Archive for February, 2014

Frontier Team: Border Crossings in 2013



In 2013, more of us sought out invaluable exposure especially in the ‘start-up scene’, which we entered with our venture into information services with ‘Frontier i’. While the start-up ecosystem is rapidly growing in Sri Lanka, we discovered the broader region offered myriad opportunities for the same. So almost all team members with over a year’s work experience at Frontier found themselves participating in international conferences and workshops in 2013.

In January, Thareef and Abdul, two of our economists, took part in the CFA India Investment Conference  held in Mumbai, India. The event provided them with the rare chance to hear world-class experts give their insights on the global economy; learn about the latest developments in the practice of investment management; and discuss forward-looking investment strategies. Experiencing the beauty and wonders of Mumbai for a few days afterwards was a special treat.

Two start-up events held in Singapore in February were attended by Amal, our CEO. The first event, Unreasonable at Sea, promoted tech start-ups which focused on solving social problems. Although not directly related to Frontier, Amal found it to be a very inspirational and humbling experience. See pictures here.

In Start-up Grind Singapore, Amal participated in a fire-side chat with Steven Goh, the CEO and cofounder of Mig33, a global mobile consumer internet company and a Director of BellDirect, the first online stock broker in Australia. But what caught Amal’s interest was his first visit to Block 71, a place full of start-ups and investors, which (as he puts it) opened his eyes to how innovation and startups happen in Singapore.

After that it was the Startup Asia 2013, which was held in Biopolis, Singapore in April. Our equity analyst Ashika together with our strategy implementer Tharini took part in this event. The two-day event was more of a discussion where speakers shared their views about startups, startup eco systems and related topics like Startup Opportunities in Southeast Asia,  Twitter in Southeast Asia, Women in startups etc. The experiences shared by the founders and co-founders of startups from different parts of South East Asia were insightful and inspiring. The opportunity to interact with some of these figures and being able to witness some start-up pitches was the icing on the cake.

In May, Amal again visited Singapore to participate in four start-up events; Startup Singapore Awards Ceremony, Pollenizer, Startup Clinik and Talk on Platforms. Of the four what Amal saw as the most interesting and useful event for Frontier was the Startup Clinik where he got the opportunity to discuss our new products with a Singaporean entrepreneur.

Shiran, our economic analyst and equity analyst Kulunu took part in Echelon 2013 which was held in Singapore in June. This was a forum which discussed issues relating to creating a successful startup. It also consisted of a pitch event showcasing some of the best ideas/startups in the Asian Pacific region.

Our two analysts, who both have entrepreneurial ambitions, were inspired by the knowledge and insights imparted in the forum relating to starting up a business, grasping something of the level of drive and passion required to launch a new enterprise. They came back with valuable insights useful in helping to instill the startup culture in Frontier along with ideas to help the firm grow.

The firm’s growth has gone hand in hand with the intellectual growth and expansion of outlook and perspective of its people. 2014, and hopefully the years to come, will continue to add similar value to the firm and the team.

What Does Frontier I Have in Common with Savile Row?

Frontier i likes to think of itself as an entity that not simply caters to clients’ informational needs, but an entity that actively strives to make client lives more efficient and productive. Think about it, smart, creative people function best when they can give their intelligence and creativity full reign. But numerous mundane, everyday tasks get in the way of this. You need to go do your laundry, go pick up your kids from school or go have lunch. Except in the case of the latter, everything else is something that you could possibly get someone else to do for you.

At Frontier we realize that a key need that busy people in the information age need is just that, information. Obtaining this information though can be a tough thing to do. It can be like fishing in a large lake for just a specific kind of fish from among a thousand different varieties. Today there is just too much information out there, and parsing exactly what you will need from the irrelevant content out there can be time consuming and seriously interfere with your creative and thought processes.

To imagine that someone else can do this for you is also tough. Someone else can pick up your laundry, sure no problem. Someone else can pick up your kids from school. But can someone really understand exactly what you need to know about what is happening in the world at any given time? To do this that someone will need to either be constantly taking directions from you or literally be inside your head.

Well sure, it can work if one has a personal assistant, someone who understands exactly what you need because you constantly instruct them on it. But this is expensive, and unrealistic. Automated services like RSS feeds, can try to do the job, but they often lack nuance and cannot dig deep into more obscure specialized areas of interest, from sources that are non-mainstream for instance. Information curation firms also exist, they will, for a fee, do you periodic reports on areas of interest. They are often very good. But as we’ve found after lots of looking they also can be very limited.

Most curation firms have fixed coverage universes, they have areas of specialization and rarely move beyond them. They can cover your news needs when it comes to investments you’ve made in Guatemala for instance, but will be hard pressed to throw in coverage of your interest in vintage stamp collecting at the same time.

This niche is what Frontier I’s bespoke information curation services is seeking to fill. We offer curation services to corporates that are only interested in fixed coverage universes as well, but at the higher end when it comes to clients with sophisticated informational needs we have a model that, due to its flexibility and structure, can go all out to create a highly customized personalized news curation services.