Kaidi Ruusalepp worked in the trading, clearing, and settlement industry for 11 years. After all those years serving the exchange, she worked up the courage to become an entrepreneur.
What’s your story?
I was 20 years old when the Estonian Government Office hired me as the country’s first IT lawyer. I was responsible for all IT related legal acts, including co-creating the Estonian Digital Signatures Act. When Estonia started to reform their pension system and introduce private pensions, the Tallinn Stock Exchange hired me to run the project. I soon became the CEO of the Estonian Central Securities Depository, a subsidiary of the stock exchange; and then three years later I was appointed the CEO of the NASDAQ Tallinn Stock Exchange. After serving the exchange group for 11 years, I founded Funderbeam – a company focusing on the funding and trading of global private companies. It is a marketplace to provide liquidity for startups and SME investments, using the blockchain technology as the trust producer. Funderbeam was recognised and awarded as the Best European FinTech Company in 2017 at the European FinTech Awards.
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s not so much about the industry itself – the financial sector is rather conservative and very regulated – but it’s about the challenge. How can you introduce new business models built on the newest technology into such classical industry? And how can you provide the service across borders, globally.
What’s your connection to Asia?
As European regulation is too standardised based on the existing business models, we have applied for a trading license in Singapore. This will enable us to invest and trade with private companies globally, to disintermediate the service and use the newest blockchain technology. Asia is also a booming market in relation to startup investments and this is the second reason and relation to Asia. In August, I moved to Singapore with my family and to be honest, my kids refuse to go back to Europe! 🙂
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. Global, trusted, regulated and thus – open to innovation.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you want to innovate, then ask forgiveness, not permission.
Who inspires you?
All female global entrepreneurs and The President of Estonia, Mrs Kersti Kaljulaid.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
As a female founder with kids – never underestimate your children. They are the source of life, confidence and comfort. And you can actually rely on them when going through some hard times.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have moved closer to new markets earlier, and I would have relocated to Singapore right after we made a decision that we would apply for a license in Singapore.
How do you unwind?
I read a lot – losing myself in someone else’s story 🙂
Orienteering – I coach top female orienteer in Estonia and the process is very challenging. And my kids – they just drag you out of work stress.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I haven’t had much time to travel around Asia, but I absolutely love non-touristy places. I go where others don’t go – then you see the places in their pure beauty.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Rachel Botsman “Who can you trust?”
Shameless plug for your business:
Funderbeam is a platform for financing and trading privately-held companies. It is based on blockchain technology to make transactions traceable in a secure and transparent way. Companies raising and trading on our platform include startups, but also later-stage companies that are launching a new product. Those companies get access to capital and funding while investors can diversify their portfolio but also have liquidity for their investments as the shares they buy are tradable on Funderbeam’s secondary market. It is global private “exchange”.
How can people connect with you?
I also publish stories about our journey, learnings and challenges on our Funderbeam Wire.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.