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Bambu is a Singapore-based robo-advisory startup. We talked to the company about working with Kindrik Partners through their successful Series A and B rounds.
Bambu is a B2B robo-advisor platform provider to banks and other financial institutions. Their digital platform allows these financial institutions to offer automated and technology-augmented investment services to their customers. The company started up in August 2016, and now has 70 staff with clients in America, Europe, the Middle East, and across Asia.
Bambu raised US$10m in their series B round which closed in June 2019. We spoke to their CEO and co-founder Ned Phillips about the fundraising process.
Ned first heard about Kindrik Partners through an early investor and advisor to Bambu. When it came time to do their Series A round, Bambu had secured its first strategic investor, Franklin Templeton Investments, as well as its first venture capital investor, Wavemaker Partners. Since it was their first equity round, Ned knew it was time to bring in professional legal advisors.
As part of their search, Ned said that he met with a few of the bigger law firms, but none of them quite fit.
“You meet the partner”, he said, “but you know you’re not going to get the partner – the actual work always gets handed off to someone else in the firm.”
Kindrik Partners was transparent and honest when presenting their team. “What I liked about Kindrik Partners was that when I met Chris [Wilson] and Sarah [Yen], they said ‘this is us, you’re going to be working with us’, which was nice.“
“That made a big difference.”, says Ned. “It was important for us to know who we were dealing with, and it was very clear that it was them – that this was my team.”
The series A round was very different from the seed round for Bambu. “The series A was the first time we were introduced to equity documents”, recalls Ned. “In our seed round we had used a SAFE convertible note, so there were no equity investors at that point.”
It was a big learning curve, particularly as a first-time founder. “My clearest memory about the Series A was the amount I learned about things I never knew about”, says Ned.
“There were a lot of things about equity documents that I wasn’t familiar with – tag-alongs, drag-alongs, founder vesting, liquidity preferences, warranties.”
(Unfamiliar with these terms? Click through to our startup glossary to learn more.)
When it came time for the series B round, Ned thinks that they were fortunate with how things went, and that it felt easier, attributing it to understanding more of the process and jargon.
“We had Franklin as a returning investor who was also willing to lead the round for us. We ended up with two investors filling the round – but it turned out that as soon as our round was full, everyone else wanted to come in, which was a nice problem to have.”
For other startups looking to raise money, Ned advises perseverance. “It’s not that it’s a numbers game, but it does take persistence. We reached out to so many investors. Many people give up at 10, or 20, 30, 40 people telling them no. But don’t be deterred – be polite, say thank you, and move on.”
Ned describes the team as super helpful. “When we were first introduced, the fundraising process was new to me – the combination of Chris and Sarah on board to help was invaluable.”
Ned highlights Chris as an incredibly founder-friendly lawyer. “As a founder, you want to keep good investor relations, since it’s going to be a long-term relationship.”
“Chris could be the bad cop when he felt it was in the company’s best interests. He was also great at explaining what was important and what we could let go. He was strong, but fair.”
Ned also emphasises the complexity in negotiating a series A round. “Raising money isn’t just a negotiation on value (that part is done fairly quickly). There are all of these other things to decide in terms of what to hold onto and what to let go of.”
Ned recommends the law firm to other startup founders doing who are looking to raise funds for their company. “The team at Kindrik Partners really focuses on raising funds, and it’s so valuable to be talking directly with the people who are holding the pen on the documents, rather than just being a part of the sausage mill.”
“Put it this way – when it came time to do our series B, we didn’t spend one second thinking about using someone else. It was like, OK, we’re doing our round. Let’s get in touch with Kindrik Partners and get started.”
It’s an exciting time for Bambu. The startup has lots of plans from the proceeds of their series B, including new products set for release and building their London presence. But Singapore remains home for the time being.
“Singapore is really helping fintech”, says Ned. “Honestly, it’s amazing – the Fintech Festival alone had 40,000 people attending last year. We’re selling to the world, but there’s no better place to do that from than Singapore.”
[Note: The firm’s name was changed to Kindrik Partners in July 2020 and references to the firm’s previous name have been updated.]