Stuart McLelland, Managing Partner of Rapzo Capital, on a site visit for an environmental project with research intern Ivan Tan

Q: Stuart, tell us a little bit about yourself
SM: Originally from Scotland, the family moved to Singapore in the 1980’s making this “home” until I went to Edinburgh University to study Economics. I then joined an MNC in the petrochemical and engineering sector where I worked various roles in financial and strategic planning through to operations.

More recently I have supported several family interests mostly in the property, lifestyle and F&B sectors and as a volunteer I work with the Bone Marrow Donor Programme and the SPCA. I am excited about environmental issues – it’s just one planet and right now it’s under siege – and areas such as eco-tourism and public- education are of interest and so is mental health and resilience.

Q: Tell us about Rapzo Capital?
SM: The idea for Rapzo Capital goes back a couple of years ago and my vision was to extend beyond the property sector and explore new opportunities and technologies. I also wanted to support ideas with a social impact and especially now when the charity sector is shifting from the traditional public or government funded model and we are now seeing a new generation of high impact and very successful programmes built on a social enterprise model.

From an idea, we kicked off in early 2018 and today we are best described as a family-funded investment company.

Q: What kind of investments are you looking to make?
SM: We have been approached by several “Property-Tech” start-ups keen to streamline workflow and improve other operational inefficiencies. We want to have these discussions as our role goes beyond only financial commitment and we have strengths and also connections in this sector to help any potential start-up.

Social impact is another area that excites us and from my own volunteer experience, I strongly support the concept of social enterprise where an organisation operates as a business meeting the needs of less served communities. As our society changes and with the emergence of the “gig economy”, I envisage many more such opportunities in the future but like any other business they require funding and equally importantly, the introductions to help get started.

Q: Is there anything you specifically look for in a potential investment?
SM: Like most VC organisations, any potential investee would be expected to demonstrate their idea as a working model and showcase how it would be delivered to the target audience. Then we would look at all the usual elements such as the track record of the Founder and the core team, the potential market size, any established competition and for Rapzo, we would review the social impact element that it brings to the community.

Q: Can you give examples?
SM: One company we have supported is helping blue-collar workers find jobs by connecting them through an App with potential employers. While there are similar offerings available in the market, we liked this one because the intelligence built into the platform, that matched needs and availability mapped against location and skillsets aims to provide casual workers with sufficient regular work to achieve a living wage. Future plans include providing benefits such as paid leave and medical which fits right into our vision.

Q: Tell us more about the Rapzo team.
SM: Today we have just two of us full time; myself and Jane Prior who was most recently CEO of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme As a volunteer, I liked her strategic thinking as she set the direction for the organisation and at the same time her unique ability to bring this through to execution. Her focus areas are very different to mine, and she is keen to explore ageing and eldercare as well as being a staunch advocate for equality and diversity in the workplace.

Q: Are there any areas which are considered “no-go” and of no interest to Rapzo?
SM: I believe in playing to our strengths and between Jane and myself our experience covers quite a diverse range of sectors but realistically we will focus in the property, professional services and social sectors where we can add value beyond just financial investment. From a personal interests perspective, we are supporting activities in waste management and environmental protection and a start-up mental health app. We would not be keen to invest in any organisations that we see could be detrimental to the social values of the communities where they target to operate and likewise, our support.

Q: Have you identified any social enterprises that you want to incubate or invest in?
SM: Being family funded means that we have flexibility and can choose to go the investment route or alternatively we can opt to incubate or even establish our own operation if that makes more sense. We have already invested in several companies and are actively exploring a number of ideas where we have identified an unmet need and we will look to develop this under the Rapzo
umbrella.