-garde enterprise committed to crafting a digital investment bank tailored for start-ups. At the heart of WOWS Global's mission lies the facilitation of primary and secondary placements, ushering in a new era of funding dynamics for emerging ventures. Gagan delved into the intricacies of the funding slowdown, dissecting the various macroeconomic factors influencing the venture capital space. He elucidated that venture capitalists do not operate in isolation but are influenced by broader market trends. He shared critical data points, indicating a decline in global growth and rising borrowing costs. Gagan also shed light on the ripple effects of low IPO activity, contributing to a 56% decline in VC funding across the region. However, he concluded on a positive note by highlighting the resilience of early-stage deals despite these challenges.

Tharin Sethi, a Founding Partner at WOWS Global and an Investor, delved into the intricate differentiators that set venture capital funding apart from traditional capital sources. With precision and clarity, Tharin underscored the point that venture capital is not a one-size-fits-all solution and expounded on the significance of harmonizing with venture-backable concepts. Through his enlightening insights, he revealed the multifaceted criteria that venture capitalists weigh when evaluating investment prospects, transcending mere financial metrics.


Our aspiring entrepreneurs at The Great Room, Bangkok, Thailand

Gagan Singh and Tharin Sethi then engaged in a thought-provoking discussion on the age-old startup dilemma: focusing on the path to profitability versus prioritizing scalability. They shared personal anecdotes, emphasizing the challenges and considerations associated with these divergent paths. Tharin highlighted that a shift toward profitability could lead to healthier startups, ultimately attracting traditional investors seeking stability.

The collaborative effort of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Southeast and East Asia, WOWSGlobal, and The Great Room not only facilitated an exchange of knowledge but also created a networking platform for entrepreneurs to connect and share their experiences. Attendees appreciated the intimate setting, which fostered open discussions and allowed for one-on-one interactions with the speakers.

In conclusion, the event 'Spend an Evening with Gagan Singh, Tharin Sethi, and Samantha Kapunan: Navigating the Winter Funding Period' served as a beacon of guidance for entrepreneurs seeking to navigate the complexities of fundraising during challenging times. The collaboration between FNF, WOWSGlobal, and The Great Room created an invaluable opportunity for knowledge exchange and networking, leaving attendees inspired and equipped with the tools they need to succeed in their entrepreneurial journeys.

Sky Warisala Chatuchinda is the Regional Communications Officer Southeast and East Asia of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.