The 6 main sources of funding for your startup in Singapore

5 minute read

 

Financing programmes, tax incentives, cash grants, business-incubating infrastructure, and the likes—everything that a startup needs, Singapore has it. In fact, the government of The Lion City continues to roll out various initiatives that help foster a thriving startup landscape in the country.

 

Overview:

 

Asian Silicon Valley in the making?

The robust tech ecosystem in Southeast Asia has given founders more options on where to establish their startups. With cross-border funding made even easier, businesses are no longer restricted to cities where major venture capital firms are headquartered. More and more countries in Southeast Asia including Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia have developed stronger foundations for tech talents over the years.

That said, Singapore has consistently remained a reputable financial and regional trading centre in the last four decades and is considered one of the world’s leading innovation hubs. It has also established itself at the top of World Bank’s ranking of the easiest places to do business for the last two decades. Thus, there’s no to surprise to having a continuously growing rate of startups in the country.

 

Funding options for startups, anyone?

Out of the large number of small businesses in Singapore that fail to launch year after year, almost half of these founders cite the lack of working capital or funding as the primary reason for their failure. Obviously, this financial disability limits companies and founders to realise their business plans, run their business operations, or expand operations to other markets.

In this guide we’ve put together a comprehensive list of funding options for startups looking to raise capital to get their business off the ground and running:

Bootstrapping

Self-funding or bootstrapping the startup is the first and most obvious funding option founders have when outlining their business plan on its early stages. This is particularly helpful for entrepreneurs who are only starting out and finding it difficult to get funding from external sources for their lack of a plan or proof to show potential success.

Most founders who opt to take this path to fund their startups use their savings or get family and some friends to contribute. Bootstrapping is ideal for many founders as it requires less formalities and compliance as well as the minimal costs needed for the process.

(Hungry for more? Read our guide on bootstrapping your business.)

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an innovative system of financing a business venture or a project, which simply requires collecting modest contributions from a large group of people. In the United States, this fundraising method is a well-known platform where several small business owners contribute and pitch business ideas, plans, strategies online with the intent of inspiring others to help and pledge money in support of the business venture.

Popular crowd-funding platforms in Singapore include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Funding Societies, which particularly accommodates small business startups.

Angel investors

The term angel investor is used to refer to private individuals who typically not only invest capital but also contribute their own business skills and expertise in the early phase of startups in exchange for a significant share in the business. Angel investors are usually successful businessmen or wealthy HNWIs who are on the hunt for startup companies with higher risks but hold a viable promise to yield higher ROIs.

Typically, the way you get to an angel investor is through your existing networks, as individuals use the trusted ‘word of mouth’ as a filter for deals that may be of interest to them.

Venture Capitalists

Singapore has a relatively new and small venture capital industry compared to Europe and the United States. High net worth personalities, large corporations, and government bodies choose to set up venture capital funds due to the appealing tax incentives and other business-friendly policies that the government has outlined for the process.

Venture capitalists are essentially professional investors who specialize in investing in startups with the condition that they are given a more hands-on role in the business whose primary goal is to ensure their own clients’ profitability.

As such, they do not only necessarily offer funding support to the startup but also advice on operational matters and in most cases how to increase your business profitability. This group of investors favor startups that hold high growth potentials such as those involved in intellectual property creation, scientific breakthroughs, and other large-impact businesses in nanotechnology, IT, and biotechnology.

Looking for a list of VCs in Singapore? Tech in Asia has an article on venture capital firms that is a great starting point.

Incubators and Accelerators

While used interchangeably, the terms incubators and accelerators have a few fundamental differences.  While an incubator is a funding system that works with businesses that are already in their initial stage of their developing process and are aimed at getting the business of the ground, an accelerator helps those who are ready to get the business running or take that giant leap such as branching the business out to an overseas location or venturing into a different market or industry.

While you don’t have to follow a set schedule when dealing with incubators, businesses on accelerator funding will have to work closely with the investors, mentors, and other fellow startups for several months before they are able to graduate from the platform.

Government Funding

The Singapore government has put in place a significant number of financing schemes and platforms to facilitate its efforts to encourage entrepreneurial activity in the country. Each of these government funding schemes focuses on different markets or industries and is practicable for the various stages in a business’s growth.

Want to know more? Take a look at our guide on government funding and grants for entrepreneurs.

 

Preparing your startup for fundraising

If you are looking to get your business off the ground and grow really fast, you will most likely need external sources of capital, unless you are confidently capable of funding those yourself.

While bootstrapping your startup is always a viable option, it’s not going to bring you as far as you would want your business to go, not to mention the idea that it will actually deprive you of taking advantage of the vast funding opportunities that the Singapore market holds.

There’s a lot of money out there for the taking – but make sure you do your research on what fits you, what you will spend your money on, and get your pitch deck tight.

 

Next steps

Want to know more? We’re always adding to this page and others so that you keep up to date on the latest in the Singapore startup scene. Talk to our sales team to get started!

Other articles that might interest you

Related content

Get in touch.

Start your Sleek journey today

Ready to grow your business to the next level?
Let us help take the load off your shoulders so you can continue doing what you love.

50GB data with unlimited talktime for only S$18/month and additional add-ons!

Circles.Life is a telco provider in Singapore that provides no-contract mobile plans. Their end-to-end integrated service allows customers to manage and design a plan that best fits their needs.

Enjoy the following offers:

  • 50GB data with unlimited talktime (SIM-only) for S$18/month

Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Get access to investors, corporates and business advisors

TiE Singapore is a vibrant eco-system of Asian entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and industry professionals – TiE has 61 worldwide chapters, 10,000 Startups, 80,000 Attendees and 15,000 members.

Benefits:

  • Exclusive access to an ecosystem of advisors, mentors, investors, corporate heads via discounted programs
  • Expand your reach beyond Singapore by attending all local and global events
  • A chance to showcase and pitch your ideas to industry leaders and investors
  • Network and build connections to engage with business experts, thought leaders and fellow entrepreneurs

Form your US company with Stripe Atlas

Stripe Atlas is a safe and easy-to-use platform for forming a US entity by removing obstacles that are typically associated with starting a company such as – legal paperwork, bank lines, obscure fees and regulatory barriers.

Enjoy the following benefits:

  • Get a discount from SGD $200 onwards on an Atlas incorporation
  • Use their services from anywhere in the world
  • An opportunity to connect with other founders and learn from experts

Enjoy up to SGD $1,425 off on eBay store and promotion fees that are incurred in the first quarter of your operation

eBay is a world-leading online marketplace that facilitates consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales.

Sleek clients can benefit from a special promotion when they:

  • Sign up as new sellers on eBay
  • Offer a minimum of 100 SKUs in their online store

You will be eligible for:

  • 100% reimbursement of the store and promoted listing fees for up to 3 months, capped at SGD $1,425, subject to promotion T&Cs

How do you qualify?

  • Leave your contact details in eBay’s New Seller Form
  • eBay’s New Seller Account Management team will review your application and reach out to guide you on the account setup
  • Once approved you will receive a promotional email from your Account Manager

Enjoy your stay with Hmlet by getting corporate rates

Hmlet provides a custom designed, fully furnished, affordable and hassle-free coliving housing solution, perfect for entrepreneurs arriving in Singapore.

Enjoy the following benefits:

Get 10% when you stay with Hmlet in Singapore
Perfect opportunity to expand your network with Hmlet’s diverse community
Enjoy dedicated assistance from Hmlet Community Managers
Flexible month-to-month membership plans

*For new members only

Promotion is valid for any length of stay up to one year.

Contact Joanna at +65 8462 6446 to get the discount.

Gain instant access to the top coworking spaces around Singapore with FlySpaces Passport


FlySpaces provides short-term flexible workspace solutions, fully-furnished and fully-serviced, for entrepreneurs, SME’s, and corporates setting up their businesses in Southeast Asia.

Enjoy the following benefits:

  • 1 month free trial of Passport Starter package and 25% off the first month of any Passport package
  • Flexible packages that scale with your business
  • Dedicated assistance from a FlySpaces Space Expert

*For new members only 

Get 3 months free trial

Metigy is the world’s leading Digital Marketing Decision Support technology made for SME Marketers. Metigy’s AI platform helps SME’s achieve 2x-3x improvement quarter on quarter.

  • AI-powered real-time insights and recommendations platform
  • Set objectives and follow Metigy’s content recommendations
  • Planning calendar, content library and social analytics
  • Prioritised to-do list and approval workflows

Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Join Hubspot for Startups and get up to 90% off your Hubspot subscription in your first year

We’re excited to partner with HubSpot for Startups to offer their program designed specifically to help startups grow and scale better, and faster – at a startup-friendly cost! Read on to learn more about the program.

What is the HubSpot for Startups program?

  • Education resources and tailored training
  • Professional software, startup pricing
  • Integrated platform for startups

Who is eligible?

Any startup that is a current customer of Sleek and meets certain funding criteria is eligible for this exclusive program! See below for more details:

  • A startup with under $2 million in funding: ou are eligible for up to 90% off HubSpot software in your first year, 50% off in your second, and 25% off ongoing.
  • A startup who has raised over $2 million in named funding up to and including Series A: You are eligible for up to 50% off in your first year, and 25% off ongoing.

*The HSFS startup-friendly pricing is only applicable to net-new HubSpot Hubs or upgrades of existing Starter subscriptions to Basic, Professional, or Enterprise products; customers may not apply the startup program pricing to existing Basic, Professional, or Enterprise Hubs.

Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Get 10% discount on Google Workspace licenses

Google Workspace offers custom email for your domain, online storage, shared calendars and a range of collaboration tools to increase the productivity of your team.

  • Gmail for business
  • Gsheets, Gdocs, Gslides and Google Meet
  • High security and online file storage

A 10% discount is provided for all new domains and transfers.

Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Get US$5,000 in AWS Promotional Credits

*Only available for technology startups

Amazon Web Services provides startups with low-cost, easy-to-use infrastructure needed to scale and grow any size business.

You will be eligible for:

  • US$5,000 in AWS Promotional Credits valid for 2 years
  • 1 year of AWS Business Support (up to US$1,500)
  • Opportunities to qualify for additional credits 
 
Note: Companies may not be eligible for AWS Activate Credits if they previously received a similar or greater amount of credit. Companies may be eligible to be “topped up” to a higher credit amount if they previously received a lower credit.  For more information, please review the AWS Activate Terms & Conditions.
 
Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Manage your company spending with a 3-month free trial

Spenmo is a B2B spend-management platform with physical and virtual card offerings. We aim to digitise expense processes and help companies eliminate fraud and overspending.

Enjoy the following benefits:

  • Free physical and virtual cards for up to 15 employees and 2% unlimited cashback for the first 6 months
  • $100K worth of free local and international invoice payments
  • Free cash reimbursement software

Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Get S$10,000 in processing volume credit

Stripe is the best software platform for running an internet business. Stripe provides the technical, fraud prevention, and banking infrastructure required to operate online payment systems.

  • Fast, reliable and secure
  • Faster eligibility period for custom processing rates
  • Priority betas and special event access

Once you are a Sleek client, you can access this offer.

Free multi-currency account for businesses and online sellers

WorldFirst is an innovative global payment platform, helping businesses move money around the world faster, easier, safer and cheaper. 

Sleek clients can enjoy the following:

  • Open up to 10 international currency accounts for free: SGD, USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, NZD, JPY, HKD & CNH
  • Receive, hold and make payments in international currencies
  • Open your account for free with no monthly account fees and no annual transfer limits
  • Access great exchange rates
  • Manage your global finances all on one platform
  • Instant FX transactions between currency accounts

Do note that WorldFirst only works with online sellers.

Open a Singapore dollar business account from anywhere.

Wise is a global technology company that’s building the best way to move money around the world. Whether you’re sending money to another country, spending money abroad, or making and receiving international business payments, Wise is on a mission to make your life easier and save you money.

Enjoy the following benefits:

  • Enjoy S$2,600 fee-free transaction
  • Get bank details in 6 currencies: SGD, GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, NZD
  • Sleek customers get access to the Wise Platinum debit Mastercard
  • Get support from our global team in Singapore, Europe, and the US