SEA startup advisory BBI picks Singapore as strategic base
4 minute read
What do you do when you have a background in corporate law, the United Nations, and startups? You mix it all together and start your own consulting company helping founders in developing countries get capital to launch their big ideas off the ground.
The long way around
“I work to connect the East to the West and the West to the East”, says BBI founder Rosalia Gita. “Helping Silicon Valley funds source deal flow within Asia and helping founders in these developing nations get access to capital flows.”
It was a long road that started in corporate law (“the best thing is that you work with some really smart people – the worst thing is that all those smarts are only accessible to those who can afford it”), and took her to the UN (“it was great when you were on the ground, doing the meaningful day-to-day work … but the higher up you got, the more removed you were from that”).
Working in the tech ecosystem was years in the making, but once she was in, Rosalia was hooked.
“While I was at the UN I was introduced to the Beirut startup ecosystem”, Rosalia recalls. “We helped run hackathons – and I saw people thinking, what can we do about the Syria crisis in Lebanon, and how can we use technology to find a solution? I liked what I saw – I liked that people were rolling up their sleeves and getting into it.”
Now based in Asia, she’s carving out a niche helping founders around SEA transcend their geographic limitations and limited (though nascent) startup ecosystems.
“People in Silicon Valley have said to me, ‘I can’t work with anyone in SEA because they can’t make a website that makes sense’. Founders are sending me decks that – knowing what I know on the VC side – wouldn’t even get opened, wouldn’t get them to a phone call.”
It’s not a lack of smarts on the founders’ part, just unfamiliarity with how things are done on the other side. “There’s a translation issue and a connection issue – there’s a ton of money but no one knows how to access it and there is a ton of talent and no one there knows how to access it”
“I’ve set up in Delaware and Hong Kong previously but I had my sights set on Asia this time for my entity, given that I wanted to help founders based in SEA – so I was choosing between Singapore and Hong Kong”, says Rosalia.
“While I was working for a larger corporate in the past who wanted to start in Singapore, we worked with a corporate finance company that was charging us upwards of $60,000. I knew I couldn’t go that away again when it was time to set up my own company – so I googled around, and I found Sleek.”
“It looked like it had a really good interface and looked user-friendly”, she said. “I thought – why not try it?”
What she likes about Sleek
Not being as familiar with the Singapore regulatory scene meant that convenience was important to Rosalia “My experience of Sleek is super positive. It’s a one-stop shop for setting up a company in Singapore, and everyone is really responsive. Sleek is exactly the type of company I want to work with.”
“I also really liked that the pricing was clear. I had spoken to three other accounting firms while I was searching for my company secretary provider and the conversations with them were really nebulous – they wouldn’t commit easily to a price. Sleek in comparison was super easy to use and transparent.”
What’s next for BBI
“The contribution I want to make is – I want to open up capital flows, and help founders get the funding they deserve”, says Rosalia.
“Founders – especially female founders – can doubt their value, both in a personal sense and in a literal company valuation sense. Raising funds is all about showing strength and confidence – I want to help founders get there.”
With connections in the Singapore, Hong Kong and Silicon Valley VC and angel investing network, Rosalia is keen to get promising SEA founders a seat at the table. “Each hub has very specific things they’re interested in – but sometimes that’s not clear from the outside. I want to help bridge the divide and increase the information flow both ways.”