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Things you need to be good at as a VC

An insider observation on what kind of person you need to be to work in a VC by Omid Scheybani, our MBA intern this summer. Coming from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Omid previously worked at Google, specializing on product distribution in emerging markets. 

 

As someone who is doing his MBA right in the heart of Silicon Valley, I notice a lot of people talking, dreaming, wishing to work in Venture Capital. In fact, not that surprising considering that a recent study of 151 VC Partners in the US found that 53% of them had MBAs — 60% of whom from either Stanford or Harvard (source).

At some point I was so intrigued by the industry that I decided to find out for myself. Given my passion for emerging markets, I wanted that experience to take place in South East Asia, so I ended up with Monk’s Hill Ventures (MHV) which is an industry-agnostic fund that invests across the region (focused on Series A investments). [more]

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Q&A with Chang Wen Lai, CEO of Ninja Van

We hosted 25 amazing entrepreneurs at the recent Monk’s Hill Ventures founders’ dinner. Ninja Van CEO Chang Wen Lai spoke with Managing Director Kuo-Yi Lim about his fundraising experience, and the lessons learnt whilst helming Ninja Van to a US$30M Series B. [more]

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Founders versus Professionals – who makes the better CEO?

At Monk’s Hill Ventures, we invest at the very early period of a company’s life cycle. By this stage, the start-up has only been in operations for 1-2 years, and usually the entire team has less than 20 people. Naturally the original founding members make up the key management team also, and 99% of the time, one of them wears the CEO hat.

But as a company grows, many other considerations come into play. Founders start companies because they are driven by building a product that solves a problem, and have innate passion for seeing their vision through. On the other hand, professional CEOs have built up a career of managing people and growing companies. They’ve seen a lot of things, and if they’re good, they have managed to survive it in tact and led companies to greater heights. We were interested to examine the topic of whether founder CEOs perform better or worse than non-founder CEOs (“professional CEOs”), specifically in the context of tech companies. [more]

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What is ASEAN for technology start-ups?

People question whether Southeast Asia is capable of producing billion-dollar technology companies. The skepticism is well-founded if you are trying to predict the future based on the past – the number of $1 billion+ tech valuations that we have seen in ASEAN can be counted on two hands.

But if we look at the population and buying power of the top cities/countries in this region, the conditions are there for a company of significant value to be built from scratch. [more]

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Assessing Investment Opportunities

What I look for in an investment opportunity.

At the high-level, there are two pieces that I look for in an investment opportunity. The first piece is focused on assessing the two most important traits of the entrepreneur: clarity and resilience. The second piece is focused on assessing the trifactor that I look for in a business: scalabilityrepeatability, and profitability[more]

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Purpose

You have 100 years on this planet, and then you will be gone. What are you going to do with it? The way I see it, there are three routes you could take... [...]

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Commit or Separate

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Commit or Separate

By Peng T. Ong

A general rule I have for high-performance teams is what I call the commit-or-separate rule. Every team member either commits to the mission, or leaves the team. [...]

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Startup Asia Jakarta

 

Monk's Hill had a massive presence at Tech in Asia's Startup Asia Jakarta this year and we can not thank the entire TiA team for such a great conference. The quality of speakers, attendees, startups, and entrepreneurs was exceptional.

There is a lot of focus on Indonesia because of sheer population and high GDP, but unless one is on the ground interacting with the local startups, it's difficult to gauge the potential of this market beyond population and GDP. 

Indonesians, adapt rapidly. New tools, technologies, and methodologies are embraced quicker by the masses than a lot of the surrounding markets. In only one year, the conference turn-out nearly tripled -- an outstanding year over year growth and proof of concept of how quickly things change in Indonesia.

Hanifa Ambadar, founder of femaledaily.com, mentioned 84% of Indonesian women convert on social media with Instagram leading the pack.  Even if it takes multiple steps and even opening apps to complete a transaction on Instagram (Instagram -> WhatsApp -> receive code -> transact), people still shop. 

We saw multiple local startups building products to solve local and regional problems like farming and domestic help. 

The abilities of Indonesians to rapidly adjust to growth and change, is only one of the reasons that makes Indonesia such an attractive market.

Quick wrap-up from the partners:

Stefan took the stage several times -- here is the video of him judging the winner of the startup battle with Khailee Ng of 500 Startups, Jayesh Parekh of Jungle Ventures, and Willson Cuaca of East Ventures. The banter between the judges and entrepreneurs made the entire audience smile and even laugh out loud at times -- if you haven't interacted with any of the judges in person, this video will definitely give you an idea of their personalities. Watch it here.

Peng's keynote on 7 Elements You Need to Build a World Class Startup's video is here

Kuo-Yi rocked the stage discussing Indonesian regulations with Mahendra Siregar, former chairman, Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), and Daneil Tumiwa, chairman of the Indonesian ecommerce Association.

There is no video (yet) but a few soundbites:

"(Regulations) are a chance for the Internet community to shape and flow government -- not work against."

"Genesis of sustainable sources of business: local knowledge, local operation."

Hopefully TiA will put the video up soon.

Thanks again TiA for such a great conference, getting the videos and photos up so quickly. And congratulations all around to such a successful event!

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Kuo-Yi at Asia Leaders Summit 2014

Get to know the partners [from the archives]

Kuo-Yi was at the Asia Leaders Summit early 2014 and participated on a panel dicussing "Navigating investment landscapes of Asia" with Daniel Kang (Managing Director, Softbank Ventures Korea), Nobuaki Kitagawa (Managing Director and CEO of Cyber Agent Ventures Beijing), and Willson Cuaca (co-founder and Managing Partner of East Ventures).

Soundbites:

Lim says that in the early days, Singapore has a lot of early stage funds. Not many startups in Southeast Asia are available for Series A. He says that VCs are in the service business with startups as clients. So the clients have to be ready before the VCs come in.

Lim likes founders who have both local and global thinking.

Thanks to Tech in Asia for live-blogging. 
Read the whole thing here

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CEO Lessons

Yishan Wong announced his resignation as CEO from Reddit today and shared very personal reasons as to why.

From his Quora post:

 

The job as CEO of reddit is incredibly stressful and draining.  After two and a half years, I'm basically completely worn out, and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life.  If anything, I probably pushed myself way too far - as a first-time CEO, all I knew was that such jobs are supposed to be stressful, so I never really had a good baseline, i.e. how stressful is too stressful, until multiple outside people and coaches I was working with remarked to me that I looked incredibly worn down for months on end and it wasn't supposed to be this hard.

Entrepreneurship is hard. Starting and building a company is hard -- even with established companies such as Reddit. Which is why first time founders should ask themselves: "Am I ready for the challenge?", then, be prepared to be honest with yourselves, to know when to ask for help. 

From a VC standpoint, an investor's job isn't just providing money to get entrepreneur's visions started. Investors are also there to help coach and mentor. 

Having a solid support network can make a world of difference. Things to in mind as you begin your entrepreneurial journey.

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Stefan on Raising Money

Get to know the partners [from the archives]

Stefan was on a panel at Startup Asia Jakarta in 2013 with Tom Clayton (Bubble Motion, Inc) and Saemin Ahn (Rakuten Ventures) about raising money in Indonesia and SE Asia.

He talks about the two qualities he looks for in an entrepreneur and shares invaluable insights on how he gets to know startups and the people behind them.

Soundbites (paraphrased)

Every year in Europe, there are 2,000 new tech companies. Of those 2,000, 50 raise a series A. In the US, there are 10,000 new startups - 5 times more than Europe. 400 receive series A - 8 times more venture money. In Indonesia, there were 30 VC investments across all stages. In 2012, there were 20 deals. In 2011, there were 10 deals. The ecosystem is still small but growing fast.

 

The video can't be embedded, watch the entire discussion here

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Kuo-Yi on Hustling

Get to know the partners [from the archives]

“Keep hustling — you have to keep the pressure on yourself to move fast,” said Kuo-Yi Lim, Managing Director, Monk's Hill Ventures

Kuo-Yi's interview with e27, where he shares his thoughts on Southeast Asia and criteria for investing. 

Read the whole piece here.

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