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My First 100 Days as a VC Analyst in Southeast Asia

RJ is an Investment Analyst at Monk’s Hill Ventures, and was previously a consultant at Balmater Consulting Company, where he led a small team to advise family-owned SME's in Indonesia. Prior to that, he was a financial analyst at Fortman Cline Capital Markets in Manila focusing on local sell-side deals in the region.

The first 100 days in any new job can be daunting. Acclimatizing yourself to new faces, new methodologies, new job functions, and new industries is hard for everyone. Below are some of my personal tips working in a Southeast Asian venture capital fund to help you beat the learning curve faster.

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Three Things to Consider Before Starting Your Startup in Southeast Asia

Yee Hoong is an Investment Analyst at Monk’s Hill Ventures, and was most recently founder of Custom Tribe, an online algorithmic custom shirt startup. Prior to that he was an associate with a life sciences VC/PE, and a management consultant working with clients in FMCG and Financial Institutions.

Every now and then in conversations with founders and friends, the question “would you do a startup again” will most certainly creep up. Reflecting on the decision leaving vc to build Custom Tribe a few years back, I now often advise many to-be founders to think long and hard about it. Here are three things I think are unique to Southeast Asia, from collection of conversations with fellow SEA-born (ex) founders.

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So You Want To Join A Startup (in Southeast Asia)

Lucy Luo is an Associate on our investment team in Singapore. One of her favourite things to discuss with founders is about people and fostering talent.

I wrote this blog because it’s a common topic of conversation with friends and founders, and I’m personally thinking through this for myself. Would love to hear other people’s experiences on it - especially if you’re a founder or startup employee (past, present or planning to).

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VCs evaluate a lot of startups. This gives us a good look into how they operate, what they care about, and the type of people they want to hire. VCs also meet a lot of people, including those who are looking for their next job. This puts us in a pretty logical spot to matchmake candidates and startup jobs. It’s always interesting to hear what each side thinks they’re getting, and then in hindsight what they actually end up with.

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A Frequently Asked Question: “What’s a VC fundable startup?”

June Chen is an Associate at Monk’s Hill Ventures, and was previously an associate in the investment banking industry primarily advising large corporate clients on IPOs, local and cross-border M&A transactions in Southeast Asia.

 

I received a lot of queries (along with raised eyebrows) from founders I talked to about why we decided not to invest in their startups. For many instances, the answers were simple enough: it was a hardware business (which we don’t typically invest in), or it’s out of our geographical focus. However, when it comes to explaining why a startup that ticks all the boxes but might be ‘too early’ for us, I often find myself digging deep into its business model and its founders to come up with a reasonable answer. For the benefits of the general public, this article seeks to shed light on our thought process in determining whether a startup is VC fundable and whether it is ripe for a Series A round.

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Simple Formula for Exponential Growth

Wondering if there's a simple formula for exponential growth? Here's a brief explanation as described by Bayram Annakov, CEO of App in the Air, in his article.

 

The formula is: 

k > (1-retention), where k is the fraction of new users attracted by existing users. 

The system incorporates 2 feedback loops: 

1. Reinforcing loop: more active users >> more new users >> more active users.

(New Users = Active Users * k)

2. Balancing loop: more active users >> higher churn rate

(Churned Users = Active users * (1-retention), since churn rate is reverse of retention)

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EdTech, Don’t Get Left Behind!

Technology has had a profound impact on every aspect of our life, and education is no exception. With the commoditization of information and the rise of AI, our methods of education are obsolete. Though at the root of the problem, technology can help accelerate the progress in education. Innovation in edtech should help drive better learning outcomes, stay relevant, and make education more accessible.

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Peng T. Ong's Interview with Great Owls

This interview with Managing Partner Peng T. Ong first appeared on GreatOwls.com

Interview by Olga Sych

 

You created three highly successful, but very different companies ranging from gaming to content management. What led you to create each of them?

I look for what I call ridiculous states of the world that don’t make any sense and then try to fix those states. The first one was looking through classified ads with your finger on newspapers. That didn’t make sense, so I thought, ‘Why doesn't a computer do it?’ The second one was how to manage hundreds of gigabytes of content with thousands of employees contributing to the content on a website. I thought there must be a better way to do it with automation. The third one was about how digital security is so archaic in our space and the world we live in, so I tried to fix that.

 

What is one of the most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

To choose to be an entrepreneur.

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Building and Scaling Data Science Teams For Your Startup

Today, data is an important competitive advantage for companies. Companies use it to understand their customers, decide on a business strategy, and optimize their business.

As an operating advisor at Monk’s Hill Ventures, I talk to startup founders on how they can do that. These startups range from early-stage companies, to more mature companies in the pre- or post-IPO stage. Some companies already have established data science teams and are keen to scale that out, while others are figuring out how to hire their first data scientists or even decide what kind of data they should be collecting. Nevertheless, there are a few common themes that keep coming up, and I hope to address some of them here.

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Vietnam: A tech hub ready to boom

Everywhere I look these days I see cranes. Not the kind that fly, but construction cranes. While some look at them and see ugliness, I see something else: the towers reaching skyward symbolize Vietnam’s striving ambition, Vietnam’s promise.

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The Sales Engine

Why do big corporations find it so hard to innovate? Why is it difficult to create products that are somewhat different from what they have already produced or using different distribution channels? In short, what is the nature of innovation that makes it so difficult to process-ize? One of the reasons is the same reason why many startups do not get past the seed stage.

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Solve Education!

A speech given by Peng T. Ong on scalable and sustainable solution to education around the world at AVPN Conference 2017 in Bangkok on June 7, 2017.  Peng T. Ong is the Chairman of SolveEducation!, a non-profit organisation that focuses on making high quality education accessible to everyone. Leveraging on technology, SolveEducation! aims at revolutionizing education through gamification and artificial intelligent.

 

Greetings, honorable members of AVPN and all the participants of this year’s conference. … Ladies and gentlemen. Friends and future friends. 

The theme of this year’s AVPN conference is collaborating for impact.

We are here today because we are hopeful that through collaboration we can make a bigger difference to the world we live in.

Contributions that will benefit individuals and groups, with collaboration, can possibly scale up to make a difference to towns, cities, and nations.  Thus, one of the key purposes of collaborating is so that our collective impact is much more scalable than our individual efforts.

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A chance meeting leads to opportunities: on making your own luck

Personal insights from Justin Nguyen, one of our Operating Advisors.

 

I often say that success is half luck and half what you make of it. But the thing is, you can make your own luck.

Not that long ago when I was the CEO of a young gaming company, an opportunity was literally standing in front of me, but if I hadn’t been paying attention, I might have missed it.

I was in line at the Macau airport (economy class, of course), heading home from the Global Gaming Expo, when I happened to look up at the business class line. That’s when I saw him: the CEO of one of the biggest players in our space.

I prefer not to identify him by name, but let’s just say he was a big fish. Seeing him there would be like a software startup CEO spotting Larry Page, just standing there with his wife.

He had no idea who I was, but of course, I knew exactly who he was. Me? I was running a small company, competing against giants: their R&D spending in a single year was 20 to 30 times the size of our entire budget. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

We weren’t even a blip on his radar.

I decided to change that.

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Confessions of an Investment Banker turned VC

Self reflections from Ganesh Ramakrishnan, our newest member on the Investment team. Ganesh will be matriculating at the Stanford Graduate School of Business later this Fall. Prior to MHV, Ganesh worked at Goldman Sachs, specializing in emerging market equities and Finvoice, financing the working capital needs of SMEs.

 

What a year it’s been -- from spearheading one of the largest investment roadshows for global sovereign wealth clients in India, to connecting small business owners to affordable sources of short-term capital in the United States -- my experiences during these past twelve months have been substantially wide-ranging, challenging, yet rewarding at the same time. Much inspired from reading Stanford GSB alum Bonny Simi’s unconventional path to venture capital (source), I thought I could perhaps share my own story about how I navigated my way to where I am today - an early-stage VC at Monk’s Hill Ventures (MHV).

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Life Projects & Purpose

College of Engineering Fall Convocation
Krannert Center
University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign
December 17, 2016
Peng T. Ong
http://cs.illinois.edu/news/alumnus-peng-ong-will-be-featured-speaker-fall-convocation

 

Introduction

I am honored to be able to talk to you today.

Congratulations on making it to this point, at one of the world’s top engineering schools.

Now what? We each have about a 100 years on the planet. (Yes, ... you've got approximately 80 left.)

I know many of you already have a job lined up. Have you thought about how the next few years of your life tees you up for the rest of it?

As an entrepreneur, and then a VC, I have spent a lot of my time talking to many highly-accomplished individuals about what drives them... about their purpose.

One of the hardest challenges that many people face is in deciding on a purpose. Yes, I did say deciding. Not finding. Not discovering. Not searching for.

You have to decide on your purpose, or it will literally not really be YOUR PURPOSE.

I would like to use our next few minutes to tell you about three things I'm spending time on because of my purpose.

My "Life Projects", as I call them.

What I hope for is that they prompt you to think about and decide on your own purpose. 

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Top Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Capital from VCs

So you’ve worked hard at setting up and launching your startup, and now you’re ready to take it to the next level. Well, venture capital could be just what you need to accelerate your growth. But in order to increase the odds of getting that money, you’ll have to perform extensive research, prepare an outstanding pitch, and avoid the following mistakes that could cost you a lucrative deal. [more]

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Let’s Talk Compensation

We recently ran a survey on compensation in tech startups in Singapore. This topic is very much a top-of-mind for many founders. Compensation data - base pay, bonus, stock options etc - are hard to come by. Existing salary surveys tend to focus on established IT companies and their roles (e.g. sales, marketing), but don’t quite capture the nuances that startups face.

So we decided to ask startup founders in Singapore. We sent out a survey that asked 4 questions. The intent was to keep the survey brief - founders are busy. We also wanted to get the information out there fast and then iterate later. Responses from 13 founders came very quickly, almost all commenting that they have been looking for compensation data.

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MHV's Profile Series - Dimitra Taslim

A sneak peak into the background profile of MHV's team members. First up on our profile series is Dimitra Taslim, our Sr. Investment Analyst.

1) So, what's your story?

I'm Chinese Indonesian. I moved to Singapore when I was nine years old and later to the UK, where I studied and worked for eight years. I also spent about one and a half years travelling across Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

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