By Kevin McSpadden for e27.com
tryb Capital, a Singaporean growth-stage technology investor, announced today its first official investment — a US$4 million strategic financing for Chinsay AB, a Swedish SaaS company digitalising freighting contracts.
While the deal was the first for tryb as a company, the Co-founders had invested in MC Payment as a syndicate.
The money will be used to help integrate Chinsay into the Asian (specifically Singapore and ASEAN) trade ecosystem. Chinsay will also be developing the next generation of its online contracts platform.
“Singapore’s position as a key shipping and trading hub made it more attractive for tryb Capital to invest into Chinsay. This is a great example of how innovative technologies from anywhere, in this case Sweden, can leverage Singapore as a growth platform into Asia,” said tryb Chairman and Co-founder Magnus Böcker in a statement.
Chinsay is a company that is digitalising the many contracts within the shipping industry. Traditional paper contracts are slow, antiquated, and ripe for disruption in the digital economy.
Kind of like the ‘Google Docs of shipping’, Chinsay’s product speeds up a process that often takes longer to complete than the transportation of the cargo.
The next step, according to tryb Co-founder Markus Gnirck in an interview with e27, is to leveraging Chinsay’s internal data from its contract services to build a more powerful platform.
“The data that is going through [Chinsay] is very valuable. So how can you help your users in Chinsay have more insights into contracts? How many freights are going from A to B. With new tools you can build more products on top of that,” said Gnirck.
This is the first outside investment for Chinsay, which is not a startup (it is 17 years old with “strong cashflows”).
Gnirck said tryb will continue to look towards these SMEs and growth-stage capital companies and said tryb’s risk profile is more moderate than a typical VC.
Changing the fintech conversation
Comparing the banks to a warehouse, and fintech companies to the logistics providers, Gnirck said the team wants to change the conversation in the fintech space, which he says is heavily focussed on B2C consumer finance products.
“Startups are actively trying to get into the banking game, but I would say the success is very limited there,” he said.
“I think that the industry is heading towards technology that is sitting on the periphery. The technology of finance; there is a lot of technology moving outside the banks and being there to process the data flow. That technology in finance has been around for decades.”
This thesis statement has guided a fairly unique strategy for tryb as an investment company (which is a holding company, not a fund).
“We have a more operational view on how to approach [our investments]. How can we grow them? It’s either geographic or product acquisition,” said Gnirck.
In many instances the only way to achieve expansion or product acquisition is through M&A activity, which Gnirck said tryb expects to see within its portfolio.
“Fintech will go through consolidation. We cannot have 10,000 companies doing the same thing in payments,” he said.
Insight for startups: Getting funded
tryb, which was launched last year, is a young company. The fact that a Singaporean company made its first real investment into a Swedish logistics provide aroused curiosity about how tryb found Chinsay.
To give startups an idea, over the last year, tryb looked at 960 companies, with about half of them being from Asia and the other half split between the US and Europe.
The connection to Chinsay came through Böcker, a well-known person in the finance world who was previously the CEO of the Singapore Stock Exchange from 2009-2015 and before that the President of Nasdaq.
A previous employee for Böcker connected tryb to Chinsay, which eventually led to the investment.
It provides a good case study of the process behind those funding announcements made in media like e27.