Each episode lays out one journey of how they get to where they are today, how their ventures are built, and how they view the future. We bring you one journey full of lessons and insights. Would you like to know more about the podcast, head over to www.theventurejourney.com. The podcast is hosted by Nattariya, a Southeast Asian-based venture investor, who regularly writes her musing on tech investing at www.nattariya.com.
#9 HKVAX – Matthew Cheung on building crypto infrastructure for asset tokenization and institutional investors
Matthew Cheung is the founding team member of HKVAX, a custody and exchange solution for institutional investors in Hong Kong. Matt has an unconventional start to the tech world. He started his career as a Recruiter before stumbling across crypto. His journey changed forever.
He joined OKCoin as one of the first 100 employees in 2016. OKCoin grew into a 1,000+ people company and is one of the most active crypto exchanges in China. After witnessing the 2017 initial coin offering (ICO) boom, he felt jaded by the scammers and left the crypto world behind for a short reprieve. But, that wasn’t for long. He found himself still believing in the technology. He came back and joined Coinsuper, a regulated crypto exchange in Hong Kong and later co-founded JM Consulting to help clients issue tokenized assets.
At JM, he found that the biggest challenge for tokenized assets is the lack of liquidity. Issuers want to see a large pool of investors before issuing tokenized assets. Investors want to see a large pool of investors to ensure they could trade those tokens. To solve this chick-and-egg problem, Matt realized that the missing building block is an infrastructure for high net worth individuals and institutions to invest in crypto. That’s where HKVAX comes in. Today, Matt is building out a regulated infrastructure for institutional and high net worth clients to trade crypto in a secured way at HKVAX.
#8 Alpha Finance Lab – Tascha on finding product market fit in the fast moving cryptocurrency world
Tascha Punyaneramitdee is the Co-Founder and CEO of Alpha Finance Lab. She’s the first and only Thai female founder that has built a unicorn company. Alpha Finance made its way to the world in September 2020. In the span of just six months, it hit a unicorn status with more than $1B in value locked under the company’s lending solution, Alpha Homora.
Alpha Finance aims to build a decentralized financial (DeFi) product suite that has instant product market fit. Alpha is uniquely positioned as a nimble company that doesn’t fix itself into one product, but rather a lab that continuously finds pain points in the market and quickly builds products to fill that gap.
Since Alpha tries to build a product that has PMF on Day 1, Tascha needs to figure out what isn’t working fast. “Consistently making decisions to prioritize resources and products with time pressure is the most challenging part of being a founder.” Finding product market fit isn’t easy, but a rule of thumb is “A product that has product market fit is the product that people ‘get’ that it’s unique right away.”
Tascha listens to her gut feeling in both her life and her company. She relies on her instincts to figure out what’s the most important thing to do and build, and that has led to a company that leads DeFi innovation and able to grow into a unicorn in just 6 months of launch.
#7 Zipmex – Marcus Lim on staying humble, cutting out the noises and focusing on what you’re building
Marcus Lim had a high paying job in consulting. But, he just kept spending his spare time tinkering on startup ideas. After a few months, he sold his car, moved back in with his parents, and started Oneflare, a marketplace for local services in Australia. What motivated him to take the risk? The realization that if the company fails, he can always apply to McDonald’s.
“It’s like survival of the fittest. You just need to figure out how to do it. It’s either you fail or you succeed. There’s no middle path.” We talked about scrappy approaches he did to acquire customers, including making flyers that look like parking tickets!
After Oneflare got acquired, he co-founded a payment company in Indonesia, but the company did not see the light of day. From success and failure, he has always stayed humble. Today, he is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zipmex, a leading crypto exchange in Southeast Asia that is operating across Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia.
Marcus strives to have an impact on people’s lives in every company he builds. “That’s the one purpose for me when doing business.” His principle is to cut out the noises and focus on what you’re trying to build. For first time entrepreneurs, his advice is, “You really need to know what you don’t know. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses very quickly, and when something is not going well. You need to know when to ask for help. Perspective from smart people is really important.”
#6 Circles.Life – Abhishek Gupta on disrupting telecommunications industry
“If I leave PE and I can’t come back, I didn’t deserve it in the first place.”
Abhishek began his career as a strategy consultant and a private equity investor. He later got bit by an entrepreneurial bug in Jakarta where he spotted opportunities co-founded Circles.Life, a digital telco company which has bagged investment from big names like Warburg Pincus, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, and Sequoia Capital. We talked about taking a leap of faith, disrupting a legacy industry, and founder scaling.
#5 Creative Ventures – Champ Suthipongchai on building a deep tech VC fund
Champ Suthipongchai is a Managing Partner of Creative Ventures, a deep tech VC fund that invests in companies solving the world’s biggest problems from aging population, rising healthcare cost to climate crisis. He took a bold move using his own capital to kickstart the first fund before raising from institutional investors. We talked about fundraising secrets (hint: engineered serendipity) and decision making process.
“Our goal is to be right for the right reason, be wrong for the right reason.”
#4 iSeed – Wing Vasiksiri on founding a VC fund at the age of 23
Wing Vasiksiri co-founded iSeed, a seed stage VC fund in Southeast Asia. VC was never on his map until he interned at 500 Startups and The House Fund. He started writing angel checks and later decided to join AngelList where he found his partner, Utsav Somani, a name well familiar within the Indian startup scene. We talked about how his experiences have helped him build iSeed.
“There’s no right way to do VC. What’s important is understanding your strategy and executing that strategy every day.”