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Success Story – P2P Loan To Manufacturer

This article first appeared Lets Crowd Smarter, a digital publication about crowdfunding and investing in Singapore and Asia.

Not all crowdfunding schemes are fraudulent. We (the Let’s Crowd Smarter Team) have invested in over 50 crowdfunding schemes across different platforms and our overall experience has been great.

Yes, there are a few problem loans whose repayments are always late. And we’re lucky not to have encountered any outright default yet. But we have seen more successes than failures.

We believe that as long as investors stick to the more established crowdfunding platforms (such as Funding Societies, MoolahSense, Capital-Match, Crowdo and New Union) and have a widely diversified portfolio, the overall returns should be positive.

As an example, our p2p loan portfolio is earning a cash return of about 1.5% per month, or about 12% so far this year.

Read Also: Spotting Red Flags in Crowdfunding Schemes

Crowdfunding Success – A Real Story

Here, we’ll share with you a crowdfunding success story – a p2p loan that we participated with Funding Societies in December last year. The effective interest rate was a cool 23.6% per annum. (We also have similar successes with other platforms and will share them next time.)

The loan ID is SB-1512005 but we’ll respect the borrower’s confidentiality and not disclose its identity. Below are some of the key features of the loan.

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To summarize, this company is borrowing $100k as working capital for a $780k project. It promised to repay over 6 months. Effective interest earned by the lender is 23.6% per annum. As this is a 6-month loan, the actual  interest earned is roughly half of that.

Funding Societies provided further financial information and comments on the borrower. We did a quick review and find the risk to be acceptable. Hence, we decided to lend $1,000 on this loan in December last year.

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Prompt Repayment

Over the next 6 months, this borrower repaid promptly every month. The final repayment was in June 2016. On this loan, we earned the 23.6% effective interest rate per annum – exactly as promised.

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Verifying Our Return On Investment

Now let’s verify that we are indeed earning 23.6% effective interest per annum.

But before we do that, we’ll need to explain the difference between effective and simple interest rates.

Effective interest rate refers to the interest earned on the outstanding loan. When the borrower repays its loan every month, the outstanding loan balance declines. The interest earned by this declining loan balance is known as the effective interest.

On the other hand, simple interest is basically the total interest earned by the loan as a percentage of the initial loan amount. It does not take into account the declining loan principal or the repayment every month.

We prefer to use effective interest rate. Using Excel’s IRR function as shown below, we easily show that the effective return is indeed 23.6% per annum.

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Is it really so easy?

If crowdfunding is so easy, why are there still plenty of negative news about defaults and frauds?

In our view, most of these platforms that ran into trouble are poorly managed. Many are fly-by-night operators that nobody has heard of. Their loan underwriting process is not credible at all. For the recent First Asia Alliance case, there were so many red flags, including the fact that the director of the crowdfunding platform is also the shareholder of the investee companies.

But there are also well-managed crowdfunding platforms that already have or in the process of getting CMS licenses from MAS. This includes Funding Societies, Capital Match, MoolahSense, New Union and Crowdo.

We (at Let’s Crowd Smarter) are comfortable with and have invested our own money with this second group of crowdfunding platforms. Overall, our investing experiences have been great. Of course, we do have some problem loans and late repayments, but these usually form less than 10% of our total portfolio. Success stories still far outnumber the failures we had.

If investors choose the correct platforms, investing into crowdfunding schemes can generate attractive returns without too much risk as shown in this example.

Read Also: Traits Of A Successful Trader

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. Funding Societies is Singapore’s leading peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform. They provide working capital loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), along with attractive investment opportunities to the broader public. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

5 Steps to Digitise Your Business in a Tech-Savvy World

Today’s technology grows at such breakneck speed. Compare the gadgets and online tools you are using today to ten, or even five, years ago. Technology is inseparable from daily life. Take online shopping. These days, many people prefer it to brick-and-mortar shops.

Business owners must adapt to the new digital age to stay afloat and thrive. Everyone needs to digitise their businesses. How to do so? Here are 5 steps:

Set a goal

Never build anything unless there is a set goal. Why do you want to digitize your business? What are your goals? Do you want to gain more sales? Do you want to create awareness for your business? Setting goals will help you decide which digital strategy you need to utilize.

Create your own sites

Invest your capital in creating your own business website. Make the address as simple as possible, preferably using your brand name as the web address. Prioritise design. Don’t hesitate to hire a web designer if you can’t do it yourself. Your company website is your business face. People will assess how professional your business is based on your site interface.

It doesn’t stop with design. You also need clear and useful content on your business website. Make sure that your content is related to your target market. You will gain more leads if you have high-quality content aimed to your target market.

Read Also: 5 Tips to Create & Manage the Best Business Website on a Budget

Use the power of social media

Now that you have your own website, you need to spread the word. This is where social media will help you in the most effective way. Create a Facebook page, an Instagram account, a Twitter account, even a LinkedIn page – utilise as many social media platforms as long as the platform is still within your niche and your company has the capability to maintain these accounts.

Invest in advertising. You can also broadcast your website’s high-quality content via social media accounts for branding.

Create a mailing list

Creating a mailing list will help you to keep in touch with customers. Hold promotions and discounts to attract more people into subscribing. You can also use referral campaigns to gain more subscribers from loyal customers.

Arrange your projects online

If possible, start digitising manual processes. By making your company more digital, you can cut down on inefficiencies and evaluate the overall workflow. Schedule periodic reviews to continue streamlining and evaluating your operations to keep your processes up to date.

Digitising your business is easier than you think. And the benefits are many. Adapting to digital technology will lessen the possibility of human errors and develop more efficient business processes. In the long run, digitising your business saves both time and money.

Read Also: Grow Your Business Without Breaking The Bank

This article was written by Funding Societies, Singapore’s leading peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform. They provide working capital loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), along with attractive investment opportunities to the broader public. 

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

4 Things About Your Personal Finance To Handle Before Thinking Of Starting Your Own Business

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a trip down to Silicon Valley earlier this month to visit some of the top start-ups in recent years. During his trip, he met some of the top entrepreneurs in the world over including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla & Space X CEO Elon Musk.

Starting your own business is not easy, especially if you are not born with a silver spoon. Aside from needing a top notch idea, a great team for execution, the perfect timing, the right investors and a nice dose of luck, you also need to get your own personal finance in order…first. Failure to do so would cause unnecessary stress to an already stressful career.

Before you think of taking the plunge to be your own boss, here are some personal finance matters that you should consider first.

Read Also: 5 Signs You Are Ready To Change Your Job

1. Can You Embrace A Simple Lifestyle?

When you run your own business, a large part of the effort you put in is to grow the business for tomorrow. Start-ups or new businesses do NOT work for today. They work for tomorrow, while balancing today’s need.

When you hustle, you hustle for tomorrow.

This has two main implications.

The first implication is that if (and that’s a big “if”) the business succeeds, you get to enjoy the long-term value that it brings to you, its shareholders. That could be in the form of passive income to shareholders or a big exit through an eventual sale of the business.

The second implication is that you are not going to be paid well (if any) for running this business of yours today. And that “today” can easily last 4 to 5 years.

Forget about flashing your CEO namecard at clubs or buying expensive bottle of drinks for your entourage, you wouldn’t be able to afford it. Those restaurant meals that your friends are enjoying may also be out of the question.

Rather, homecooked dinners followed by cheap coffee are likely to be the norm. So would squeezing onto the train to get to work each morning.

Billionaire Elon Musk once lived on about $1 per day in his college days. The reason for him doing so was to test himself if he really had what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and be able to survive under extreme circumstances. Elon Musk rational was that if he could survive on $30 per month on food, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to earn and survive on that amount as an entrepreneur.

He could. Can you?

2. Are You Able To Endure Being Underpaid?

Businesses take time to grow. If you are creating a start-up (i.e a business that nobody has done successfully), you will need even more time to grow it.

People who work regular jobs expect to be paid salaries that commiserate with their average output. When we are worth $3,000 per month as a fresh graduate, we expect to be paid that amount. When our skills and experiences increase, we expect to be paid more.

When you are working on your own business, this logic needs to be thrown out of the window. Even if you are the super employee/boss of the company doing everything from closing business deals, delivering great products and services to your clients and being a one-man accounting team, you might still be paid $2,000 per month – for doing a great job.

You might be working harder and smarter than all of your peers and still be earning the least amount of money among everyone whom you know, at least for the first few years.

Can you handle that?

3. Can Your Family Cope Financially With Your Decision?

Most of us have financial commitments in life. Some of these commitments are long-term, such as paying for the home mortgage and taking care of the needs of our children and elderly parents.

Like it or not, financial commitment to our family is one thing that we cannot get ourselves out from. You might be able to live a simple life, but your family would need to be able to cope and live with that decision you are making.

The hard and unfair truth is that not all of us are born into family that can manage the stress of financial uncertainty.

4. Do You Have A Strong Savings Plan?

Even if your business eventually turns out to be sustainable in the long run, personal cashflow challenge is one aspect that you cannot ignore.

Most businesses have cashflow challenges. Account receivable is one area that finance managers are always keeping a lookout of because poor management of your cashflow can potentially sink an otherwise profitable business.

From an individual standpoint, there might be days where you might need to allow your business to owe you unpaid salary in order to stay afloat. Your personal savings will have to step in for these challenging days in order for you to tide over short-term cashflow difficulty.

Read Also: 5 Reasons To Quit Your Job Even If You Have Not Found A New One

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

Life At A Fintech Startup: 5 Interns Share Their Lessons Learned

At Funding Societies this summer, we welcomed a diverse group of interns from various universities in Singapore. To conclude their internship journey at Funding Societies, we had organized a HTHT session consisting of Kelvin Teo, co-founder & CEO and the summer interns of 2017:

  • Sherman Lim, BSc (Economics) and 2nd major in Strategic Management, Singapore Management University (SMU)
  • Clarissa Poedjiono, BSc (Information Systems), SMU
  • Eugene Ng, BBM (Finance), SMU
  • Victor Tan, BSc (Economics & Finance), Singapore Institute of Management – University of London (SIM-UOL)
  • Martin Indrawata, BA (Political Science), National University of Singapore (NUS)

Why intern at a FinTech Startup?

Victor: Like many of my peers, I work at a large company during summer break. However, after reading about Singapore’s startup culture and how the economy is primed for a startup ecosystem, I was certain that I wanted to work for a startup. As a finance student and someone who would use Fintech such as cashless transactions, virtual wallets and crowdfunding, I knew I wanted to learn all about what goes on behind the scenes in a FinTech startup.

Clarissa: As a major in Information Systems, I wanted to join a tech firm. After reading about the FinTech disruption in the banking sector, I realised that perhaps the best learning ground for me would be to join a tech start-up.

Sherman: Having interned at a traditional corporate set-up before, I thought it will be interesting to find out what it will be like to intern at a startup. Of course, I have heard many stories and read case studies in classes that working in a startup will be really hectic and challenging. I also thought this will be a good chance to explore what I wanted to pursue as a career. As to why FinTech, this is the latest trend in the financial sector and is sure to disrupt the business models of traditional financial institutions. I figured, why not join a FinTech startup to learn more about it.

Read More: My Greatest Takeaways From The 12-week Internship At Funding Societies

What was the job seeking and interview process like?

Clarissa: I found out about FS through SMU’s career portal. I found the background of the company and the job description attractive. I went through 2 rounds of Skype interview and 1 assignment submission.

Martin: I met Ishan (Head of Data Science) during a talk at NUS and he shared about the opportunity. The interview process was great as I got to learn more about the team dynamics and leadership of the company (as positively reflected by Xin Ying and Vikas, Head of Business Development and Marketing respectively). What I was heartened about was that my interviewers asked me on things non-related to the job, which I feel was a positive valuation of me as a potential contributor to the company.

Eugene: I got to learn about Funding Societies through a friend of mine who was going to work at Oliver Wyman, who was in turn told how one of the seniors at Oliver Wyman had left the company to join Funding Societies, a startup. The 2 co-founders are also from Harvard and consulting background. It goes to show the caliber of people who run the company, they hail from some of the best institutions around.

Oddest question during interview?

Sherman: Right at the start of the interview – “Do you have any questions for me?”

Victor: “How would your family describe you?”

Martin: “Why do you think Trump won the elections?”

Eugene: “Don’t you want to spend your holidays travelling instead?” (I did, but I definitely didn’t wanna travel for 4 months straight)

What were your most memorable moments during your internship?

Sherman: Definitely the karaoke session during the company retreat! I had a really enjoyable time with the entire company (including our Malaysian colleagues) unwinding and playing hard after an extended period of crazy and intense work. It was also funny seeing our bosses (Not Kelvin) doing the Macarena & Gangnam Style dance.

Victor: I recall all the nights the team spent together watching Game of Thrones which the company airs weekly. It’s really cool that the team stays back after work for dinner and watch TV together. Fun fact: The company even has a Slack channel dedicated to the discussion of our favorite TV show.

Eugene: The most memorable moments for me were all the small chats and hangouts with the colleagues in the office. They went pretty deep into personal viewpoints and philosophies, and I got a really good feel of the diversity in the office from these chats.

What have you learnt that you can apply in school or life?

Clarissa: As an Information Systems student, I’ve always strived to improve my technical skills and this internship has given me insights on how IT projects  solve real business problems. I got to run a flagship project with Sherman and was given freedom to explore the possibilities of executing the project. I was inspired by the leadership skills of the leaders in FS who were gifted yet very kind and helpful.

Victor: I think my biggest takeaway is the need to start broadening my scope and venture into skills beyond my own field. Especially in a startup, you have to make sure that you have multidisciplinary skills as you might be called upon to do a task that would require a skill set that is different from what you learn in school. For instance, I’ve witnessed how some basic coding skills can really help to accomplish certain tasks more efficiently as well. In a company sharing session, I remember Kelvin sharing about the need to learn as much as possible but also ensuring that you have a unique specialization to set yourself apart from others.

Eugene: Technically I’m already a graduate, so I’d say adaptability. The dynamism and pace in the workplace far exceeds that of school life, especially so in a startup like Funding Societies. It’s great to get used to being able to operate and thrive in such a charged up environment.

Has this internship met your expectations?

Sherman: Honestly this internship has exceeded my expectations. We were given full autonomy to initiate and drive projects in the company with the full support of our mentors and the teams. I even commenced my investment journey here by investing into loans on the platform. I have seen how detailed the SME assessment is and that gives me the confidence to earn handsome returns.

Clarissa: It has exceeded my expectations in every way. I’m thankful for the people I got to work with and the skills that I got from this internship.

Victor: Definitely. I didn’t expect to learn from so many brilliant individuals. (The team consists of alumni from various local universities and from different disciplines, including NUS, SMU and SIM as well as alumni from Ivy-league universities including Harvard, Stanford and LSE. I had the opportunity to learn vastly different skill sets from the best and the brightest people.

Martin: Exceeded expectations. The amount of smart and driven people crowded into a 15m by 10m room (old office at Raffles Place), plus my wonderful mentor (Xin Ying) made my 7 weeks there an amazing one.

Kelvin: Yes, FS would be a full step slower, if not for our interns. It’s amazing what one can achieve, if you put a little faith in them. All our interns in the previous batch has joined us full-time. We’d be delighted to have our star interns onboard too before or after their graduation, including Eugene even if he’s joined the ‘dark side’.

Read More: This New App Can Help You Kick Start Your Investment Journey

Weirdest thing you’ve done in FS?

Sherman: Doing the Macarena & Gangnam Style dance with the bosses. It was weird but still fun.

Victor: I literally designed the toilet signs. The Game of Thrones fans in office (probably half the office) was upset that we couldn’t name the meeting room after the locations in Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, so as consolation we named the toilets Hodor for ladies and Mordor for men.

Martin: I used Kelvin’s nerf gun (Sorry Kelvin) and had a nerf battle with some of the team members after work!

Advice for future interns?

Sherman: Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can during your internship. Always be ready to learn and accept challenges even if you think you do not have the skills required. The FS team is always ready to guide and support you along the way.

Martin: Come in with an open mind. Be prepared to accelerate your learning, because the learning curve will be steep. Talk to everyone, especially someone from a function you don’t know much about. Ask, ask, ask; but also ask the right questions – questions you cannot find the answers for in Google. If your reaction to topics like UI/UX or Software Engineering is “eeeh, so difficult”, then FS is not the place.

Eugene: Don’t be choosy about what you do, there’s no place for picking and choosing in a startup. Nobody can silo themselves off as just “Business Development” or “Tech”, everybody has to synergize with each other in order for the company to thrive. If this means doing something outside of your own job scope or your initial expectations, just embrace it! It’s another chance to learn.

Kelvin: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the others in speech, in conduct, in values, in faith and in conscience.”

This article was first posted on the blog of Funding Societies (Singapore). Click here for the original article.

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

My Greatest Takeaways From the 12-week Internship at Funding Societies

Everyone dreams of finding a job they love. Like many other undergraduates, I spent several summer breaks in various internships, letting each experience guide me in discovery of my passion. This phase of gaining work experience helped me develop particular interests in two areas – Enterprise development and Financial Services. That was why I was exhilarated when I came across Funding Societies’ internship advertisement through NUS career centre newsletter. It was described as aFinTech platform which aims to help SMEs grow through Peer-to-Peer (P2P) crowdlending.

At that moment, I had no idea what P2P meant, or what exactly ‘FinTech’ was all about. However, I was intrigued enough to want to delve deeper.

My encounter with Funding Societies has been extraordinary from the very beginning. The interviewer and I had an equal share of time to introduce ourselves. Unlike other interviews where candidates are selected by the hiring manager unilaterally, the balanced two-way communication gave me opportunities to discern whether we would be great fit for each other.

I learned that I was being offered to join Funding Societies as the first ever intern! The past 3 months with Funding Societies have been full of magical moments and learning experiences. Here are some of my greatest takeaways

  1. All initiatives are encouraged, even the crazy ones

At Funding Societies, I am given as much autonomy as everyone else in the company although I am ‘just’ an intern. I am constantly encouraged to input my opinions, feedback and suggestions. While discussing about improving productivity, someone casually proposed moving our weekly sharing sessions from Monday morning to Friday just because – Monday Blues, and it actually happened! Such open culture allows me to become more and more comfortable in speaking up. I find this an enjoyable process because even the most ridiculous-sounding ideas are taken seriously and discussed thoroughly before deciding whether to be implemented (Stay tuned to learn more as we roll these out!). Having the power of choosing what I want to work on also means work is never boring!

  1. Challenge yourself constantly

I got to be part of the competitive and fast-paced start-up scene. New competition emerges every other day and the only way to thrive is to move faster than anyone else. Allocating the limited resources with most efficiency is critical. Freedom and autonomy come with a strong dose of responsibility, and this period has been a test of my discipline in time management. I am constantly challenged to reach my maximum potential. I have always believed that a fulfilling career isn’t a destination but a journey. Hence, it’s important to grow together with the company, and Funding Societies is giving me this remarkable experience.

  1. Your work matters – a lot

At Funding Societies, any work done on each day serves an immediate purpose. I was involved in meaningful projects that are crucial to the company and saw it through from planning to implementation. No words can describe the sense of pride and achievement of seeing my work published on the website for the first time. I enjoy interacting with our clients through our chat feature on the website because I know our conversations have a direct impact on their actions, and often results in Funding Societies gaining new borrowers or investors. I am inspired to take ownership of my work and continuously strive towards providing the best experience to all Funding Societies’ clients.

  1. Supportive team makes all the difference between good and great

Being surrounded by people who share the same goal and passion really brings about an amplified effect in productivity. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that all my colleagues, including the founders, would be willing to find time to respond to my queries no matter how busy they were. I was able to receive quick advice and feedback from managers with ample experiences and they have been of great help to me in getting my job done. If I am ever asked what I love most about Funding Societies, I will not hesitate in answering – ‘complete absence of office politics!’ I appreciate having the well-bonded team where difference of opinion can be resolved through a healthy discussion because I have seen in my previous workplaces how detrimental office politics are to work productivity and motivation. Here at FS, we are aligned in many ways to achieve progress and help one another grow.

  1. Earn solid returns on my investment

‘Skin-in-the-game’ philosophy is widely practiced at Funding Societies. This resonates with my personal beliefs the most. I know what I am working on has a positive impact on society and I am proud to be part of the solution. As such, I have started investing in our platform alongside other investors. I have been enjoying good returns so far and an exciting experience because I know that it means the funded SME is growing well enough to repay as well as investors’ money is deployed into efforts that not only result in stable returns, but make a difference in Singapore’s economy as well.

All in all, interning at Funding Societies for the past 12 weeks has been stimulating and satisfying, and the steep learning curve has enabled me to grow significantly as a motivated individual.

Shin Yiseul
NUS Year 4
Economics Major