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Trailblazers I Am Generation T: Kelvin Lee

I Am Generation T: Kelvin Lee

I Am Generation T: Kelvin Lee
By Melissa Twigg
By Melissa Twigg
July 31, 2019
We speak to the financier about Jedi Masters, hapless hobbits and why youth is wasted on the young

I am Generation T is a series of quick-fire Q&As with some of the extraordinary individuals on the Gen.T List.

Kelvin Lee is all about inclusivity. His three-year-old finance firm, Fundnel, makes a point of engaging with everyday businesses that previously struggled to get investors.

The private investment platform leverages data, using an AI-driven deal screening process to curate opportunities in growth and pre-IPO companies for a global network of more than 10,000 investors. Put simply, it provides small companies that usually wouldn't be on the radar of investors with the opportunity to raise capital; for investors, it provides a suite of possible deals that might otherwise be missed. Since its launch in 2015, the company reports that the value of deals on its platform exceeds US$1.8 billion.  

After supporting hundreds of small businesses, Fundnel was endorsed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and has also been embraced by government bodies in Australia, in the hope Fundnel will give small businesses a boost Down Under. Here, we talk to the finance guru about wizards, words of advice and how to weather the storms life throws at you.

What’s non-negotiable for you?
People who are motivated. There's nothing I dislike more than people who are too lazy to even try to do something new.

What was your biggest 'A-ha' moment in life?
Realising there was a missing generation of investors without stock trading accounts on the existing exchanges—and companies that prefer to stay private longer, if not forever.

Who’s your hero?
Stephen Hawking—for his amazing intelligence, and particularly because he was dealt one of the worst hands possible yet was determined to play it until the end of his life with courage, grace and humour.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Reinventing air-cooling systems to combat global warming.

What’s your ultimate professional ambition?
To build the capital markets for the next generation of investors and business owners.

What do you want to be remembered for? 
For confronting widely accepted norms and rewriting the rulebook for regional capital markets, and for Fundnel to be the firm best known for democratising private investments for the average person.

If you could go out for a drink with anyone in the world—alive or dead, real or fictional—who would it be?
Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. I’d ask him why he didn’t summon the eagles to send Frodo directly to Mordor, instead of letting him go on the journey by foot. It’s always bothered me.

Any productivity hacks you swear by?
Noise-cancelling headphones are worth every single penny.

What was your greatest failure and what did it teach you?
That I didn’t travel enough when I was younger. And it taught me that it's only as you get older that you realise the value of youth.

What’s the next disruptor in your industry going to be?
Artificial Intelligence for sure. While AI is already ubiquitous in the fintech space, I believe its application at a granular level to every system component will lead to an immense difference in the way we transact.

Is there a quote that you love or live by?
"Do or do not, there is no try.” That one comes to you from Yoda the Jedi Master [in Star Wars].

What’s a book that changed your life?
Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I first picked up the book around the time when I began my entrepreneurial journey. It struck a chord with me and changed the way I executed plans at work and even at home.

If I had an extra hour in my day I would…
Spend it reading.

While AI is already ubiquitous in the fintech space, I believe its application at a granular level to every system component will lead to an immense difference in the way we transact

Kelvin Lee

What advice would you give a younger you?
Don’t be afraid to let go of high performers who are toxic to the firm’s culture.

What does Generation T mean to you?
A cohort of like-minded, free-spirited innovators, determined to shape tomorrow.

The best advice I ever got was...
"Don’t try to calm the storm, calm yourself… the storm will pass."

And the worst is...
“Don’t rock the boat.” It literally goes against the fundamentals of self-improvement.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you…
What you can or cannot do—you are the master of your own destiny.

The secret to success is…
Never giving up.

Any regrets?
Delaying my entrepreneurial journey because I was too comfortable in the corporate world.

What’s something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I leverage on the power of the subconscious mind in solving challenging problems just before going to sleep, and I keep a notebook next to my bed to jot down ideas that I get during the middle of the night.


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