The Silicon Review
Through its searing growth, Funding Societies | Modalku remains dedicated to the vision of funding underserved SMEs and improving societies in Southeast Asia.
Funding Societies | Modalku connects underserved SMEs in Southeast Asia with retail and institutional investors by providing business loans crowdfunded by investors. Through a digital platform, the 3 year-old firm offers flexible business loans to SMEs with quick approvals, while providing alternative investment opportunities with potentially higher returns to investors.
Launched in 2015, Funding Societies | Modalku has achieved numerous milestones in a short span of time. It’s the leading marketplace lending platform in Southeast Asia, with over S$200 million in loans crowdfunded by over 75,000 investors in the region. In its recent Series B funding round, Funding Societies | Modalku secured US$25 million, led by SoftBank Ventures Korea. Sequoia India, Alpha JWC Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, Line Ventures and Qualgro were some of the other VCs who participated in its Series B round, the largest round of funding raised by a marketplace lending platform in Southeast Asia.
The Genesis of Funding Societies | Modalku
The 2 co-founders Kelvin Teo and Reynold Wijaya have their roots in Southeast Asia and understand the financing pain points faced by SMEs in this region. Their passion made them launch the company in 2015 in Singapore even before they had graduated from Harvard Business School. Subsequently, the company expanded to Indonesia (called Modalku, which means “My Capital”, in 2016) and Malaysia (in 2017), financing credit-worthy but underserved SMEs in the Southeast Asian region.
The company is overwhelmed by the fact that its work has a visible and recognizable impact in Southeast Asia, in the fields of FinTech, SME financing, and alternative investments. Furthermore, in each of the countries Funding Societies | Modalku operates, it has achieved several milestones, awards and clinched major partnerships to propel the firm’s growth.
Obstacles Overcome On the Stairway to Success
Funding Societies | Modalku often jokes that finding a new office for its ever-expanding team is the real challenge. However, managing the company’s fast growth and evolving operations is not easy.
One of the company’s values is Test | Measure | Act and living by this value, the teams are constantly trying to come up with new innovative products and initiatives. Many of these initiatives are successful, but some of them are not. This can be demotivating at times but the company culture ensures that people lift each other up and continue to test.
When it comes to company culture, the co-founders, Kelvin Teo and Reynold Wijaya, embarked on a major exercise to capture, encode, and articulate their culture so it could serve as a lightning rod that guides and unifies the team. Growing from a one-person team to its current team of more than 200 members across 3 countries, the company is on an exponential growth and there are no signs of slowing down.
Kelvin Teo, says, “As SME digital financing is a big problem, we truly need everyone’s hearts and minds to work as one team. We focus on hiring the best talent, setting clear direction, creating an environment where everyone can thrive, and then get out of their way.”
This philosophy is well articulated through the 5 company culture values which incidentally were decided by the team members themselves:
Standing Ovation for Funding Societies | Modalku achievements
The Future Roadmap
The Southeast Asian region has a lack of understanding of peer-to-peer lending as it’s still relatively new. Funding Societies | Modalku’s focus is to increase awareness of SMEs towards alternative financing and awareness of the public towards alternative investment. Through technology and data, the company is also continuously improving their credit underwriting model and user experience.
“Many of our borrowers are repeat clients as they value fuss-free financing that suits their needs. Investors can also invest 100% digitally, via web and app, with their questions promptly addressed by our Customer Experience team and chatbot,” says Kelvin Teo.
Reynold Wijaya concludes, “We focus on Southeast Asia because we are passionate about the region. Each country has its unique culture, economic and regulatory climate. Hence, we localise our offerings and services each time we enter a new country.”
The Illustration of Success: Clientele Testimonies
Reynold Wijaya reveals, “Being part of a family business myself, I feel for the SMEs. We take a customer-centric approach in our decisions and hope to make a positive impact in societies.”
“Everyone was trying his/her best to assess our documents and get things done. Once you get through the first round, the second round was very quick - it only took me two to three hours.” - Nelson Ng, World Snack (SME Owner).
“Compared to the banks, the procedures at Funding Societies are much simpler and quicker. For SME owners like me, it’s a huge difference.” - Liow, HSC Powertech (SME Owner).
“The website is very interactive and different from most investment related websites, and it was very easy to follow the website, soon after I could already fund my account and get invested.” - Nigel Fernandez, Co-Founder of financial blog CapitalistLAD (Investor).
The Founding Duo
Kelvin Teo, Co-founder of Funding Societies | Modalku: Prior to Funding Societies, Kelvin served as a consulting professional at KKR, McKinsey, and Accenture across Southeast Asia. In his work, he led a bank branch transformation, developing a passion for SMEs in him. Selected as Top 200 FinTech Influencers in Asia 2018, Kelvin has spoken at major conferences such as LendIt Shanghai, Boao Hainan, and Money 20/20 Asia. He has also been featured on Bloomberg, BBC and Business Times. Kelvin graduated from Harvard Business School and the National University of Singapore and is a certified Chartered Accountant.
Reynold Wijaya, Co-founder of Funding Societies | Modalku: Reynold’s ultimate dream is to build a better Indonesia through financial inclusion. A sudden credit line from supplier saved the near-collapse of his family business, before it became one of the largest confectioneries in Indonesia. Prior to Funding Societies, Reynold was an executive at his family business, where he drove all expansion and efficiency projects, generating millions in savings. Selected as Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2018, Reynold graduated from Harvard Business School and has a Master and Bachelor in Engineering from University of Michigan.