Winning startups at she1K’s Season 2 C-shark tank get US$367k in angel funds
By Kiran Kaur Sidhu August 31, 2020
- She1K changes membership structure with minimum US$7.3k commitment
- New approach sees higher intensity learning as there’s money on the table
[Headline & subhead edited for accuracy.]
Founded late 2018, she1K was created to address the gap of corporate women engaging and investing in startups by providing a trusted programme to facilitate learning, syndicating deal flow and all the processing involved. More recently, the network introduced a one-of-a-kind “shark tank” pitch, coined C-shark tank.
Through C-shark Tank, senior executives of large corporates can be a “shark” for a day in their personal capacity, not representing their corporation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, season 2 of C-shark Tank was run fully online. “The programme has been so much more intense since we took it 100% online. It was very well received by all stakeholders including the jury which includes VCs, C-sharks and startups,” said Christina Teo (pic, right), founder and chief builder of she1K.
Back in July 2019, she1K set a target to recruit 1,000 corporate women to become angel investors and invest in 100 startups. As of now, Christina reveals the network is far from hitting that target and in response has shifted strategy with the goal of drawing stronger commitment from members. Rather than focusing on having a casual group of members, she1K has introduced the C-shark tank which requires an upfront investment commitment starting at a minimum US$7,350 (S$10,000). The structured programme offers members a "crash course" experience of learning to be an angel investor by doing," says Christina. Previously members can opt to be active or passive, but "With C-shark tank, the commitment level is so much higher because there is money on the table upfront. C-sharks however do not know who is coming to pitch until a few days before. It's almost like the reality show The Voice,” she adds.
[Para edited for accuracy. An earlier version was inaccurate in stating she1K had dropped its target of recruiting 1,000 members.]
Touted the world’s first corporate executive angel syndicate with 80% female representation, she1K recently announced its top three startups from Season 2 – artificial intelligence company for cardio-respiratory disease prediction and diagnosis, Respiree; agriculture tech startup converting food waste into plant fertiliser, Re-Nuble; and ocean imaging startup, Open Ocean Camera.
“Key factors most investors value are founders' credibility, sector knowledge and vision. There is also a mix of the gravity of the problem they are solving and how they strategise to solve it. Validation and traction also makes a difference to our evaluation,” explains Christina on why these three startups stood out.
The three winners will tap into an investment pool of 32 executives who participated as C-sharks. Consistent with Season 1 and she1K’s goal of empowering women angel investors, the ratio of female executives is kept at 70%.
How the programme works
The multi-stage programme is open only to the jury and C-sharks. “At every stage, it's private. This is the big difference and it's unique globally. There is no such programme anywhere close in the world - not even the original shark tank,” she claims.
The final ten startups for the C-shark stage are shortlisted by the jury. Only C-sharks who are corporate executives with more than 15 years experience from multinational corporations and have committed cash upfront can be present at the C-shark stage without knowing which startups are pitching. They then have the option to top up within a week after the final three are selected. 60% of C-sharks topped up, resulting in a pool of close to half a million dollars to fund the winning startups in Season 2.
“This makes the programme so intense because it is not a show, it's very personal, interactive, engaging and with lots of peer learning,” she notes. The question and answer session is carried it out live and not via chat or delayed response.
As for the selection criteria, she1K looks for startups in operation for less than five years, have raised less than US$2 million and have a team of three and above with a demonstrable product, solution or platform. “So far 70% of our finalists have been revenue generating and 30% pre-revenue, from diverse sectors including fintech, edutech, femtech, medtech, logistics, agtech.”
Adapting to COVID-19 constraints, the programme not only went 100% online via zoom, it was extended to cater to three time zones – Asia, Europe and North America. “But we realise now that online allows us to do shorter cycles because startups do not need to fly into a country and they appreciate that because they need to close their funding within a certain duration.”
Christina explained: “The moment we decided we will go online, we fixed the cycles as well. So it will be three months including scouting followed by one month of legal work and funds disbursement and set up of advisory for each portfolio company. We realise that online may have its challenges but it has in fact enhanced the intensity and interactivity. Our online events are the most interactive. I have yet to see any major events adopt our method.”
Additionally, Top 10 startups get coached on their business proposition, model and scalability with deep dive sessions. An evaluation report is compiled about each of the top 10 as material for C-sharks to study before their sessions. “Some of the C-sharks have already committed to funding the fourth startup. We have also opened doors to corporates to at least three startups and are helping two more startups to fund raise on the side.”
With cycles compressed, since startups do not need to fly in person to Singapore, C-shark tank will be staged every four months. Season 3 has commenced recruiting on a rolling basis mid-August. The jury day is slated for October 21 with C-shark days on Nov 17 and 19. Early stage startups can apply from practically anywhere by submitting a 5 minute video pitch here.
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