Get inside the mind of a bamboo VC: Golden Gate Ventures Jeffrey Paine on Southeast Asia startup scene!
I just went to Singapore for a conference and also came to get the Bamboo VC’s insights. We then had a startup chat at a cozy lifestyle coffee shop on Duxton road near his venture office. Jeffrey Paine was already there with another meeting before I arrived the place.
Jeffrey Paine and the other two founding partners have started investing to the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia with the seed fund $10M in 2012. And last year they closed a series A fund with $60M+. Jeff and Golden Gate Ventures are the pioneering VCs in the region since the early day of startup world in SEA. They also published The Bammbo Report: SOUTHEAST ASIA: THE EAST’S NEXT BLOCKBUSTER ECONOMY
He looked less relaxing then the last time I met him, but can’t hide a bit exciting in his eyes while sharing: We’re working on the second fund. We’re having not only more money but also more people. So I have to care about managing people, not just investing like before. We have a growth-hacking guy from HomeAway/Rocket Internet to help our portfolio startups on how to scale up, in case some founders don’t have good marketing background. We also have a local business development person for Indonesia market.
And we continued to chat about several markets in Southeast Asia.
Jeffrey Paine: There are lots of big companies and family business in Thailand. And they seems to focus on B2B business, make money and keep making money rather than doing B2C business and scaling up.
Note: Golden Gate Ventures portfolio in Thailand (05 startups): Claimdi, Noonswoon, Orami, Omise, Pigipo
Jeffrey Paine: At the moment startups in Vietnam are facing the money problem, they’re growing then don’t have money to continue scaling up their businesses. Many of them have to go to Singapore to raise money. They need more local VCs or foreign VCs in Vietnam.
Besides money, any issues startup founders in Vietnam need to improve?
– English: I attended a tech event in Vietnam with few hundreds of attendees. And surprised to see the majority of them have used the tranlator headphone.
– Majority of them have technical background, I think 70% are techies. While in Singapore this ratio is reversed, 70% are non- tech or have business/finance background. Therefore they seems to lack of business perspective and how to build a business model instead of only build a product.
– Most of them think Vietnam’s market is already very big. So they’re not looking up for expanding to other regional markets.
Note: Golden Gate Ventures portfolio in Vietnam (03 startups): Appota, Lozi, WifiChua
Jeffrey Paine: Founders from these countries have a multi-culture and languages background. They can speak fluently at least two languages. Singaporeans/Malaysian can also speak Chinese so they have a good advantage to work with more partners, investors.
What do you think about successful startup founders trait?
Most of them used to have international exposure, whichever studied from good schools abroad or lived abroad. Or they are directors from big corporates. One more point they are usually from rich family background.
Think about the time when they scale up, if they don’t have good profile, it’d be touch for them to recruit executives from large corporates, or talents from more advanced countries to work for them.
How about Carousell founders? They didn’t have much working experience?
They lived in Sillion Valley for one year, or worked in Shanghai. They’re also the young smart guys so have the gut on how mobile works for the young mobile generation users.
Golden Gate Ventures portfolio in Singapore (15 startups): Apptoide, Carousell, Carro, CodaPay, HipVan, Homage, MoneySmart, Perx, RedMart, Semantics, Stripe, TradeGecko, VaultDragon, Xfers, 99.co
Golden Gate Ventures portfolio in Malaysia: ServisHero, GoQuo
Golden Gate Ventures portfolio in Indonesia (09 startups): AloDokter, DuitPintar, Gadjian, IndoProc, IndoTrading, Jojonomic, Laku6, Printerous, Ruma
Recently, how do you invest in startups?
Jeffrey Paine: Now we’re more careful and doubtful. There was a time we could co-invest with other good VCs, and thought: there are many good investors, founders have good background so just do it. Now we see many cases startups disappeared after few years. So we have to consider some more factors before investing.
Yah, sure. It looks like easy to spend money like a VC. But it’s really not easy to multiply the money. And the bamboo VC now has some fruitful exits to several notable acquirers: Singtel, InMobi, Lazada, Facebook…
That’s why next year there will be another fund coming from Golden Gate. Let’s see!
Note: Golden Gate Ventures portfolio related to ecommerce
GoQuo, HipVan, Orami, IndoTrading, Laku6, RedMart, Ruma, Carousell, Carro, DuitPintar, MoneySmart and two from US, Hong Kong.
Appota, Omise, CodaPay, Xfers, Stripe
Read more on Southeast Asia eCommerce Startup Scene!