After Eric Tan's grandmother passed, he frequently walked past the never-used medical bed that his family had scraped together funds in order to purchase for her. When he looked at the bed, he thought about this and other items that are very costly and often underused. This lead to his plans to found Sharent with his team in 2017. The Singaporean startup just released its app, which allows users to rent over 1,300 different products to other users. Sharent aims to promote a culture of sharing and sustainability.
When did you decide to found Sharent?
In October of 2017. I was 22 and I realised that many of us own too many assets that are wasted. I went deeper into what other problems are caused by our over consumption and decided that it was necessary to found Sharent.
What is Sharent's mission?
Ultimately, we hope to create value for our users by allowing them to pursue a sustainable and shareable future. We also hope to venture into different areas to sharing economy.
Do you believe Sharent has a positive environmental and social impact? Why?
Yes. Because as sharing increases, over consumption will reduce production output and limit waste in terms of the amount of under-utilised assets sent to landfills. Sharing is great because it's affordable for the lower and middle class and it also allows individuals to rent something they need or use for leisure activities.
What is your team most proud of, and where could you improve the most?
We are most proud of of growing the number of items offered in our inventory from our decentralised network. We are also proud to support many other like-minded organisations.
What is the most challenging aspect of running your business thus far?
We believe that the most challenging part of our work is changing the market's perspective about renting and the understanding of Sharent and going beyond ownership.
Do you have advice for other entrepreneurs and startups in Singapore?
Be patient and stay calm, never be too excited about anything because excitement can lead to a bad move or a wrong decision.
Why did you choose to begin your operations in Singapore? Did you consider any other locations?
We choose Singapore because we are founded here; however, our potential markets include Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Based on our research of available statistics Thailand and Vietnam are more receptive to sharing. Additionally the population is larger in these cities. As for Indonesia it's also for the larger market and we have noticed that our fellow industry friends are doing better there.
ValuePenguin aims to educate entrepreneurs and small businesses about best business practices, especially about financial topics. With that in mind, we are interested in Sharent's financial journey. How did your business first obtain funding?
We started by emailing potential investors. After a couple hundred times of failure, we went for networking sessions and searched for investors. At one of these events I found a willing angel investor that I was referred to. We were also funded by ESG and mentored by Quest Ventures after multiple rejections.
How did you succeed in fundraising, and what was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome?
We found that the keys to success to every fundraising are confidence and passion, the pitch and to asking and asking smartly. It is important to do your due diligence properly by knowing the investor before talking to them.
Did Sharent ever require additional financing later (e.g. working capital loan, asset purchase loan, equity, etc.)? If so, why?
Yes. This is because we need to scale our business and cash is king.
Did you consider any alternatives to traditional financing, such as crowdfunding? If so, was it helpful? Why?
We tried several crowdfunding platforms; however, the platforms were not helpful enough for our needs.
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