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Igniting Conversations with Futurists of Singapore - Christina Teo, she1K

Let’s Talk: Empowering Asia’s entrepreneurs through the power of community

Christina Teo, the founder and chief builder of she1K, has a mission: to rally 1,000 executives around the world to empower, fund and board early-stage startups. Armed with a belief in the power of community, Christina aims to be the bridge between the corporate world and the startup community – where they can learn from one another to grow and make a difference.

With decades of experience in established global tech companies, Christina shares how she herself had to unlearn a lot of thinking from the corporate world to understand the startup ecosystem. Such curiosity and passion for knowledge is vital to innovation, an attitude that encapsulates Living Progress.

We speak with Christina to find out what inspires her.

Igniting Conversations with Futurists of Singapore - Christina Teo, she1K

How did you start she1K?

Back in 2016, I attended an event hosted by Slush, the world’s largest startup community. I was curious about the startup phenomenon, and I did not know much about the landscape, but that event really blew my mind. I met many young entrepreneurs there and I wanted to learn more.

The more I dug in, the more I realised what I did not know. I had to unlearn a lot of thinking from the corporate world, and at times, it was intimidating and embarrassing. So I decided to start a community, which was out of my comfort zone.I wanted to help other women like me who may be curious about the startup space, but didn’t know how to get started. If I were to learn, I might as well learn along with others.

After about three years of events, networking and learning, I realised there was not much opportunity to apply these learnings. This inspired me to start looking into angel investing which then led me to build a community focused on empowering other C-suite executives in angel investing through learning by doing. And that’s how she1K was born.

What startups are you interested in?

I’m interested in startups that are in the deep tech space. In fact, my very first startup investment was Performance Rotors, a homegrown drones and robotics solutions company. We focus on early-stage startups at she1K. Sustainability and medtech are natural choices due to the profound impact they have. We’re also actively watching the EV space, as there are many startups contributing to the future of mobility.

Igniting Conversations with Futurists of Singapore - Christina Teo, she1K

How involved are she1K’s investors in the startups?

There’s a symbiotic relationship between our C-suite investors and startups. As angel investors, it’s not just about the money, but the opportunity to be involved. Through interactions with the startups, the executives are able to share their market experience and strategies, but also learn about different innovations beyond their own vertical industry.

We host a programme called C-shark Tank, where we bring in executives who will commit an upfront investment to the startups pitching. We’re in our sixth season, and one of the reasons why investors come back consecutively is due to opportunities to interact firsthand with the latest technology, startups and connect with other like-minded executives on the same journey. It can be a little bit addictive.

Watch the video below to learn more about Christina’s journey to connect the corporate and startup world:

Check out the other videos in the Igniting Conversations with Futurists of Singapore series. Hosted by Markus Schuster, Managing Director of Audi Singapore, the series celebrates the inspiring stories and aspirations of six local changemakers, and how they are creating a better future in their own ways.

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