In conversation with Thailand's first Insurtech female founder, Cindy Kua from Sunday

posted on 28 Sep 2021

We are pleased to share that our portfolio company, Sunday, Bangkok-based insurtech just raised USD 45M for their Series B round from investors like Tencent and Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India. Our partner, Carmen Yuen had an intimate conversation with Cindy (CEO of Sunday) to hear her thoughts on the recent completed Series B round, how the leadership team has evolved and what new exciting developments to expect in the next 18 months.

Read their full transcript below.


Sunday Interview Transcript

Interviewee: Cindy Kua, Co-founder and CEO, Sunday Ins. Co. Ltd.

Interviewer: Carmen Yuen, Partner, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India

Carmen: Good day to all. We're privileged to have with us Cindy Kua, founder and CEO of Sunday insurance holdings.

By way of background, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India first interacted with Cindy in the first quarter of 2018 where we discovered that Sunday has a general insurance underwriting licence, a broker licence and an agency licence in Thailand. What this means is Sunday is able to create insurance products, price it, market it and distribute it.

Added to the licences, Sunday has a team of machine learning, AI, software engineers, data sciences and developers who are able to scrape data, make sense of it, and quickly tweak parameters to ensure the insurance products are relevant to the market and are priced appropriately.

We have the honour of being Sunday's first external investor, and have been on a journey with Cindy since 2018. So we want to welcome you Cindy to join us in this conversation.

Q: We note that Sunday has raised an oversubscribed round, what were some of the considerations for having the cap at $45 million, and not to increase it?

Cindy: I think that for any startup, it's hard to say no to given the funding interest. But from our perspective, for Sunday, we always have to balance between the amount of capital that we need to drive our business plan but also the amount of dilution that we can sort of absorb within our cap table.

So for the purposes of our recent series B fundraising, we've already arrived at about a 10 million oversubscribed amount. So we feel at that point in time, that that's sufficient to provide us with some cushion because going into the year of 2022, we do realise there could be some uncertainties in the market as well, but also to drive further growth beyond what we've already originally planned. But also to invite new investors coming in.

The second reason for us on why we decided to cap it at $45 million USD is also because we wanted to close the round. I mean, it's a delicate balance between how much we want to, you know, invite and accommodate all the funding interests that we have, but also to balance between our leadership team and local teams' focus and in going back to the business as well. So those were the reasons why we decided to cap it at $45 million.

Carmen: Got it. Thanks. Secondly, we have heard that we've heard enough about investors having to add value, I mean, notice that you've got very new investors this round, new investors who are different.

Q: What do you want these investors to bring to the table?

Cindy: Yes, I think this round has been really interesting for me and a new experience, we obviously have a very good balance between venture capitals, conglomerates, CVCs as well. This is able to give me a diversified view of for example, the first one is the market trends.

So I think what I do expect going forward from our board and our shareholders is to help the company give us visibility on what are the new market trends that we see going forward? How is the market sentiment? Especially because we definitely need to ensure there are sustainable and growing funding interests for our next few rounds.

And the second one is also because we do see a lot more interest from VCs or CVCs coming in from the US and Europe and how they want to also engage the Southeast Asian market and vice versa as well. So I think this time, we have quite a few VCs and CVCs coming in from that part of the world. So it's interesting for us to also learn what they expect to see in terms of performance from Southeast Asian companies.

The third one is I guess, it's also creating ecosystems. I think we have a lot of our new shareholders coming in where they are also trying to learn what we are doing. We are also trying to learn what they want. That can be a lot of potential collaborations, adding value between both parties too. So I think those are the areas that we would probably hope to see going forward.

Carmen: And fundraising is actually teamwork.

Q: Could you share how your leadership team was involved in this journey?

Cindy: Sure. I mean, even for us, we are always keen and interested to understand why certain investors are interested to put money with us, you know, and ride the journey along with us. So for them during the pitching process, pre and post, the pre due diligence stage, and even during the due diligence stage, we have our leadership team, from data, tech and from marketing, for example, also sharing more with the investors about what we do.

The experience that we've had so far is the first round I would go in and pitch because first impression also counts for a lot of investors. But thereafter, some investors typically will also want to go deeper into the strategy and product positioning according to our chapters as well.

I think that's how my leadership team has been contributing their time and post the pitching process, once we've signed a term sheet, going into the due diligence stage, you know, setting up the data room, ensuring that it's being updated, it's clearly structured in a way that allows the due diligence process to be conducted smoothly, is where they came in to contribute as well.

And finally, I think, you know, at the negotiation stage, it's a decision making process within the group, our leadership team as well. So I think they do contribute their views. For example, what should be in the board reserves matter, you know, how much should we be giving? So stuff like that, I think it is also things that we discuss internally as a team.

Q: What are some of the exciting new developments we can see coming from the company in, let's say, the next 12 to 18 months?

Cindy: Yeah, so I think we're super excited to have so many people on board with us. And now we're good to go in terms of our next recent fundraise. And that will take us all the way up, even for the next 18 months.

I think the first one is definitely making our footprint in Indonesia, I mean, we made a very bold position to set up an office in Indonesia despite COVID-19. That shows our very deep commitment and also our interest in that market.

I think next year is going to be a super exciting year where we are going to go in and become full stack, and really ramp up our growth in that market end, and decide which of our solutions that we can clone from our first market Thailand to Indonesia, but also taking in mind the localization of certain features. The second one is we're growing our set of products. So for the past three to four years with our core product, for example, has always been employee benefits, you know, growing the B2B channel.

But this round, I think there are so many changes in market trends and consumer behaviour as well. For us being in the health insurance vertical and healthcare vertical space, we think that the demand for health insurance is just going to grow, given the market environment as well.

I think we're also going retail, really upselling and cross selling, not just retail health, but also certain other products as well that we are seeing could be rising demand. And the third one, I guess, is also a new leadership member as well. I think, for us, we're entering Series B, we're only going to get larger. So I think we're definitely looking forward to adding a Chief Financial Officer with us as well to really take us to the next chapter.

Q: Finally, just curious, in terms of long term, if you were to look at a company from a long term perspective, what are some of your plans for Sunday? And do you see your platform becoming a truly global one?

Cindy: Yeah, I think that's a very important question. So definitely for the next five to six years, we want to have a footprint in ASEAN because that's our immediate market. I think ASEAN is home to 650 million population. it's super large, and the growth CAGR year on year is definitely leading compared to other markets.

We definitely want to have a footprint as a full stack insurtech. Wherever we can get licences and we are bullish in that market, we want to really enter and and remove the barrier of entry and get a licence and that could be new licences or maybe in partnership with existing players in the market.

But definitely, I think, because as we see how our business has pivoted and probably will pivot in the next few years, there's definitely a lot of potential to be a global platform. So for example, in terms of globally, it could be a broker platform or it could be, you know, white labelling any of our solutions to be a SaaS.

I think that's definitely a potential. We do have some incoming requests. However, it's just a matter of then, you know, if you want to be a global platform on those types of features or solutions or products, then the question is, how do you really differentiate? And how do you really expand and build your business to really know the local markets in those regions? So definitely, I think there is potential.

Carmen: Got it. Thank you. Thanks a lot, Cindy. So guys, hear you. You've heard it from Cindy. Some of her insights relating to the most recent fundraise that we have. We'll continue to journey with Cindy and we are excited to share with you other developments that will come our way. Thank you.

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