Aqumon's Kelvin Lei On Building The Next Fintech Unicorn
In the fourth episode of our podcast, Up to Speed with UBS, Kelvin Lei, the co-founder and CEO of Aqumon talks about building a unicorn startup, wealth management trends and the importance of self-belief
The future is bright for startups in the fintech industry. Global funding into the space more than doubled last year to a record US$132 billion, making up 21 percent of all venture dollars worldwide. The total number of fintech unicorns also reached 235 in 2021, up 108 percent from the previous year.
So, what does fintech have in common with Uber? (Hint: – you’ll not be making money for a while). How do you know if you’ve got a winning startup in the making? And what is the secret sauce to building the next unicorn?
We asked these questions and more to Kelvin Lei, the co-founder and CEO of digital wealth management platform Aqumon, in the fourth episode of our podcast, Up to Speed with UBS. In conversation with Gen.T’s Lee Williamson, Lei shares about his fintech company’s meteoric success; why there’s a US$59 trillion opportunity sitting in wealth management; and why self-confidence isn’t just about belief, but also about understanding your industry and sector.
Here are a few excerpts from the conversation. Click the audio player below to listen to the full episode.
ON AQUMON’S METEORIC SUCCESS
“Right time, right place, right product. Right time: when we started the company five years ago, Fintech was booming in Hong Kong—it’s the financial hub of Asia. And the product that we offer to the financial institutions is very powerful and empowers their investment clients.”
ON THE FINTECH REVOLUTION
“The financial industry is a very, very large industry. The revolution is happening from the backend to the frontend.”
ON THE FINTECH WEALTH MANAGEMENT TREND
“We are facing a tremendous new trend in fintech, especially in wealth management. For example, in the past, we only served the billionaires from the banking side, but there are only 60,000 billionaires globally. Now, we are facing the new investment force, which is 330 million people that are holding US$59 trillion, which is tremendous money. I don't think the institutions are ready for this.”
ON THE CHALLENGES OF BUILDING A FINTECH UNICORN
“At the very beginning, getting people to believe in you is very important. When we started the company back in 2017, we didn’t have money, we didn’t have an office. We had to persuade candidates to join our team, and investors to invest during the first round of financing. A combination of our vision, technology and data helped us to empower investors.”
ON ADVICE FOR EARLY-STAGE ENTREPRENEURS
“You’ve got to believe in yourself. Self-confidence is very, very important. You need to believe in your team; you need to believe in what you do. Also, it should be based on your understanding of the sector and the industry. Most importantly, you need to persuade a lot of people: your shareholders, your team and also your clients.”
ON HOW TO SPOT THE NEXT UNICORN EARLY
“The first factor is scalability. Usually, the first thing the investor will ask you is your total addressable market. For example, in my sector, we are looking to serve 130 million people across Asia, which is a very, very huge market annually. It will generate US$80 billion in revenue. And the second factor is about the founding team, right? You need to have the right people, who are very confident about the sector.”
ON HOW TO BUILD THE NEXT FINTECH UNICORN
“You need to always look at the personality and belief that the founder has in the project. That's how you can spot an early-stage unicorn. It's all about the founder.”
Quotes are edited for clarity and brevity.