beSUCCESS Media Group supports "Founder Club Members" as preferred partners for their global success!
About beSUCCESS : Coupang, Woowa Brothers and Toss, all three companies have something more in common than their billionaire status. They were a part of beSUCCESS Media Group’s startup conference beGLOBAL in 2013. beSUCCESS, the tech startup media hosted one of the biggest startup conferences called beGLOBAL. The conference was organized with the objective to showcase promising startups from South Korea at a global stage. beSUCCESS’s expertise in Korea’s startup community, international media, and investor network have given promising startups an opportunity to become the next unicorn.
beSUCCESS Media Group not only provides direct and indirect information to expand the insights of domestic start-ups such as tech trends, startup news, and entrepreneurship around the world (including Silicon Valley), but also introduces Asia’s startup ecosystem and news in English to the rest of the world to support the global success of Asian startup ecosystem. The company also runs KoreaTechDesk.com and AsiaTechDaily.com, the English news site about Korean and Asian startups for global readers. Additionally, beSUCCESS Media Group recently launched the news aggregations site called Startupnchill.com to bring more value to the Korean readers.
In the past 9 years, beSUCCESS Media Group has worked with more than 10,000 entrepreneurs in Asia to face the challenges and problems in the journey of entrepreneurship. We understand and are strongly connected with the venture capital circle. Through the community, we can help entrepreneurs connect with the right investors and founders to achieve efficient resource docking. The aggregation of knowledge, the high level of mutual trust in business, and the opening of a black box for the industry make entrepreneurship easier.
beSUCCESS' latest venture: Founder Club
About Founder Club:
Founder Club is an elite group consisting of revolutionary startups working in the Artificial Intelligence industry who are hand-picked by our team of experts and mentored to make it big. These are the companies working on cutting edge products and solutions using AI which can solve some of the biggest probems faced by mankind. With Artificial Intelligence impacting human life like never before and finding applications in virtually every field, these are the startups which have the potential to become the next unicorns.
If you're an entrepreneur, an innovator, or a startup founder, here's your chance to join a unique and exclusive program specially curated to help you succeed. Founder Club is a private membership club for founders designed to provide members with international business development opportunities. In addition, Founder Club boasts of like-minded people from different industries, helping to facilitate networking opportunities, connections, and much more. Get mentored by some of the most well-known VC's from around the globe with the goal to secure much-needed funding. Your success defines our success and we tirelessly work with our members to help them achieve their goals internationally.
Success Stories from our initiative support
- Global Brain VC invested in Korean Moblie analytic company, 5Rocks (2013) ➔ Acquired by Tapjoy (2014)
- Strong Ventures invested in Korean bitcoin exchange, Korbit (2014) ➔ Acquired by Nexon (2017)
- 500 Startups invested in Mykoon (2014) ➔ Mykoon pivoted the product into the internet-radio service Spoon Radio and has raised a $17m funding round (2018)
- Bluepoint Partners invested in subscription service providing dog product, Bacon Box (2018)
- Silicon Valley angel investor invested in visual collaboration service, Beecanvas (2019)
- Sparklabs invested in IoT radar technology, Bitsensing (2019)
- Sparklabs Ventures, TBT and Bon Angels invested in Taxi ride-sharing service, Banban Taxi (2019)
- The published article from KoreaTechDesk about Korean art-blockchain project ARTBLOC has been successfully spread out around the globe. Over 20 international publications wrote about ARTBLOC and over 300 times twitter mentions (2019)
What to expect from Founder Club
Grow Your Network - From a large pool of mentors, find your top 3-5 mentors who will be committed to helping you with product development, market fit, and will also provide valuable introductions to help quickly grow your company.
Gain Traction - Go deeper with your lead mentors, work with your Managing Director, gain traction and hit your milestones – whether that’s a prototype, building out the next phase of your product, finding your first customer or hitting key revenue goals.
Accelerate Your Business - Determine your fundraising strategy and prepare to meet with investors. Learn how to communicate your vision and prepare to meet with investors, partners and other key stakeholders who can help shape your future.
Connections - Thanks to our massive network, startups can build relationships and partnerships that wouldn’t be possible at their stage without Founder Club. Need an intro to a customer? Early access to a new platform feature? Stuck at the border? Our network will provide guidance and support to resolve these questions. Our network is your network.
Demo Day - The program culminates with a celebration at Demo Day! This is your chance to show the world how much progress you’ve made in just a few months.
More Benefits in detail
- [Expert Feedback/Advise] Unlimited access to "beSUCCESS Media Group Industry Expert Connections"
- [International Business Development] Unlimited requests of ad-hoc support (e.g. sharing of buyer's list, connections, etc.)
- [Digital Marketing (PR)] Unlimited requests of custom-written press pitches and PR campaigns run by our team of PR experts
- Social Gatherings (once a year) where beSUCCESS connections (VCs, Corporates, Governments, Startups, Foundations etc.) meet each other in a private event and network
- Access to all exclusive articles of AsiaTechDaily about Investors' insights and founders' startup growth experiences.
- Access to all exclusive webinars of AsiaTechDaily about education series for product's growth.
- Club members have a unique identification, AsiaTechDaily website publishes and displays each project brief (300 words)
In order to ensure the exclusivity of the club, only 10 memberships will be open for this period. The membership service will be valid for one year. After the registration is successful, we will review it within 7 working days and post approval our team will contact you.
beSUCCESS Media Group Connections
Professor Steve Cervantes is an associate professor in the Department of International Trade at Konkuk University. Prior to joining Konkuk University in September 2005, he held many media and think-tank positions throughout Asia. For the last few years, Professor Cervantes has been highly active in the Korean media where he has written on diverse startup fields such as: Education in the 4th Industrial Revolution, Commercialization of Korean Universities, The Creative Economy etc.
He knows how to manage an early-stage enterprise and what kind of support a startup essentially needs initially. With over 15 years of work experience, Homan Yuen has a lot to share about a range of technologies, management, finance, and investor activities. Homan Yuen is a Partner at Fusion Fund, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on being the first institutional capital into innovative companies with a technology barrier to their business models.
Homan’s current company Fusion Fund has a portfolio of 50 companies. Prior to Fusion Fund, he was the Co-Founder, CTO, and Director of Solar Junction Corp. (acquired 2014), a company which produced and sold world-record solar products to the terrestrial and satellite markets. He frequently advises start-ups on strategy, operations, and fundraising. Homan received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and his B.A. in Physics from the UC Berkeley.
Michael Chou is a leading investor in everything internet and technology. Currently he leads the Technology Capital Solutions fund at The Riverside Company, a global investment firm with over $8 billion in assets under management. Prior to joining Riverside, Mr. Chou was the Founder and Managing Partner of Day View Capital Management, where the strategy for Technology Capital Solutions originated. Previously, Mr. Chou was a Partner at Harmony Partners, a founding member of Revolution Growth, and a technology investment banker at Perella Weinberg and Barclays. Mr. Chou holds an AB in Economics from Princeton University and was a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree in 2016 for venture capital.
Investing in people is what drives Ryan Wang, the Co-founder and General Partner of Outpost Capital, a leading, cross-border, early-stage, venture fund based in San Francisco and Beijing.
His multicultural background, a successful career track record and his personal interest in becoming a world explorer take Ryan across the USA and the world for investing in interesting startups. He lives in San Francisco but travels frequently to LA, NYC, Seattle, and China. Ryan oversees companies in the US and greater China with solid insights and strong connections in both markets.
Ryan’s main area of investment is in VR/AR, Blockchain (Equity and Pre-ICO), new frontier technology (Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, Drones/Robotics, Lightfield), Gaming/Esports, new Media& Entertainment companies.
Ryan is also Chief Business Officer of MOAC Blockchain, a high-performance multi-layered public blockchain.
Prior to OutpostVC, Ryan was a Venture Partner at CLI Ventures managing its TMT investment arm with over $200M AUM. His earlier career days were working as an investment banker at Citigroup and Societe Generale in New York City.
He also mentors at the Launch Academy, a top startup hub based in Vancouver, Canada. Ryan is also coaching a few startup teams at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) in Singapore, under the Startup Case Challenge (SCC) program at Nanyang Technopreneurship Center.
Besides a high-profile career, Ryan wears many other hats literally considering his avid interest in collecting hats. He also enjoys snowboarding, sci-fi stuff and is a Dota 2 player and also an MMA student.
In Sik Rhee, founding partner at the Venture Capital firm Vertex Ventures, US, has a strong association with technology starting from when he got his first computer as a 12-year-old boy. The hobbyist turned technologist turned investor taught himself coding using computer magazines from the local library. Rhee eventually evolved his adoration of technology into an educational pursuit by majoring in EECS at the University of California at Berkeley. An internship with Microsoft and a stint at a startup GeoWorks, got him interested to the startup ecosystem.
Rhee then worked with the Silicon Valley startup Approach and then at IBM. In 1995 he formed Kiva software with two other engineers from IBM. The company was acquired by Netscape in 1997 for $180 million. In 1999, he formed Loudcloud, with Ben Horowitz, Marc Andreessen, Tim Howes and the then young prodigy Jonathan Heiliger. Loudcloud was running the infrastructure operations of entities like Nike, Adidas, Royal Mail, Fox News, Fox Sports, USA Today, and many others. After a rollercoaster ride of a 2001 IPO and subsequent pivot/restart as Opsware, it was acquired by HP for $1.6 billion in 2007.
With two successful entrepreneurial ventures under his belt, Rhee initially took the steps to become an angel investor and a fund investor in 2000. In his stint as an investor, he worked with prominent firms such as Benchmark (investor in Opsware) and Lightspeed and later took full time roles at Accel and Rembrandt.
In 2014, he reconnected with Jonathan Heiliger to form Vertex Ventures in the US. Vertex has operated a family of separate fund across Southeast Asia, China and Israel. Rhee’s fundamental investment thesis spans across software infrastructure, data management, analytics, and data science.
He also serves as an Executive Advisory Board member for the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, and an advisor for the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
Ravi Mulugu, the engineer turned investor, is a Senior Investment Director at UL Ventures, the Venture arm of UL. He focuses on early-stage venture investments related to Cybersecurity and Industrial Internet of Things. Before joining UL, Ravi worked at Next47 (Siemens Venture Capital) where he invested in growth stage startups in Smart Grid, Industrial IoT and Analytics.”
Ravi’s professional experience includes working in both the solar and wind energy industries in various technical and managerial roles. Before joining Siemens Venture Capital, Ravi worked at SunPower Corp. as a Product Manager responsible for utility-scale solar inverters and plant control software. Prior to that, Ravi was a consultant at Siemens Power Systems Consulting Group where he conducted techno-economic studies for electric utilities and renewable project developers. Earlier in his career, Ravi worked at GE Wind Energy where he was responsible for various electrical subsystems within the 1.5 MW wind turbine. Ravi received a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
He is an entrepreneur, seed investor and international venture capitalist with over 15 years of experience in Silicon Valley. Jai Choi has invested in over 100+ early stage companies since the inception of Tekton, a company he co-founded. Jai has led Tekton’s significant investment ventures including Coupang, Memebox, Frontier Car Group, Toss, Signifyd, Korbit, Bugcrowd, Hyperloop One, Outdoorsy, etc.
Jai is also Venture Partner for Partech Ventures, one of the largest U.S.-European venture capital firms with offices in San Francisco, Paris, and Berlin. Before Tekton Ventures, Jai was a partner with Ignite Ventures, a venture fund and advisory group with limited partners from major Asia-based technology conglomerates.
A graduate from the University of Southern California, Jai started his career in management consulting at PA Consulting Group, working for major telecom and energy companies. Jai was an early employee at OnePage Software, a content personalization platform acquired by Sybase in 2001. He previously co-founded On-Air Networks in 1997, an online radio company acquired by Loudeye (Nokia).
Rocio Wu has her focus clear on consumer internet and deep tech investments. She works at the Liquid 2 Ventures, a leading seed-stage fund founded by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and two entrepreneurs Mike Miller (Cloudant acquired by IBM) and Michael Ma (TalkBin acquired by Google).
Rocio has extensive operating experience in Product Strategy, Growth, and Corporate Development with Google and Amazon across the Europe, Asia, and US offices.
She helped launch Kindle in China in 2013 and spearheaded the Android product launch in emerging markets in 2016. She is also an angel investor and advisor to early-stage companies at YC, 500 Startups, Women Startup Labs. In addition, she is actively involved in Harvard’s Technology Strategy Initiatives writing case studies and articles. Rocio holds a B.A. from Shanghai International Studies University (exchange at Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain) and attended Harvard Business School.
Rocio Wu has a truly global perspective. Born in Shanghai, she has lived in Colombia, Spain, Japan, and the US, She had the luxury of growing up and enjoying the value in cultural contrasts.
Amrit Saxena has been part of the startup ecosystem for more than a decade now and has his focus on Artificial Intelligence enterprises. He is the founder & CEO of SaxeCap, which is an AI-focused IP development and investment firm. His company works with large PE funds to drive EBITDA expansion through AI & automation technologies and invests in data, AI, and enterprise software startups in the Silicon Valley primarily, but he is open to investing in Korean shores.
Prior to starting his company, Amrit founded and scaled Stella.ai, a talent sourcing automation company, to over 150 large enterprise clients (including 10% of the Fortune 500) and founded and sold Fancy That, a retail AI company, to Palantir. Amrit previously worked at Bain, Palantir, Groupon, AmEx, and e2e Analytics, taught and researched AI at Stanford & MIT, and was a United States National Math and Physics Olympiad finalist.
He received his B.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence and M.S. in Management Science & Engineering with a concentration in Operations Research, both from Stanford University with distinction.
This investor believes in big data, machine learning and domain agnostic, including but not limited to data-driven health, consumer software and hardware, drone services, and enterprise services. Dr. Sue Xu, the Managing Partner at Amino Capital, is a knowledge bank with startups and can share resourceful information with entrepreneurs.
Since 2012, she has been involved with over 100 investments, such as Assemblage (acquired by Cisco), Orbeus (acquired by Amazon), Woomoo (acquired by Priceline), Contastic (acquired by SugarCRM), Human Longevity Inc, Skycatch, and is providing advisory to several fast-growing portfolio startups. Besides Amino Capital she was interim CEO of CandyHouse.
Dr. Sue Xu began her early stage entrepreneurship when she was the founding scientist of GlycoMira (also involved in undergrad and Ph.D. laboratory spin-offs). She has three patents and over 20 journal publications, and previously was a Postdoc fellow at Stanford University.
Akul Penugonda began his career journey as a software engineer and product management professional before embarking on the venture capital route. He has held various positions in both fields and is now heading sourcing at Acceleprise, a pre-seed B2B accelerator. Acceleprise has backed over 100 companies and has programs in both San Francisco and New York City.
Akul is essentially the East Coast boy, who moved to the west to explore potential as an investor by joining Acceleprise. Before Acceleprise, Akul worked in Yext, a large SaaS company in New York and was part of Google Lunar Xprize team at CMU headed by Red Whittaker. Akul is a graduate with a B.S. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
Corporate and startup innovation has been a key theme throughout her career. Wendy Lung, the managing director for IBM Ventures, has been a key person in building up a healthy base for many startups.
As leader of IBM Ventures, Wendy’s mission is to seek external innovation for IBM and its clients through worldwide engagement with VCs and their portfolio companies. By collaborating with the venture and startup communities, she drives early insights into IBM’s strategy development and expands the ecosystem and acquisition pipeline for IBM platforms.
She is a frequent advisor to Fortune 500 clients on their innovation and ecosystem initiatives. She built IBM’s Net Generation business in Asia, focused on internet startups and service providers and later created and launched IBM Global Entrepreneur, IBM’s first partner program for early stage startups. Today, her focus is driving ecosystem development across IBM strategic initiatives, including Cognitive, Cloud, Security, Blockchain, and IoT. Previously, she led marketing for IBM Telecommunication industry worldwide and for
the Retail and Wholesale Distribution industries in North America. She started her career in competitive sales in the small and medium business market.
Wendy has been a speaker at industry events, including Silicon Valley Forum,
International Business Forum, Hult International Business School, SVC Wireless, Global Corporate Venturing, and Innovation Summit, and National Venture Capital Association.
Having been an immigrant himself, he understands the problems faced by many immigrant startup founders and hence he founded Unshackled.
Nitin Pachisia has the credit of being the founding partner of Unshackled Ventures, the only early-stage venture capital fund designed specifically for immigrant-founded startups in the US. The fund leads investments at the earliest stages, often pre-product, working alongside founders from day 0. Besides investing capital, Unshackled provides complete immigration solution to portfolio founders, including employment and visa sponsorship. Before starting Unshackled Ventures, Nitin founded an experiential e-commerce company, ran finance and strategy for ed-tech startup Kno (acquired by Intel) that raised over $90M of funding from top VCs, and worked at Deloitte, focusing on tech startups and helping them with growth, exits, and strategic initiatives.
Nitin has appeared on NBC, NPR, CCTV, has been featured in various publications including Forbes, WSJ, Financial Times, Techcrunch, CNN, and has been an op-ed contributor in the Huffington Post and ReCode. Nitin is actively engaged as a mentor or otherwise at Stanford University, Babson, Alchemist Accelerator, GTWY, Founder Institute, among others.
Being an immigrant himself and having founded startups while on a visa in the US, Nitin understands the venture resources immigrant founders need, besides capital. He is focused on making sure that immigrant founders are not slowed down by immigration in their pursuit of building companies and creating jobs in America.
He is one of Silicon Valley’s foremost experts in growth and network effects. James Currier, a four-time CEO of VC-backed companies, including Tickle (acq Monster), WonderHill (acq Kabam), Iron Pearl (acq PayPal) and Jiff (acq Castlight), is a pioneer of user-generated models, viral marketing, A/B testing, crowdsourcing, and myriad other growth techniques that have since been adopted by nearly all technology companies, including LinkedIn and Facebook.
In 2015, James co-founded NFX, a $150M early-stage venture capital firm focused on network effect businesses along with Pete Flint and Gigi Levy Weiss. You can read his world-leading analysis of network effects and growth at www.nfx.com/essays.
He is an engineer who has grown into a prolific investor supporting several high technology startup companies in Silicon Valley. Matthew Papakipos has been a hardcore engineer working his way up through prestigious companies like NVIDIA, Google and Facebook. He joined NVIDIA in 1997 to design GPUs and led several development projects as well as GPU-related development. At that time, NVIDIA was the company that had just opened in 1993.
Papakipos established the company Peakstream, that developed software environments for multi-core processors and GPUs. The company was funded by Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Foundation Capital. Papakipos was the CTO of the company, which was eventually acquired by Google in 2007. Papakipos then joined Google to lead Chrome OS development and later Facebook where he led a range of projects to connect more deeply into users’ daily lives.
He has a successful career in all fields of development, start-up, and investment. Despite being an engineer, Matthew’s talent is not limited to technology. He has mastered all stages of the startup growth including financing, hiring, product specification, hardware and software architecture, engineering management, product positioning and launch, evangelism, and press.
As an investor, he is actively investing not only in tech start-ups but also in women-related businesses such as women-led venture capital companies. He has also lived in Korea for one year in 2018 and invested in Korean startups.
His mantra for work is to solve problems that seem impossible to others. He has proven to be a successful manager working with small teams as well as up to 85 people for both hardware and software projects.
Matthew has invested in a number of public and private markets, with a handful as angel investments every year with specific companies.
Some of his recent investments include investing broadly in global public stock markets, investing in women: female founders, female venture capitalists, investing in technology startups with founders who are underrepresented minorities. Matthew has invested in South Korean startup companies based in Seoul. He likes investing in clean energy: solar, wind, batteries, etc.
Michelle Suteja is a noted venture capitalist and has robust experience and expertise in mentoring the ever-changing startup ecosystem. Before she set out on her venture capital journey, Michelle has mentored several startups and budding entrepreneurs and helped them become successful.
Michelle graduated in 2009 from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics with an International Business & Trade degree. She started her entrepreneurship career in Shanghai back in 2005
She started her career in the technology sector in 2013 when she founded e-commerce startup, travel, and marketplace for financial products.
Michelle Suteja mentored at the Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI) and Purwadhika Startup School. In 2015, she began her venture capital journey when she took a position at Monk’s Hill Ventures. Following that, she became the growth consultant/director of business development for many prominent startups.
Michelle was appointed as the director at PT Central Capital Ventura on June 13, 2017, and the successful stint still continues.
Read on to know more about her views on the overall startup ecosystem and how to be successful.
What background and domain expertise do you have? What makes you turn into an investor?
Michelle Suteja: My background is mostly in investment, strategy, business development, and B2B sales. I have various experiences building startup companies and running different businesses throughout the years whether it be smaller companies or corporate, mentoring startup, consulting for growth companies. Having been an entrepreneur and having various experiences has to lead me to be an investor, where I think I can be very useful for the startup companies in understanding their journey and what it takes to win.
As an investor, what kind of startups have you invested in? How did you find those startups to invest in?
Michelle Suteja: In my current role, startups that we invested in are in the FinTech space. So far, we have invested in 12-14 FinTech companies, ranging from p2p lending, insurance tech, deep tech, A.I. & machine learning, remittance, etc. These companies are from our own network, mainly startups reaching out to us, referrals from VC companies and friends.
What would be the core factors that you decide “Not” to invest in certain companies?
Michelle Suteja: Founder attitude, bad company culture & no product market fit are some of the core factors. It takes a certain type of attitude, culture, and understanding of their business to build a great company.
What would be the KPI that you usually check about the startups’ growth? It may diverse in each industry like LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. but would be helpful to understand more about your additional investment factors.
Michelle Suteja: In terms of startups growth, each startup will have different KPIs to pay attention to. I do focus on the unit economics and growth of the company.
What is the investment range and In a typical year, how many startups do you invest in? And S.Korea headquartered startups have a chance to get investment from you or should be headquartered in certain countries?
Michelle Suteja: The investment range usually from 500k – 2 million USD. Last year, we invested in 12 companies. In terms of investment criteria, we do invest globally in startups that focus on FinTech and have an Indonesian play.
Can you list one company that you have passed (rejected) investment before but think you should have invested in that company. If there is any, why do you think you have missed that investment opportunity?
Michelle Suteja: We don’t disclose any rejected investment.
What are the main factors that startups fail as per your experience after getting investment and how can they prevent mistakes in advance from your personal perspective?
Michelle Suteja: There are 3 main factors that would be the biggest problem for a startup. Weak company culture, founders dynamic, and scalability. It is very important to have a clear company structure that allows the business to be flexible, data-driven and quick farm to table (from customer insight to changes)
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs who have a chance to meet investors like you? and What are the top 3 questions that you always ask the founders?
Michelle Suteja: Always be prepared, know your numbers and where you are heading, be honest about what you know and what you don’t. The 3 questions are, why are you building this business, what is your market size, and I spend time to dig into their financials.
What’s your general thought about the term “Global” and What are the important factors (criteria) for Korean startups to consider for international expansion?
Michelle Suteja: Having people on the ground to build a global business is very important. Every market has its uniqueness and limitations, where only when you are local and on the ground, you’d be able to see and understand.
As you know, our company name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an investor or as an individual human being?
Michelle Suteja: Being a successful founder/investor is being able to understand and admit our own capability and limitation. I find people oversee this point a lot, when one can fundraise, that is not an ultimate goal of success, it is a start of the process of deep relationship whether it be your LP or investors. They entrust your vision and capability to manage a business and the company, so the question remains is how one is able to deepen that trust.
When we build companies and start managing people, we also need to realize that these colleagues entrust their livelihood & family livelihood to you, believing and building your vision day in and day out, so how are we suppose to treat them. How are we able to manage all of these? How do we treat people? How do we build a great culture? How do we always grow as an individual to know that we are worthy as an investor, entrepreneur, colleague, son/daughter, father/mother? These are questions that are very unique to each individual. Fundamentally, being able to have and manage vulnerability, empathy, compassion, understanding and so on, are very key to build a successful self and ultimately company.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Michelle Suteja: Carpe diem. I take this attitude in life, so I have no regret. If I could go back, I would do the same thing over. My life has taught me a lot about hardship, friendship, how to manage anger/disappointment, how to give without expectations, how to be humble and so on. I feel lucky to have experienced a lot at a very young age, to understand what I am, where I came from, and what I want to be.
When you have a chance to come to Korea next time, what kind of Korean entrepreneurs and startups you want to meet?
Michelle Suteja: We only invest in FinTech, so I would love to meet FinTech companies with a great founder who has a global vision and ability to execute what they envision.
You can follow Michelle Suteja here.
Are you looking to secure investment for your startup or a keen startup enthusiast, keep an eye on our interview section.
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Mr. Peter Mao is a co-founder and partner of Panda Capital. He is a seasoned investor with over 12 years of experience in the venture capital and technology. Prior to Panda Capital, Peter was a Vice President at Qiming Venture Partners where he led several successful investments.
Peter’s areas of expertise include artificial intelligence, robotics, enterprise services, logistics, transportation, and internet consumer. His portfolio includes Face++, UniSound, Qiniu Cloud, Antwork, Roborock, Insta360, Mobike, Atzuche, and LoveCycle, etc. Peter was also heavily involved on the deal team and portfolio management of Xiaomi, Xiaoyi, Intelligent Automation and FraudMetrix during his tenure at Qiming Venture Partners.
Peter was chosen as “40 Business Elites Under 40” by Fortune China and “40 Investors Under 40” by CYZONE in 2017, and “Top 30 China Early Stage Investor” by China Venture in 2018.
He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Jilin University and a M.B.A. from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. He is currently completing his Executive Education in the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Preserve wealth or create wealth? Bá believes there's a third option. Apart from wealth preservation and wealth creation, there is wealth redefinition. This is a transformative move. Bá's vision is neither to merely preserve wealth nor to pursue outsized gains - let alone incremental change - within the system. Instead Bá's aim is to change the wealth game; with UMANA Family we will have wealth redefined.
Bá is the founder of BABEL Ventures, the first venture firm in Silicon Valley with a Latina founder and sole GP. She has been lauded by mainstream publications for "breaking all the rules" and "rocking male-dominated Silicon Valley." BABEL's first fund is an early-stage biotech fund. Bá is also the cofounder and general partner of Ausum Ventures, with its first fund being a hybrid hedge and venture crypto fund focused on social change through blockchain technology.
Bá is a former real-estate entrepreneur and financial advisor to ultra high-net-worth families in Brazil. She has single-handedly raised over $250M for real estate and high tech companies in Latin America and the United States and has co-managed over $200M in assets
Dr. Finian Tan is a Singapore based venture capitalist. He is the founder and Chairman of a renowned international venture capital firm, Vickers Venture Partner. The company has its presence in Singapore, New York, Shanghai, San Diego, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and San Francisco.
Dr. Tan has played major roles in many of Vicker’s portfolio companies. Before he joined Vicker Venture Partner, he was Managing Director and head of CSFB (Credit Suisse First Boston) group of banks in Malaysia and Singapore. Prior to working with CSFB, Dr. Tan has also served as Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson Eplanet, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. He was in charge of their Asia Pacific operations. During his tenure he discovered Baidu which was a small startup with no revenue and just one customer, however, he led all investment rounds into Baidu, and remained its biggest backer until IPO.
During his early career stage, Dr. Tan has also worked with Goldman Sachs for a period of three years, as a Vice President at J.Aron and Co. (Singapore) and then moved on to become Regional Director and Head of the company. He has also served Singapore Government as the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Dr. Finian Tan obtained his Doctorate degree from Cambridge University. He received the Shell Scholarship and was the first Singaporean to receive the award. He has also been the President of the Cambridge University Singapore and Malayan Society and also represented the university in Squash. Dr. Tan received his B.SC degree in engineering from the University of Glasgow.
Read on to know more about Dr. Finian Tan’s journey so far as a venture capitalist, his investment strategies and philosophy.
What background and domain expertise do you have? And what made you decide to become an investor?
Dr. Finian Tan: I received my PhD in Engineering from Cambridge University. After graduating I worked with the university’s engineering department as an Assistant Director of Research and then returned to Singapore. I first pursued a career in oil trading with Shell in Singapore and Japan before joining Goldman Sachs in Singapore.
In 1997, I was asked to join the Singapore government as Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. That was an eye-opener for me and also a first for the country – as it marked the first time that Singapore had appointed someone from the private sector at that level. Part of my role was to help turn Singapore into the Silicon Valley of the East.
I made three recommendations: a US$1 billion fund to jump-start the VC industry; building a science hub; and forming an inter-ministry committee to change rules and regulations to allow startups to thrive.
The cabinet approved all three strategies and made me the chairman of these initiatives. That brought me naturally to VC which is essential in terms of driving start-ups and innovation. I fell in love with it because the industry combines tech and finance. This was perfect on account of my finance background with Goldman Sachs and my tech training at Cambridge. As such it was a combination of my education, my professional background and my time in government that helped me develop the perspectives and insights which help develop a long-term vision and to invest in startups that are trying to change the world.
It must have been challenging for you when you raised your first and second funds, while still being a young VC. Could you share some of these challenges with me?
Dr. Finian Tan: After finishing my stint with the government, I became a founding partner for Asia at a famous Silicon Valley firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and ePlanet Ventures. My first investment was US$7.5 million into a young startup called Baidu in China. Five years later, it debuted on Nasdaq as the best performing IPO in the index’s history till date.
At the time of the stock market launch, we owned 28.1 percent of the search engine. This was more than Baidu’s co-founder and CEO Robin Li’s stake of 5.8 percent. Today, Baidu has more than 300 million users and is worth around US$40 billion. I would like to say that we played an important role in Baidu’s growth, with its co-founder Eric Xu stating, “Without Finian’s decision to invest in Baidu and support the company, it would not have been this successful.”
Inspired by Baidu’s success and that of the entire Asian portfolio, I started my own firm, Vickers Venture Partners, with an initial fund of only US$9 million. Initially, it was hard to get traction because we were a startup ourselves and people tend to invest in known names. However, we pushed on and grew to where we are today – that is, having US$3 billion under management and attaining a Preqin rank of being the 7th ‘most-consistent performer in the world’. On top of that, our Fund IV is the best performing fund of its vintage globally.
The main reason for our success has been our ability to attract really good people to join us. Particularly, my partner Dr. Khalil Binebine, whom I consider my alter ego, complements me well and vice versa. I am a left-brain sort of person, preferring to focus on the scientific while Khalil is right-brain oriented, very creative and an all-round people person. Other partners also complement both of us in a variety of ways – making a complete team.
As an investor, what kind of startups have you invested in? How did you find them?
Dr. Finian Tan: We look at risks from three separate perspectives: technology – does the technology work?; IP – who owns the IP and can it be protected?; market appetite – will people buy it?
However, we do not look at all three risks at once. We try to isolate just one risk – preferably technology over market. This is because it is hard for us to predict buying decisions, while we have a team that is technically trained, comprising eight doctors or doctorates with experience across different verticals, so we are able to competently assess whether a technology solution will work.
Our result? Less than a third of our portfolio are failures, while we have averaged homerun pool deliveries at 16x.
At first, we had to work hard to generate our deal flow as we hadn’t made a name for ourselves yet. It became easier over time as we grew in stature, and today deals come to us because we are one of the oldest and largest VCs in our region. This is what VCs call the ‘halo effect’ – VCs that perform will climb the ranks and attract the best deals and will, in turn, keep them performing well for a long time. It is something unique to our ecosystem, as VCs can remain in the top quartile for five decades.
What would be the core factors behind your decision to not invest in certain companies?
Dr. Finian Tan: We consider ourselves deep-tech investors. We invest in macro technologies that have undisputed exponential growth potential – such as AI, nanotechnology, regenerative medicine and the likes, rather than looking at linear growth potential, for example, lithium battery technology. We also invest in geographical trends, such as the growth of demand in Asia. We try not to be distracted by ‘noise’, meaning companies that do not meet the above criteria.
A good example of a recent deal is RWDC, a biodegradable plastics alternative startup operating in Singapore and Georgia, US. RWDC matches our three criteria: they are in a known market where demand is near unlimited, a strong IP lead and limited technological risk. We are very excited about it, as we believe that it will become one of Singapore’s largest companies and even the largest of its kind globally.
What are the startup growth KPIs that you usually check? It may be diverse in each industry – such as LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. – but it would be helpful to understand more about your other investment factors.
Dr. Finian Tan: We prefer to invest with the current, rather than against it – meaning that we always pick sunrise industries rather than sunset ones. Additionally, we focus on the undisputed technology megatrends as mentioned above, so we prefer to invest in those areas.
As for KPIs, we look at them as milestones that prove the hypothesis. For example, if it is a technology bet, we will look at KPIs that show that tech milestones are being met. If it is a demand bet, then we would like to see demand milestones that show growth by leaps and bounds.
What is your investment range and how many startups do you typically invest in annually? Also, do overseas headquartered startups have a chance to get investment from you? Or should they be headquartered in certain countries?
Dr. Finian Tan: We see about 6,000 deals per year and invest in 10-15 of them. Most of the deals we receive are via our network and we have a team to filter the deal flow. We have seven offices worldwide – Singapore, Silicon Valley, New York, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur – as we believe that technology is global. Our typical investment size is US$10 million upon first investment and, for those that track their expected progress, we may follow up by as much as 20 percent of the US$500 million fund (or a maximum of US$100 million per deal).
We do also bring in co-investors alongside our funds, so we can add in more than US$100 million into a single company. This was what we did with our largest investee, Samumed, which is based in San Diego, California. Dr. Binebine is also based there and has helped Samumed raise over US$700 million so far.
Based on your experience, what are the main reasons that startups fail after receiving investment? And how can they prevent mistakes in advance?
Dr. Finian Tan: Failure is an integral part of the VC investment process and although our failure rate is under half (28 percent) of the industry average, we strive to reduce it even further. However, as we can only lose 1x on a company that fails and we can receive 16x return from a homerun investment, it is really the size of the homerun pool that provides the real difference in performance. We used to have an average of 30 percent homeruns, but this rate has gradually been increasing, which is very encouraging. Moving forward, our target is to have homeruns comprise 50 percent of our funds.
Overall, there is no one common reason as to why startups fail. Russian author Leo Tolstoy posited a similar analogy in his novel Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
What is your advice to entrepreneurs who have a chance to meet investors like you and what are the top three questions that you always ask the founders?
Dr. Finian Tan: When an entrepreneur is able to meet us, it means that s/he has already passed all our filters and that his/her startup has met all the criteria I mentioned earlier – technology with strong IP ownership, a known market and a growth potential of at least 10x.
There is no standard set of questions that I ask entrepreneurs, since every business is different. Basically, our intent is to understand the startups’ unique value proposition and how their solutions can change the world. Sometimes, it takes a bit of time for us to get comfortable with an idea, but we would rather spend more time before spending money. We invite the companies to our homes, sometimes over several days, so that both parties can get to know each other well – which we see as fundamental to the partnership for the long-term.
What is your general thought about the term ‘global’ and what are the important factors for local startups considering international expansion?
Dr. Finian Tan: Some companies can scale globally but not all companies need to be global to succeed. For example, one of our Singapore-based companies, MatchMove, which provides an operating system for e-wallets, is already the top third-party operating system in India and is now focused on expanding into Indonesia and other developing countries. We expect to conduct an IPO for MatchMove, which we see as achieving unicorn status in a few years. Additionally, KPIsoft, a Malaysian company we invested in, is now headquartered in the US and has customers from the Americas, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and beyond.
The key – for startups – is to scale wherever there is a demand for the product and to be ‘big’ enough to command interest from large investors in an IPO. For that, they need to look at achieving unicorn status.
As you know, our company’s name is beSUCCESS, what is your definition of the term ‘success’ – both as an investor and as an individual?
Dr. Finian Tan: When people ask me this question, I group my answers into three: the health of all my loved ones; my relationship with my loved ones; and work, which includes both Vickers Ventures and the foundation that my wife Fiona and I started last year.
Workwise, things are going very well; we have gone beyond what I had originally envisaged for our company at this stage of our development. We are especially excited about the world-changing companies that we have in our portfolio and are negotiating to include shortly.
Samumed, which I mentioned above, is one such company, as we believe it can truly revolutionise the world of restorative medicine. Meanwhile, SiSaf – a drug delivery company based in London – has strong potential in improving the efficacy and toxicity risk of many drugs and therapies for all of us. Additionally, Shenzhen-based Simo Wireless has the potential to change the world of wireless connectivity for all mobile phones and connected devices. Finally, AgilePQ, which is based in Utah, US, can help make security of IoT devices affordable yet more secure than other solutions we have seen before.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back 10 years?
Dr. Finian Tan: It is hard to do that, because if we really could go back in the past and improve things, it may not just impact that particular event, but also alter other factors that have happened which have been instrumental to our successes. A butterfly effect, if you will.
Hence, my mantra is not to fret over things that have already happened or what we cannot change. Instead, we must look forward and improve through the lessons learnt – in terms of both successes and failures.
When you travel internationally, what kind of entrepreneurs and startups (in certain industries) would you like to meet?
Dr. Finian Tan: I enjoy meeting visionaries who seek to positively impact the world. Vickers Venture Partners has been fortunate, as quite a few of them have chosen to partner with us. We are therefore extremely excited about the 2020s, as we expect to see many of these visionaries turn their ideas into reality over the next decade.
You can follow Dr. Finian Tan here.
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Adrian is Founder & Managing Partner at Convergence Ventures, an early stage Indonesia focused technology venture capital fund with a portfolio of 30+ businesses. Previously, he co-founded several ventures in China and Indonesia.
Adrian’s 1st Internet venture was Idapted where as CEO & cofounder he raised 2 rounds of venture financing and led the company to be the largest live 1:1 online English test preparation service in China. Idapted was acquired by Eleutian in 2011. He then joined Rocket Internet as a Managing Director where he worked on new technology ventures in China and South East Asia. At the end of 2014 he launched Convergence Ventures.
Adrian is also involved in non-profit work. He founded and chairs a UK Charity called CNYTrust, which supports children in rural China continue schooling. He is a business mentor at several organisations including Endeavour, Founders Institute and Antler. He has served on the board of Entrepreneurs Organisation is several roles including Beijing Chapter President and Regional Communications Director. He is also a member of Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) in Indonesia.
Adrian graduated from Cambridge University with a BA and MA in Economics and was elected a Hawk in recognition of his contributions to University and National level Judo. He obtained his MBA from Stanford while studying in the dual degree MBA & Education MA program and is currently enrolled in the Tsinghua OBOR EMBA program. He is a Kauffman Fellow in Class 21. He speaks Mandarin and English fluently and is proficient in Cantonese and basic Bahasa.
Adrian is a sponsored endurance athlete and ranked in top 5% in his age group for Ironman 70.3 distances. He has completed several marathons in New York, London, Tokyo and Beijing & triathlons including a full Ironman. Notable times are 2:32 in Bintan Intl. OD Triathlon, 5:31 in Cebu 70.3 and 13:02 in Busselton IM. He is an Ironman University Certified Triathlon Coach.
As a food and wine enthusiast, Adrian co-founded the Jakarta chapter of Intl. Wine & Food Society. Adrian has been featured in Forbes Indonesia and Prestige Indonesia's 40 under 40.
Specialties: Leadership, Start up Operations, Strategy, China & Indonesia tech, Internet and Technology, fitness and endurance training
Tan Yinglan is the CEO and Founding Managing Partner at Insignia Ventures Partners. Insignia Ventures Partners is an early stage technology venture fund focusing on Southeast Asia started in 2017 and manages capital from premier institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds, foundations, university endowments and renowned family offices from Asia, Europe and North America. Portfolio companies include Carro, Payfazz, Janio, Logivan and many other technology market leaders.
Prior to this, he was Venture Partner at Sequoia Capital where he was the first hire in Southeast Asia. Yinglan sourced multiple investment opportunities for Sequoia India including Tokopedia, Go-jek, Carousell, Appier (where he represented Sequoia on the board), Dailyhotel (where he represented Sequoia on the board), Pinkoi and 99.co.
He serves on the Singapore Government’s Pro Enterprise Panel (headed by Head of Civil Service) and the Investment Committee on Strategic Research Innovation Fund at Nanyang Technology University.
Yinglan was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012. He also serves on the WEF Technology Pioneer Selection Committee Panel (2015-2017), Young Leader by the Milken Insitute (2016), Top “40 leaders under 40” by Prestige Magazine (2015), one of 100 Leaders of Tomorrow by the St Gallen Symposium (2010), 100 Global Thinkers (2011) by think-tank Lo Spazio della Politica, a World Cities Summit Young Leader (2014), a WEF Global Agenda Council member on Fostering Entrepreneurship (2011-2013) and a Kauffman Fellow. Yinglan is the author of 3 books, namely, The Way Of the VC: Having Top Venture Capitalists On Your Board.(Wiley, 2009), Chinnovation - How Chinese Innovators are Changing the World (Wiley 2010) and textbook New Venture Creation – Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century - An Asian Perspective (Mcgraw Hill 2011). Yinglan was educated at Harvard, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon.
Sudhir Sethi is the founder and chairman of Chiratae Ventures India Advisors. Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures India) is a leading VC firm advising AUM of $ 470 M based out of Bangalore, India, with offices in Mumbai and New Delhi.
Since 1998 Sudhir and his team have advised on investments into 80+ firms across Digital Consumer, Enterprise Software, Fintech and Healthcare Sectors. Key investments include Flipkart, FirstCry, Lenskart, Policy Bazaar, Curefit, Manthan, Newgen, Nestaway, Agrostar, Yatra, Xpressbees and Mindtree Consulting amongst others.
In 2001, Sudhir was recognized by Red Herring as one of the leading venture capitalists in the country. He has been named among the Top Ten IT Professionals by Dataquest and by Bloomberg UTV as ‘’Visionary Venture Capitalist” in 2011. Sudhir has been featured in Subroto Bagchi’s book ‘’Zen Garden – Conversations with Pathmakers’’, in 2014.
In addition to leading Chiratae Ventures India Advisors, Sudhir has served on EMPEA Venture Capital Council (Emerging Markets Private Equity Association). He has served as Advisor on the Technology Innovation and Productivity Council of the GMR Group. He also served on the Executive Committee of Indian Venture Capital Association (IVCA), Investment Committee of UTI Ventures, on the Board of Ascent Capital and on the Board of Advisors at N.S. Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurship, IIM Bangalore. With over 30 years of experience, Sudhir has served at various leadership positions at HCL, Wipro and Cyient, as well as Country Head of Walden International India. Sudhir holds a B.Tech in Engineering and an MBA Degree from FMS, Delhi.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Sudhir says:
“Build a strong team and work culture, focus on achieving a product-market fit and constantly engage with customers to get insights. While interacting with founders, I typically try to identify their passion points and motivation behind starting up. I like to get their thoughts on the size of the market they are targeting, their path towards achieving a product-market fit, the scale that they are envisioning for their business and on building a right team that will drive their startup’s growth.”
Read more about Sudhir Sethi, his thoughts on the startup ecosystem, his mantra on investment, and much more.
What background and domain expertise do you have? What makes you turn into an investor?
Sudhir Sethi: A large part of my early life was influenced by multiple cultures, having traveled to about 20 countries with my father, who was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. This experience in my early years made me extremely adaptable and comfortable with uncertainty and open to global culture. After completing my graduation and MBA in Delhi, I entered the industry at an interesting time when the Indian computer industry was taking off. I got into software sales at a time when internet and software were becoming big and I worked with HCL and Wipro working in multiple roles over the years while experiencing India grow its IT services sector. I then joined Walden International as the Country head, when they were looking for someone with technology experience to lead their VC Fund in India. At that time, there were only very few of us in the venture industry including Draper International, Citi, and us. During the Walden tenure, we funded Mindtree consulting with stellar returns.
Spotting entrepreneurial talent, evaluating business plans, asking probing questions, choosing the right entrepreneur to back and helping them scale up, at a time when technology-focused Indian entrepreneurship had just started up was very exciting for me. Later in 2006, when I set out to raise capital on my own, I got the opportunity to meet Patrick McGovern who was then the chairman of IDG, a publishing behemoth. He had given me half an hour at the Oberoi in Bengaluru but the meeting lasted over two and a half hours. Later he got back and conveyed that IDG had decided to back me and my co-founder, TCM Sundaram with a $150 million commitment. That’s how the journey of Chiratae Ventures began (formerly IDG Ventures)
What kind of startups/ sectors have you invested in?
Sudhir Sethi: We focus primarily on tech-enabled disruptions across various sectors. Within the overall gamut of tech-focused companies, we categorize our investment sectors as Consumer Internet, Healthcare, Financial Services, Software, and Frontier Technologies.
Within Consumer, our portfolio with the likes of Myntra, Flipkart Lenskart, PolicyBazar, Firstcry, Curefit amongst others which capitalized on the wave of e-commerce companies and scaled grounds up to become large companies. Some of our recent investments in the consumer tech space including Bounce (mobility), Nestaway (Co-living) and Rentomojo (rentals), Healthifyme (Healhtech), POPxo (woman’s content and community) and Curefit have disrupted their categories.
Our strong thesis in software has enabled stellar investments like Uniphore and Unbxd, getting their product-market fit right in the USA and other international markets. We have also focused on companies operating in the B2B space with Bizongo perfecting the managed marketplace model in packaging and Agrostar building into India’s largest agricultural inputs marketplace. Peel-works disrupts the supply chain for FMCG to retailers.
The growing smartphone and internet penetration coupled with favorable Government intervention has created multiple FinTech models many of which are unique to the Indian ecosystem. We have gone on to invest in multiple category leaders in financial services, Policybazaar which has become the largest distributor of digital insurance in India. Early salary, which is building the de-facto personal loan provider for subprime and new-to-credit customer base of India and Vayana Networks, which is building the largest network of supply chain financing ecosystem in India.
Within healthcare, the likes of Curefit, Healthifyme, and Sigtuple are spearheading the creation of a fitness movement within the country and internationally engaging healthcare from the perspective of wholesome wellbeing of the individual. Be it developing healthy eating habits or using revolutionary breakthroughs in AI and deep learning for medical diagnostics, these companies are taking an unprecedented approach in solving some of the deepest-rooted health problems of the country.
India is introducing increasing deep technical companies. Example – include Emotix (companion consumer robotics), Playshifu (AR / VR) amongst others.
How do you find the startups to invest in?
Sudhir Sethi: In our 13 years of existence, we have interacted with over 20,000 entrepreneurs and have made around 80 investments. We have followed multiple approaches to strengthen the quality of our deal-flow. Our team members are actively involved in engaging with entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. A plethora of deals are sourced through this network that the team has established wherein most of the entrepreneurs either reach out to us through referrals or we reach out to them through connects.
We, also keep looking out for interesting sub-sectors and try to build our understanding of newer spaces persistently. As we build conviction around certain sub-spaces, we reach out to different startups who might be addressing the problem through different approaches. Our team keeps on conducting targeted strategic programs and brand building exercises to identify and capture extremely high potential companies at an early stage and invest in them.
What would be the core factors that you decide “Not” to invest in certain companies?
Sudhir Sethi: We typically engage with the founders and team to know more about their motivation and ensure a fit, do our internal research and meet industry experts to build our thesis around the market and perform extensive diligence on the business, financial and legal side before deciding on an investment. On top of this, we have an investment committee, which acts as the final layer of approval for a company.
What is Chiratae’ s Investment Strategy?
Sudhir Sethi: Our firm’s strategy has and continues to be to back “Stellar Entrepreneur’’ many of whom are increasingly serial entrepreneurs. These stellar entrepreneurs for us to invest in must build companies by addressing and solving problems endemic to India using technology.
We look at whether the start-up has the potential to dominate India and scale globally. Today 23 companies have a global footprint. We closely look at the possibility of some leading brands funded by us going IPO. Newgen and Yatra are two such companies who took the IPO route in India and the USA.
What would be the KPI that you usually check about the startups’ growth? It may diverse in each industry like LTV, CAC, MoM etc. but will be helpful to understand more about your additional investment factors.
Sudhir Sethi: We at Chiratae believe that in early-stage investing, the winning startups are created by strong and decisive leadership teams working on capital-efficient business models while targeting the large and rapidly growing domestic and global market segments. A good business model is one that is rapidly scalable, has robust unit economics that helps the company achieve leadership within a definite time frame, and complements the disruption that the venture brings vis-à-vis competition.
In our conversations with the entrepreneurs, we try to understand a gamut of these aspects and not just a few just metrics to better decide if a business would be a winner down the line. We have specific leaders for every sector and they have built a strong knowledge and network repository in their respective sectors. This helps both in the decision making as well as in helping our portfolio companies scale.
What is your typical investment range and how many startups you invest in? Can overseas headquartered startups get funding from you?
Sudhir Sethi: We advise investments across early and late stages. However, the bulk of focus lies primarily in early stages, from Seed to Series A. We have invested in over 80 companies across Consumer Internet, Healthcare, Financial Services, Software, and Deep-tech sectors. We have typically liked to support Indian entrepreneurs who are building something disruptive, either domestically or internationally from India.
What are the main factors that startups fail as per your experience “AFTER” getting investment and how can they prevent mistakes in advance from your personal perspective?
Sudhir Sethi: There are times when certain startups may not succeed. This can happen if the disruption of the market or product has not been strong enough, the scale envisioned has not been achieved or if the startup has been unable to raise follow on capital. The best way for the entrepreneurs to ensure success is by surrounding themselves with a great team and constantly interacting with customers and other market stakeholders to stay updated with the changing market realities and consumer expectations. As investors, we assist our founders by connecting them with the right set of people in the ecosystem and identifying trends that will help the company scale faster.
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs who have a chance to meet investors like you? What are the top 3 questions that you always ask the founders?
Sudhir Sethi: The advice to entrepreneurs is simple – build a strong team and work culture, focus on achieving a product-market fit and constantly engage with customers to get insights. While interacting with founders, I typically try to identify their passion points and motivation behind starting up. I like to get their thoughts on the size of the market they are targeting, their path towards achieving a product-market fit, the scale that they are envisioning for their business and on building a right team that will drive their startup’s growth.
Right after being an investor like in the early days, there must be some tough times in building up the first fund along with building up a second fund or giving back the good returns to those LPs. If there is any similar tough time like this, please tell us more about it and how you (or your team) overcome the difficult times.
Sudhir Sethi: We had raised our first fund with anchor investments of $150Mn from Patrick McGovern led IDG and Bruno Raschle, led Adveq. While we were on the brink of raising our second fund a few years later, IDG as a global conglomerate got dissolved. However, with a strong belief in my team and our investment thesis, we set out to engage with multiple domestic investors and family offices in India. We believed that domestic investors would have a strong conviction in backing Indian entrepreneurs. Today Chiratae Ventures focusses on backing stellar entrepreneurs who can build India market leaders with the potential to go global. Today we manage over $ 500 M AUM.
What’s your general thought about the term “Global” and What are the important factors (criteria) for local startups to consider for international expansion?
Sudhir Sethi: The term Global denotes opportunity. We are cognizant of the fact that India and the world is changing rapidly and at scale. We believe that entrepreneurs emerging out of India today have the aspirations and capability of tapping into the large global opportunity and disrupting the global markets. We position our orders to be the catalysts to support this entrepreneurial growth and change.
We have an ample number of examples who exist today within our portfolio, like Healthifyme, CureFit, Lenskart, Uniphore, Unbxd, Emotix, Cropin PlayShifu, Firstcry, to name a few, that started off with an India-first mindset and then took off on a global platform. This move is driven through a focus on incorporating key learnings from within the country in terms of product-market fit, envisioning the scale and pace of growth, understanding the strengths and capabilities of the team and spending time in understanding the mindset of the international consumers.
What kind of startup or tech industry will impact the world in the future like 2-3 years locally in your view?
Sudhir Sethi: If we look at India, the rapidly growing digital penetration, 300M new internet users emerging in the last few years, cheapest data prices across the globe and increase in disposable income across income sects, will in the near to mid-term, lead to the emergence of multiple whitespaces which remain untouched by technology today. As these trends kick-in, we, at Chiratae, are extremely bullish on companies addressing e-commerce for the next 500M internet users, digitizing mobility for the mass market, aggregating whitespaces in traditional fragmented B2B industries and many more evolving trends and technologies.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Sudhir Sethi: I think I would trace exactly the same path because the journey has been filled with great interactions, experiences, and learnings. Today, we at Chiratae Ventures are proud of our portfolio companies that we have worked with over the years. They have gone on to become disruptive category leaders while some have created categories of their own. They have grown exponentially over the years while adding multiple jobs in the process and creating a meaningful impact on customers across India and abroad. They have also set forth massive examples for other entrepreneurs in the ecosystem to emulate and learn from. This positive impact-driven on the overall ecosystem and society is what drives our team every day.
As you know, our company group name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an investor or as an individual human being?
Sudhir Sethi: As an investor, success would entail supporting and being a part of the growth journey of startups which go ahead with disrupting their categories and becoming market leaders. In Venture Capital, success is best measured over the years and not over months or days. It is hence important to stay patient, constantly keep learning and revising our thesis as a team and be committed to identifying and supporting the game changers in the startup ecosystem.
Who are the people who have advised you over the years?
Sudhir Sethi: The advice from our advisors Mr. Ratan Tata, Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Mr. Bruno Raschle and Mr. Manish Choksi has been key to our success. One thing I would certainly do differently is growing faster. India presents a stellar opportunity to entrepreneurs and Venturepreneurs like us go grow at an even more rapid pace.
You can follow Sudhir Sethi here.
Are you looking to secure investment for your startup or a keen startup enthusiast, keep an eye on our interview section.
Follow Asia Tech Daily to know about the innovative startups and how they are revolutionizing the ecosystem.
Building and investing in new ideas/ companies, capabilties & teams.
Senior regional P&L leader with experience in Technology, Payments/ eCommerce, SaaS and Travel
Results/execution orientation and effective cross-functional influencer/ collaborator.
Effective team builder and people developer, with personal interests in social impact and CSR.
Jackey is an entrepreneur at heart and is passionate about making positive changes.
After graduating from UC Berkeley Engineering, Jackey worked at Atmel and Microsoft in marketing and supply chain management, and founded several startups. She founded companies that tackled tough problems faced by our society – including modernizing hospital care and programming education. She launched Tickle app, the first programming platform for IoT that has inspired and empowered millions of young minds to program the real world.
On the VC/accelerator side, Jackey co-founded the largest and the most successful accelerator in Taiwan – AppWorks, showing her aspiration to develop a better startup ecosystem. Her diverse professional and startup experience helps her connect with entrepreneurs, because she understands the challenges founders face and can help them along the way.
Besides work, Jackey is into other adventurous experiences, too – from sky diving to rock climbing, snowboarding to triathlon. She has traveled and backpacked to more than 60 countries and hoped to visited every corner of the world.
A former accountant, power banker and billion dollar investment manager, Vince is using the lessons she learnt at some of the world’s most reputable firms to support radical new approaches to human capital development. At #CretaVentures, a venture capital company she co-founded with Joanna Cheung from TGN, she spearheads investment in global education technology and learning innovations. Vince is also the Co-Founder of the Chicago Booth Angels Network, which focuses on developing a venture capital intelligence base in China. She co-founded and produced the inaugural global tech investor assembly called BóLè Forum 伯乐创科论坛 in March 2019 in Hong Kong.
Between juggling her professional roles, Vince still finds time to coach Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University and advise the New Venture Challenge entrepreneurs at the University of Chicago. Her long-standing Yale alumni outreach effort has won her the Outstanding Volunteer Leadership recognition. She is the author of two career guides and is frequently invited to speak at EdTech conferences, where she advocates for far-reaching paradigm shifts in education and learning.
Professionally trained as CPA and CFA, Vince is a M.B.A. and B.Comm. graduate of the University of Toronto, Yale University and the University of Chicago.
Shelly Bell is a system disruptor and business strategist who moves ideas to profit while empowering people to live more authentically. As a cultural translator, she connects entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations in order to diversify their talent pipeline, increase equity and grow their brands.
She is what best-selling author Daniel Pink defines as “A Whole New Mind” - a Serial Entrepreneur & Computer Scientist with a background in performance poetry, K-12 Education and IP Strategy. She was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Technically DC and acknowledged as A Rising Brand Star by Adweek. She is among the nation's most sought-after transformational speakers in the DC Metro area with features in Forbes, The Washington Business Journal, NewsOne, The Afro, People of Color in Tech and on Politico Live. Her organization, Black Girl Ventures (BGV) is a social enterprise that creates access to social and financial capital for Black/Brown women founders. BGV travels the country with a disruptive pitch competition that shifts the power dynamics in funding by combining crowdfunding and pitching. As a Google Guru and Ecosystem Builder, she engages audiences from grassroots to government. Shelly has trained over 5,000 entrepreneurs, held over 300 events for empowering leaders, managed multi-million dollar contracts, and scaled over 100 businesses.
Tim Chang is a Partner at Mayfield Fund, focusing on venture capital invests in Consumer Internet, Digital Media, eCommerce/Marketplaces and Health/Wellness. He has been twice named on the Midas List of top 100 VCs. Tim led Mayfield's investments in MOAT (acquired by Oracle), Basis (acquired by Intel), Fitmob (acquired by Classpass), Ript Labs, Grove Collaborative, Massdrop, Pillow, HealthTap, 3Drobotics, and Lantern. Tim was previously a Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, where he led NVP's investment in Playdom (acquired by Disney), ngmoco (acquired by DeNA), AdChina (acquired by Alibaba), PCH International, and Lumosity. Prior to joining Norwest, Tim was a Principal at Gabriel Venture Partners, where he established and led their wireless practice, investing and joining the board of Iridigm Display (acquired by Qualcomm). He was also actively involved with the boards of Placeware (acquired by Microsoft), IPWireless (acquired by NextWave) and NextG Networks (acquired by private equity syndicate). Before entering the venture capital industry, Tim was a Product Manager at Gateway, where he launched Enterprise products into the Japanese market, and began his career as a tri-lingual development engineer for General Motors, working across China, Korea, and Japan.
Tim received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he graduated in the top 10% of his class as an Arjay Miller Scholar. He also holds an MSEE and BSEE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, where he was a Deparmental Scholar and received full fellowship.
Tim is an active musician and performs with the musical acts BlackMahal, Coverflow and RainbowParty.
Specialties: Tim's venture investment focus areas include eCommerce, Marketplaces, Digital Communities/Media/Gaming, Quantified Self/Life, Digital Health & Wellness, SmartHome and Connected Devices/IoT, as well as cross-border Asia-related startups.
14+ years of venture capital experience across US, Japan, China, and Korea. Notable investments include Kakao (KOSDAQ), Happy Elements (Buy Out), Scigineer (TSE Mothers), Gree (TSE), LASO (acquired by Farfetch), Sansan (TSE Mothers), Freee, VisasQ, AtamaPlus, PicsArt, TeamBlind, FOLIO, Coffee Meets Bagel, CADDi, Peco, etc.
Emre is Director at Globis Capital Partners, leading investments in IT startups targeting digital transformation of various industries. His track record includes GLM (electric vehicle startup, acquired by a Hong Kong based public company) and he sits on the board of Sensyn Robotics (integrated drone solution), MFS (mortgage and personal credit scoring), Global Mobility Service (auto loan, IoT), New Standard (digital media and brand studio), Photosynth (smartlock IoT) and work closely with Shippio (digital freight forwarder), and CADDi (procurement platform for manufacturing parts).
Prior to joining Globis Capital Partners, Emre worked for Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting (Tokyo) and KPMG Management Consulting (Tokyo), where he specialized in overseas expansion and Post Merger Integration.
He currently teaches at Globis University Graduate School of Management (MBA). Emre graduated from Harvard Business School (MBA) and Ohio State University (magna cum laude).
Tina is the Managing Partner at Cherubic Ventures and leads Cherubic’s global investment and partnership. She has extensive experience working in the education and technology sector. Her past employers include Yahoo, Cisco, Trianz Consulting, and Ogilvy & Mather. Tina holds an MBA degree from UCLA Anderson School of Management. She received her bachelor degree in Advertising from National ChengChi University in Taiwan. (Not related to founding partner Matt Cheng in any way, just happened to have the same last name.)
Jeffrey Paine is a Co-founder and Managing Partner of Golden Gate Ventures, an early stage technology venture capital fund based in Singapore investing in Southeast Asia with over US$175 million under management investing in over 35 companies since 2012.
Jeff started and manages the Founder Institute in Singapore where he is currently overseeing its expansion in Southeast Asia, and Japan. Since 2010 the Founder Institute in Singapore has graduated over 100 companies. He is a recipient of the Founder Institute Director Award 2012 for “Greatest Ecosystem Impact” Worldwide (Singapore).
He is a Singapore native and graduated with a Bachelors of Business Administration (Information Systems) from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Suneel is a Founding Partner of VentureSouq. Previously, he was Senior Legal Counsel to Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC), a large sovereign wealth fund based in the UAE, advising on global M&A, investment fund (VC, PE and hedge funds) and capital markets transactions. Prior to this, Suneel practiced in the Corporate group of Allen & Overy's Abu Dhabi office and at Blake, Cassels & Graydon in Toronto in the firm's Corporate Finance & Securities group. Suneel obtained a JD (with a concentration in business law) from the University of British Columbia, an MSc from the London School of Economics and a B.A. (Honours) from McMaster University (summa cum laude).
A veteran and rainmaker in the telecom, media and technology space, as well as the action sports sector, Curt is an experienced cross-border tech investor and venture capital fund manager, focusing on the complex but massive opportunities in China. His recent successful cross-border portfolios include Catapult Sports (ASX:CAT) the world leader in sports performance tracking devices (20X return exit in 18 months), Jayride (ASX:JAY) the #1 airport to/from destination transport comparison marketplace, among others. Currently Curt is the founding partner of three VC funds: Imprint Capital Partners in Beijing, Follow [The] Seed in Sydney, and Welinder & Shi Capital.
Curt was the 2016 winner of “CPA Australia - Australia China Alumni Award for Banking and Finance” by the Australia China Alumni Association and a finalist for the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alumni Award” by Western Sydney University for 2017.
Curt holds a Master's Degree in International Communication from Macquarie University in Sydney, and a GD of Translation and Interpreting from the University of Western Sydney, as well as a B.S. of International Business from Jiangsu University in China.
Prior to founding RHL, Raja Hamzah was a Director in Rasma Corporation, a boutique mechanical and electrical engineering services firm based in Malaysia, focusing on infrastructure projects including railroads, stadiums and hospitals. He focused on building and developing partnerships with government-linked companies, listed and private corporates and local authorities, and helped the company secure cornerstone projects for the national stadium and national rail projects. Prior to Rasma, Raja Hamzah was a Principal Investment Analyst with Guoco Management Company, a multi-billion US-dollar fund based out of Hong Kong. He used a fundamental, bottom up approach to investing, focusing on listed equities, IPO and pre-IPO investment opportunities across Asia and the U.S. He was also a Senior Analyst in the institutional coverage team of Goldman Sachs Asset Management based out of Singapore. GSAM has more than USD1 trillion dollars of assets under management There, he worked extensively with various institutional funds across Southeast Asia, recommending investments across private equity, hedge fund and other asset classes for clients which include Temasek, GIC, Bank Indonesia, the Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia and Khazanah Nasional.
Raja Hamzah graduated from the University of Warwick, UK with a first-class honours degree in Accounting and Finance. Hamzah was formerly an Exco member of the Malaysian Local Manufacturer’s Association.
Anant is an Associate at HAX - the hardware arm of SOSV. He works on the investment team, alongside the General Partners and Program Directors, to invest in and grow companies from pre-seed to Series B. HAX's portfolio builds industrial automation and robotics technologies, medical devices, enterprise IoT systems and consumer electronics. HAX is the leading early stage hardware investor in the world with more than 200 investments and offices in Shenzhen and San Francisco.
Entrenched deeply in the tech industry. Has venture capital, telco, mobile, and IT background and extensive experience including Strategic Management, Account Management, Channel & Marketing, Project Management, and Technology/Solutions Consulting.
Personal interest in how to use tech and gadgets for productivity.
And BTW, I helped co-founded MobileMonday Indonesia.
Specialties: venture capital, strategic management, business planning & analysis, telecommunication consulting, government liaison