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  • Writer's pictureSabra Genesis

Survival Tips for Tech Start-Ups as Funding Dries Up

"Cash is not only king, it's king, queen and everything else," Mr Raj Ganguly, who started B Capital Group with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, said at SuperReturn Asia, a conference that drew a record 1,500 senior executives.

SINGAPORE - For years, becoming a unicorn was the main goal of start-ups. Now, with venture funding drying up and many young companies' survival in doubt, another creature is the talk of the town: the cockroach.

Venture capitalists and technology chieftains converged in Singapore in recent weeks to hobnob over a number of high-profile annual conferences, marking the city-state's grand coming-out-of-Covid-19 party.

Yet gone was glamour and talk of blitzscaling, and participants instead focused on the drastic need for conserving cash and a dimming future.

"It's cockroach time - do whatever it takes to survive," Ms Tessa Wijaya, co-founder of Xendit, a digital payments firm valued at US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion), said during a panel discussion. "It's a little bit gross but it kind of works. If you can survive the next two, three years, you're probably going to thrive."

In the past several years, South-east Asia attracted abundant capital from investors eager to bet on one of the fastest-growing Internet economies. Perpetually growing teams was the norm at richly funded companies and for many young leaders and staff, this was the only environment they've ever known.

Now the start-up ecosystem is facing headwinds. Global venture funding slumped to US$74.5 billion in the past three months, its lowest level in nine quarters, according to CB Insights. That represents a 34 per cent quarterly drop, the biggest in a decade.

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