We hosted 25 amazing entrepreneurs at the recent Monk’s Hill Ventures founders’ dinner. Ninja Van CEO Chang Wen Lai spoke with Managing Director Kuo-Yi Lim about his fundraising experience, and the lessons learnt whilst helming Ninja Van to a US$30M Series B.

Think about how much money you really need to raise

“More money comes with more responsibilities. You’ll take away more time and resources from running the business to managing and reporting to a larger number of investors. Whilst this is not ideal, as a founder you also have to think about the hopes and dreams of those people working with you… your employees who have journeyed with you since the beginning will benefit from the certainty of raising more funds. This is a trade-off you have to think about”


Beware of large syndicates with no real leader

“We knew from the beginning that we preferred a smaller syndicate with a lead investor. Managing and reporting to too many investors would shift our focus away from growing the business. At the Series B stage, we’re really looking for a lead who could write cheque sizes of US$10M and above. This thinned down our options substantially and allowed us to focus on the most relevant investors”


Be mindful of macroeconomic conditions when fund raising

“We initially considered raising a smaller Series B round. But we spoke to bankers and other experts in our network, who warned us of the unfavourable economic conditions and the potential tightening of credit and liquidity down the line. Bearing in mind these risks, we made a judgment call to raise a bigger sum earlier”


Understand the characteristics of various investor types

“The investors we met were broadly categorised into 4 types: family offices, family conglomerates, VCs and PE funds. They have different agendas and it’s important to understand the differences between them. VCs, for example, might bring more relevant operational experience on-board than family offices or conglomerates. As for PE funds, they have a different attitude towards risk. Every investment has to work out for them… so they are more demanding when it comes to reporting”

Invest time upfront during the first round to really understand the process
“The first round of raising could seem like an uphill task… there’s so much legal and financial documentation to deal with and so many clauses to learn about. My advice here would be to put some time into really understanding the entire process the first time round. This would keep you prepared and save you more time in future rounds”