After a short flirtation with Librarianship working at the Singapore National Library – it would be fair to say that most of my professional life was spent building a regional marketing and communications agency headquartered in Singapore. We aligned ourselves to Singapore Inc., delving deep into unglamourous but vital sectors such as logistics, energy, professional and financial services, medical and every aspect of technology.
When someone remarked the other day how I had apparently “reinvented myself” leaping into the world of investments; it was a little surprising because so many aspects of life in Rapzo Capital have great similarities.
First of all, clients came in all shapes and sizes; from 3-4 person dot.com generation startups to MNCs expanding into Asia, as well as local and regional companies looking to leverage the power of communications to grow clients and revenue. A never-routine day was mental calisthenics by necessity leaping from one industry to another; juggling hats and demonstrating the know-how that would build confidence and deliver the desired results. (I am hoping this sustained exercising of my grey-cells will deliver dividends well into the future..!)
Anyway, the takeaways from that world and applied to the world of investment and start-up potential in Rapzo Capital are many. Lots of time was spent researching companies, the market and competition in order to deliver the scripts and speeches that would ultimately lead to growing both market share and profit. We also recognised it was often the “who we knew” that could add a nugget to successfully differentiate a company in a crowded space and we never underestimated the impact of an outstanding spokesperson who was able to inspire even the most cynical to leap on their particular bus.
Likewise we saw truly amazing, innovative companies completely undermined by a lousy spokesperson… only to rise phoenix-like when a new and more articulate leader was appointed. There’s definitely a lesson here for the startup Founder to work on his or her presentation skills!
Today it is still about being able to switch from one sector to another; thinking from a B2C consumer perspective in one meeting and then exploring how an opportunity could impact the enterprise space just shortly afterwards. Research remains key as does the amazing-but-always-underestimated power of voice although one huge difference is that winning “market share” has traded places with “return on investment”. Unlike in the past where competition was usually well defined, today it is more likely to be still nascent or just another will-o-the-wisp idea being incubated somewhere else in the world. Harder to track down but if we have a startup thinking about it here in Singapore, it’s a fair guess that someone else is also doing it somewhere – so let’s be smart and anticipate that “wisp” may erupt at any moment with a dragon’s roar.
So many elements between both worlds run parallel but none more than the power of a great voice able to articulate and win allegiance to a vision while there is no greater threat to success than naïve and immature idealism coming face to face with a jaded market.