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.
2) What did you want to be when you were a child?
3) How did you end up working in Venture Capital?
I worked in the PE industry in London for about 3 years. In an "old money" place like London, the PE industry lives and breathes in a cyclicality that involves moving these "old monies" around without necessarily creating value. You see the same assets/companies change hands all the time - they get big, PE firms chop them up and sell them in parts, some of those parts get big and some fail, they chop up those big parts and sell them in parts again. Watching this unfold can be pretty disenchanting.
So I began to dabble in startup investing through the SEIS scheme whilst working in London. I was also observing the SEA startup scene very intently. My interest grew into an obsession, so I pinged my CV to a handful of selected VCs in Singapore. I met Peng and Kuo-Yi and the rest is history.
4) What do you do to stay on top of relevant news in the VC world?
Email alerts man... You've got to organise those alerts and stay on top of them.
5) What's the most exciting thing about working in VC?
I love looking for a needle in a haystack. What can I say? I'm a masochist.
But more than anything else, it’s the people. I meet some incredibly inspiring characters on an almost daily basis.
6) What piece of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don't work towards making a quick buck. Be purpose driven. Find your calling. In the words of Phil Knight: "If you're following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, and the highs will be like nothing you've ever felt."
Each of us meets an average of 1-2 startups a day. We're a team of 4 so we see about 30 startups a week. This means we meet more than 1,000 startups a year. If you have a genuine purpose, you'll shine through fairly obviously.
7) If you wanted to start a company today, in what space would you do it?
B2B2C EdTech, possibly on children's extracurricular learning materials, which progress with the needs of early childhood (3-8), middle childhood (9-11) and adolescence (12-16).
8) What have been the biggest lessons you learned since you started working in Venture Capital?
The deal isn't done until you get their John Hancock and the money is transferred.
For a hot deal, the dynamics of a fundraising round can be very unpredictable. If the company has several offers, it'll probably come down to a board vote. Engage every board member so they're aligned with the value your fund brings to the company.
Avoid FOMO and herd instinct, and try not to fall in love with the wrong companies.
VC is still relatively nascent in SEA. There aren't many experienced players so take what people say with a pinch of salt.
Be honest, fair, empathetic and responsive towards entrepreneurs.
I still find it weird saying "no" to entrepreneurs who are probably smarter than me and have life+work experience that's a multiple of what I've experienced. But it's part of the job. Do it right without leaving a sour taste in their mouth.
9) What's the hardest thing about being you?
I'm still seeking a calling. I don't know what that means exactly but I'm looking for it. I can be very picky. It's hard.
10) Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
I sat in a Zambian holding cell for a night. I didn't commit a crime. It was a mistake for which the police apologised profusely. No, really. It wasn't me who knocked down the shepherd's goat.