Interview with Fintechnopreneur: Let’s Talk Lending – Eddie Lee

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3 years after pioneering peer-to-peer lending in Singapore, New Union Pte Ltd – a company that provides alternative funding source for SMEs – crosses the billion dollar mark in funding facilitation. Eddie Lee, co-founder and Group CEO, shares an inspiring entrepreneurship journey in this interview.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I have been an entrepreneur since graduation. When I was 18, I began freelancing as a web developer and incorporated my one-man IT development agency in 2004. I started from home and often got nagged by my mum on why I didn’t go out for work!

With some traction and courage, I proceeded to co-rent a small office with another friend to defray the cost. Throughout the years, i witness how the internet evolved from simple HTML sites to interactive Flash, Web 2.0, Social Media, e-commerce and currently to Mobile and distributed ledger technology.

We adapted to the changing market needs and as a result our business thrived. My IT agency grew from the initial one-man show into a small local team of 18. At our peak, we handled 53 projects concurrently.

I am lucky and grateful to my can-do and never-say-die attitude that has allowed me to persevere and accumulate the necessary ‘on the ground’ skill sets, and as a result, perform well in the business world.

I exited the business with a successful M&A and went on to co-found the current business, New Union, with my partners.

Besides work, martial arts is my lifelong passion and very few people actually know that I was once given an opportunity to represent Singapore in the SEA Games before.

What is your business venture about?

New Union is a debt-based crowdfunding platform that allows Small Medium Enterprises (SME) to upload their loan requests online. Our network of investors will then choose and invest in the projects that they deem viable in fractional amounts until the total sum is raised for the SME.

What is your mission at the outset?

Entrepreneurs will be familiar with this. The journey is often lonely. The problems we face are often unique. For example, when everyone is looking forward to the end of the month for their paycheck, we are often apprehensive. When everyone celebrate festivals, we prefer to celebrate successes. Entrepreneurs need to be all rounded, tackling challenges ranging from administration, HR, Finance and Sales. At times, we might even ask ourselves why we signed up for that.

We appreciate the challenges that the SMEs are going through and having been there myself, my team and I would like to be their enabler. For those thinking of starting up, we would like to encourage them. For those who are thinking of doing better, we would link them with the right connections. For those who need a pat on the back from all the workload, we would bring together a community of like-minded people to tell them that you are not alone. We will grow with them because we are SMEs ourselves.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Previously when I was running the IT development agency, cash flow was a constant area that I had to look after. We had huge account receivables but should the cash flow be mismanaged, the team could be affected. Cash flow is the heartbeat of any company.

When I met the current partners of New Union, they came from the background of finance and we shared the common vision on how coming together will make this concept take off.

I love the idea and the vision that was shared, and they love the innovative ways that I could make it work and so we came together, to ‘Change the World’.

What is unique about your business?

From the team’s perspective, when we came together, it was a real marriage of Finance and Technology, Fin + Tech.

On the business end, we identify like-minded SMEs who need financing and are willing to share details about their company financials and business plans. This allows us to judge where the company risks are, so as to arrive at a suitable crowdfunding proposal for them.

We also match the companies to investors who would be able to review the company background and pertinent details so that they may understand what and how the company intends to use the loan for and how it will ultimately lead to them repaying the loan.

And from the technology end, the investors can now review and invest conveniently via the platform or the mobile app to the deserving SME whom they deem worthy of their funds.

Why will customers stay or do business with you?

SME growth is like a marathon, nothing happens overnight and only time will tell the good, bad and ugly. We encourage our SME customers to treat New Union and its investors as a long term partner. Companies who fall in this category are sometimes featured on our platform to provide industry insights, management experiences and profiling. Our customers stay with us because they like the flexible financing proposals, corporate profiling and the support for their business aspirations.

What have been the biggest obstacles?

During the initial years of the business, the biggest obstacles have to be the acceptance of our business concept and the uncertainty of regulations.

It was a new business concept here in Singapore and getting people to believe us has been difficult. Having to tell the investors that they will get a return that is higher than the market norm while we are not regulated and to explain that there were no specific regulations to govern us made it even worse.

To overcome that, we invested time and resources to arrange educational workshops for the investors so that they understood how investing works.

This uncertainty has also been resolved after the announcement that all securities based crowdfunding platforms are required to obtain the Capital Market Service License on the 9th of June 2016.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

There has been much hype and glam being marketed about being a successful entrepreneur. What is not commonly shared is that success does not come overnight and often requires ten or more years of hard work.

When we decide to start on the entrepreneurial journey, we often end up beaten, worn and sometimes, lost. When that happens, my guiding compass has always been, perseverance.

What’s next for you and for New Union?

With regulations in place, we will prepare the necessary paperwork and will be scaling in full throttle to break the second billion-dollar mark for our SMEs.

For more entrepreneur stories, please check out http://fintechnopreneur.com/

Interview was done by fintechnopreneur.com
Link: http://fintechnopreneur.com/lets-talk-lending-eddie-lee/

 

https://www.newunion.sg/blog/new-union-happenings/interview-with-fintechnopreneur-lets-talk-lending-eddie-lee

Year end message from New Union Group CEO

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Dear readers,

While we anticipate the brand new year eagerly,  New Union Group CEO, Mr Eddie Lee, has prepared a small video message for you. Do check out the link below and feel free to write back to us on your thoughts.

We look forward to hear from you as you recap the milestones for the year too.

 

https://www.newunion.sg/blog/new-union-happenings/year-end-message-from-new-union-group-ceo

Local SME Becomes Bankable Through Crowdfunding

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Crowdfunding in Singapore supports the SME industry by providing more forms of financing to address their needs. New Union, one of Singapore’s largest debt-based crowdfunding platforms, follows this path by supporting SME growth efforts by provision of crowdfunding loans.

Founder of homegrown SME ,Mezzo Interiors, Mr Lee Yue Cheng

Founder of homegrown SME ,Mezzo Interiors, Mr Lee Yue Cheng

Local homegrown interior design SME, Mezzo Interiors Pte Ltd (Mezzo), is one such beneficiary from debt-based crowdfunding. In June 2015, Mezzo was reported to have obtained a crowdfunding loan from New Union in a sum of S$ 660,000 to support their growing efforts. Today, Mezzo has successfully arranged an over S$ 2 million banking facility with a competitive single digit interest rate that allows them to grow the business to greater heights.

New Union’s co-founder Mr Eddie Lee said, “SMEs face a myriad of options when it comes to financing and New Union understands that younger enterprises usually have more difficulty seeking working capital as they may not have the track record to seek financing from traditional lenders, such as banks. We are pleased that Mezzo has grown to become a bankable SME and glad that we were able to support them during their early growth stage to prove their mettle.”

Crowdfunding loans usually offer interest rates that are at least 10 percent annualised, Mezzo’s effort in obtaining more competitive bank financing signifies the banking and traditional financing industry’s comfort and acceptance of Mezzo as a proven SME who could make good on their loan repayments.

Mezzo was incorporated in early 2013, the company is considered young today at 3 years of age. Without a proven track record, it would be difficult to gain access to bank financing. New Union is pleased to be able to assist Mezzo in building up a proven record of capability for further financing opportunities. Today, Mezzo has expanded from local commercial interior design assignment to overseas hospitality and residential main contractor projects.

Mezzo founder Mr Lee Yue Cheng states that: “In today’s business climate, SMEs face multiple challenges such as tight labour issues, limited access to financing, rising costs and increasing competition. SMEs need to be productive and grow quickly in order to remain competitive in their field. These challenges are not easy to overcome when you are a young company. We are lucky to be able to secure crowdfunding to help us grow our business in the early days.”

According to DP Information Group’s SME development Survey 2016, released on 2 Nov 2016, 22% of the 2,513 local SME respondents said they faced financing issues, up from 14 percent last year. They cite higher bank interest rates and tighter access to supplier credit as the main challenges,  which will result in a significant impact on the cash flow of SMEs.

Mr Eddie Lee also said that it is imperative for New Union to continue to serve SMEs who are building competitiveness in the market. “New Union believes that it is important to identify qualified SMEs who need working capital to maximise their capability and groom their profile. Through crowdfunding, we can build a win-win situation for SMEs and our platform investors.”

https://www.newunion.sg/blog/uncategorised/local-sme-becomes-bankable-through-crowdfunding

New Union at Commerce Educators Conference

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Our Group CEO, Mr Eddie Lee, was invited to be one of the Fintech Panelists in the Commerce Educators Conference 2016: Future-proofing Our Learners For the Emerging ‘New Normal’. Held last week, together with other distinguished guests like Mr Jeremy Low – Head Venture Debt of DBS, Mr Keir Veskivali – CEO of Smartly, Mr Kelvin Lee – CEO of Fundnel, Mr Bryan Low – Adjunct Faculty at Nanyang Business School and Mr Lee Junxian – Group CEO of Cashshield.

Fintech Panelists at the Commerce Educators Conference

Fintech Panelists at the Commerce Educators Conference

There were plenty of opportunities to meet with commerce teachers who would in turn, transfer knowledge and experience to their students in their respective schools. It was a positive session whereby such Fintech sharing would be imbued to students who, upon graduation into the working world, will have a better understanding of why and how Fintech will have a pronounce effect on the world. Topics covered include digital security, robo-advisory, equity and debt-based crowdfunding.

Room View_Commerce Educators Conference

Overview of the Commerce Educators Conference

The finance industry has been changing rapidly over the past 3 years where innovative startup  blends of security, convenience and disruptive technology have appeared in Singapore. New Union is  glad to be part of this momentum and look forward to contributing more to the local scene!

https://www.newunion.sg/blog/new-union-happenings/new-union-at-commerce-educators-conference

Our take on P2P Loan, TLC Cars

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Dear Members,

Today, we read on the Business Times about an article on a crowdfunding loan made to TLC Cars. We are concerned about the situation and hope that a resolution will come through for fellow platforms and investors.

TLC Cars did not approach New Union for funding requests, nor did we crowdfund any loans for them.

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight to our investors that New Union only puts up funding requests on our platform when our Credit Risk Committee (made up of business owners, industry professionals) is willing to fund a part of it themselves.

This enhances the loan curation process because every deal has been reviewed with the interests aligned with our investors’.

Regards,
Team New Union

https://www.newunion.sg/blog/new-union-happenings/our-take-on-p2p-loan-tlc-cars