Meet The Investors Part 3

In the final instalment of our Meet the Investors series, we’re proud to introduce to you incredible investors from Softbank Investment Advisers, Hustle Fund, Wavemaker Partners, Kickstart Ventures, DTRIBE Capital and Singtel Innov8! Founders, to ensure maximum value from each of the 15-minute sessions with mentors, read on for insights into their background, their investment strategy, what they enjoy discussing with founders and their top tips for office hours below:


Anna Lo, Softbank Vision Fund

Anna Lo Softbank

Anna Lo is the Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers. Anna joined SoftBank in 2006 after spending four years in tech banking at Deutsche Bank based in Hong Kong and Tokyo. She has since been involved in international VC and portfolio management projects across Asia and North America, including as part of the founding team of SoftBank China & India Fund, SoftBank Group International, and today, as part of SoftBank Investment Advisers, manager of the SoftBank Vision Fund. She has led investments in the consumer internet sectors for the Fund in United States, China and India since its formation, and relocated to Singapore in April to initiate the Fund’s coverage effort in Southeast Asia. Anna received a BA in East Asian Studies and BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

What is unique about your fund?

The SoftBank Vision Fund is unwavering in our belief that the AI revolution is here and will create tremendous value in the years ahead. We believe what sets the Vision Fund apart are:

– Freedom-level capital – we’re long-term, patient investors. Our experience as CEOs and former operators is invaluable to our portfolio.

– Unrivaled Ecosystem – unrivaled ecosystem of more than 90 tech CEOs at portfolio companies, former CEOs on our investment teams, and our Operating Group with a presence in regions around the world.

– Global perspective – we have a team of over 400 people across 8 offices over the world to help our portfolio navigate growth by way of support to enter new markets and form partnerships across the ecosystem.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

In Southeast Asia, we are “one-year young” in covering the companies and establishing relationships out of Singapore. Thanks to our earlier bets in the region in Tokopedia and Grab, our team was able to get connected with the investor community very quickly. My focus has mostly been on Indonesia and we have been spending time on a couple of sectors that are ancillary to e-commerce, such as specialty EC, and logistics. There is a juxtaposition of infrastructure not being fully digitized yet a relatively young population so eager to embrace digital life, which creates opportunities for teams with the entrepreneurial itch to fill in the gap.

Which part of an investment do you enjoy most discussing with a founder?

This also happens to be the toughest part of the conversation which does not come natural for everyone (and I am still in training to become one myself). This is the topic of how we get through the challenges together as Mgmt team and Shareholders. This should not be a taboo topic and I hope it is a way for founders to understand the investment philosophy of any institutional fund that they come across, as well as their
key human interface (i.e. the lead partner from the fund). We do not expect all founders to have gone through challenges in life as founders – it’s not about direct experience – just getting to know them and how they believe they will act is very important. It may be an intense discussion but I think both sides come out of it with newfound knowledge.

What are your 3 top tips on how to make the most of the mentoring hours?

If you have a good sense of the mentor’s work experience or specialization, be specific on the ask.

Don’t treat your mentor like your Rolodex. If the business intro were for a sales lead, the mentor is basically doing a pitch on your behalf. He/she would need to be equally prepped and convinced that the counterparty would find it worthwhile.

Do allocate a small % of time to talk about things that are as far away from your startup as possible. Through discussion of different ideas, or having someone see a different side of you could sometimes lead to new business ideas or network introductions!

What advice are you giving to startups on how to navigate COVID-19? Are you giving the same advice to scale-ups (post series B)?

The great majority of our startups are post Series-B and they have decided to partner with Vision Fund for the unique points which I mentioned in the first response (we are long-term and patient capital). Conservation of cash has been top of mind due to the overall economic impact of Covid-19, and Vision Fund-backed startups have been nimble in adjusting plans to have at least 18-24 months’ runway without changing the core business.

Shaw Yean Lim, Hustle Fund

Shaw Headshot Hustlefund

Shaw is the CEO of Hustle Flywheel, a revenue-based financing business that is a part of the Hustle Fund family, providing startups with non-dilutive financing. She is an experienced fintech operator and leader. She previously ran Finance & Operations at Plum Lending, a commercial real estate fintech (Series B) in Silicon Valley and served as an innovation mentor at DBS. Prior to that, she structured equity derivatives and credit products at Morgan Stanley in NYC. She graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Mathematics and an MS in Management Science & Engineering.

What is unique about Hustle Fund?

We seek to provide capital to startups beyond equity financing. We think that founders can learn to optimize their cost of capital and avoid unnecessary dilution. We’re obsessed about a business’ revenue model, growth and modes of customer acquisition. If a part of your business has a measurable and repeatable outcome, like proven sales and marketing channels, inventory and working capital needs with a predictable payback cycle etc., we would love to fund you. We work with software-enabled businesses that generate at least $20,000 in monthly revenue, and take repayment as a percentage of revenue. Our financing term is 6 to 18 months.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

We enjoy looking at businesses with products that are loved by customers and address a particular niche in the market. Business models can span marketplaces, SaaS, subscription and e-commerce, with healthy margins. We start working with a business from an early stage (as early as 6 months in) and might not have a billion dollar target addressable market, which is a segment underserved by banks and VCs.

Which part of an investment do you enjoy most discussing with a founder?

We love helping founders improve on their metrics – lower cost of acquisition, accelerate growth and optimize cost of capital. We think there is room for improvement in finance education amongst founders – to really understand their cap table, negotiate payment terms, use leverage, optimize cost of capital and retain control of their business. We’ve helped companies in the personal care, beauty, SaaS, real estate and healthcare space and are looking for more!

What are your 3 top tips on how to make the most of the mentoring hours?

1. Set up your sales attribution and track your numbers diligently.

2. Share your numbers with potential investors as much as possible. Transparency creates a platform for frank conversation, which leads to improvement and increased likelihood of investment.

3. Entrepreneurs constantly face headwinds and on most days, everything feels incomplete and in disarray. Be vulnerable about the challenges you face as a founder. We’re here to lend a listening ear.

What advice are you giving to startups on how to navigate COVID-19? Are you giving the same advice to scale-ups (post series B)?

We mostly work with pre-Series A companies but the concepts of monitoring burn rate and cash runway are universal. Look out for government wage support and grants in these times. Have constant conversations with your investors about fundraising and how much dry powder they have to support your business. Negotiate with your vendors and landlords for a better payment plan for your expenses. See these times as an opportunity to adapt and use your existing infrastructure to offer a new product or target a new segment of customers or experiment with lower cost acquisition channels.


Sui Ling Cheah, Wavemaker Partners 

Sui Ling 15 (1)

Sui Ling joined Wavemaker in 2017. As Operating Partner, she is responsible for helping the later stage companies in Wavemaker’s portfolio with exits. She spent 20 years in investment banking raising capital for high growth companies and executing cross-border M&A. Her last role in investment banking prior to exiting the industry was as the Co-head of Corporate Finance SEA at BNP Paribas. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of Investment Banking at JP Morgan Singapore. Sui Ling started her career with Merrill Lynch New York followed by stints in Singapore and London.

Sui Ling serves on the boards of several publicly-listed, private and not-for-profit entities. She is currently a member of the boards of SGX-listed companies Telechoice, CDL Hospitality Trust and Parkway Life REIT, where she also chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Nominating & Remuneration Committee.

She graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Economics.

What is unique about Wavemaker Partners?

Wavemaker Partners was one of the first early stage B2B deep-tech focused funds in Southeast Asia. We currently have about 130 investments in our portfolio, with founders originating from all over the world, literally from Barbados to Bombay to Brisbane. Another potentially differentiating factor is that due to the nature of our B2B focus, a majority of our founders tend to be slightly older with over 10 years of experience in a particular domain. Lastly, an interesting statistic relevant to this particular cohort is that at least 20% of the co-founders in our portfolio companies are women.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

The standard mantra in the venture world is that one invests in founders. So as opposed to specific investments, my focus is more on the type of founders that I enjoy working with. Obviously I love all our founders otherwise we wouldn’t have invested in them! But I admit to having a soft spot for founders who have gone through some form of personal adversity, who have a never-say-die attitude with enough humility to be coachable. Finally and of course I am biased but I will say that we have a good number of amazing female founders in the Wavemaker portfolio whom I love working with!

Which part of an investment do you enjoy most discussing with a founder?

I especially enjoy it when the founder can really explain what he/she is doing that will result in a paradigm shift in a particular industry. It’s always exciting to hear about an exceptionally disruptive and game changing idea.

What are your 3 top tips on how to make the most of the mentoring hours?

1. Be well prepared with the topics you want to discuss in order to make the most of the session

2. Come with an open mind and trust the mentor so that you can discuss a greater range of topics. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – the worst that can happen is the person saying no and if they do, don’t take it personally.

3. Don’t expect everyone you meet to be a fit – a lot has to do with chemistry. Make use of the time you have, then figure out which investor you had the most chemistry with and can see yourself working with in the longer term.

What advice are you giving to startups on how to navigate COVID-19? Are you giving the same advice to scale-ups (post series B)?

1. As the situation might last longer than expected, the most important thing is that you have a sustainable runway to ensure survivability.

2. Come up with new ways to engage with your customer to suit their evolving needs. Your customers are facing challenging times so being able to solve or assist them during this period will go a long way.

3. Employee morale is very important during uncertain times. People need to be assured. It is important to communicate openly and be transparent.

I would give the same advice to later stage and even publicly listed companies. The fund raising options may be different for post Series B scale-ups. Given they are more mature, they can avail themselves of a broader range of fundraising avenues, especially on the debt side of the balance sheet. For example, banks in Singapore are being asked by the government to lend more to startups so use this opportunity to get access to financing avenues that may not have been accessible before.


Joan Yao, Kickstart Ventures

2016 Joan Yao 7 Kickstart

Joan Yao has more than 10 years of experience in identifying and supporting early-and growth-stage companies across Southeast Asia through investments, business advisory and policy formation. Joan is currently Vice President overseeing investments at Kickstart Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Globe Telecom, the Phillippenese leading telco. In 2019, Kickstart was chosen by Ayala Corporation to manage its new $150m venture capital fund, focusing on startups with strategic relevance to the conglomerate’s business units.

Prior to Kickstart, Joan was an Investment Manager for Southeast Asia at LGT Venture Philanthropy, a global impact investing firm headquartered in Europe. For six years, Joan was primarily responsible for the sourcing, screening, execution and management of LGT VP’s deals in the region.

In 2015, Joan also served as a consultant to the Department of Trade and Industry of the Republic of the Philippines, advising the Office of the Secretary on matters related to MSME development, tech startups, innovation, inclusive business and social enterprise. Joan holds a BSc in Management Engineering with a minor in English Literature, cum laude, from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.

What is unique about Kickstart Ventures?

Since 2012, Kickstart has been one of the central players in the Philippine startup ecosystem. Today, we manage $60M across two funds for Globe, the country’s leading telco. We’ve made 45 investments across 7 countries — 30 of which started in the Philippines, making us the most active CVC in the country, with an expanding international footprint.

Later this year, Kickstart will see the launch of the ACTIVE Fund, a $150M corporate venture capital fund backed by the Ayala Corporation, with the aim of investing between $2-10M in Series A to C startups worldwide that are of strategic relevance to the group.

Ayala Corporation is the country’s oldest conglomerate, with interests spanning across property, banking, telecommunications and water utilities, energy, industrials, infrastructure, healthcare, and education. We offer a compelling platform for startups seeking access to the Philippines market, and beyond.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

The great thing about being an investor is that there’s always something new to understand and explore — whether it’s a new technology, market, or business model. In this role, there’s always a good chance that you’ll meet interesting people and make unexpected connections, which is a real gift. It’s also gratifying to be able to connect startups to other companies or investors, for potential commercial partnership or investment.

In terms of sectors, I really enjoy meeting companies in the digital content space, as I think there’s a lot of transformation happening here right now. B2B solutions are super interesting: whether it’s in the areas of payments, commerce, or logistics; digital collaboration and productivity tools; or AI-powered planning and analytics platforms. Finally, digital healthcare is also highly-relevant, as technology is allowing for huge improvements in the way healthcare is delivered.

Which part of an investment do you enjoy most discussing with a founder?

I’m always most interested in how well the Founder understands the problem and the market they’re trying to serve: do they know who their customers are; have they gotten to the core need of the customer; and are they meeting that need in the right way, given the dynamics of the market?

What are your 3 top tips on how to make the most of the mentoring hours?

1. Come prepared; start with the end in mind – If it’s your first time to meet your mentor: (1) try to research their background / expertise beforehand, and (2) be prepared to provide context and background about yourself / your company, in order to frame your problem / question. Be clear about what you want to get out of the session. With mentoring, there’s a higher chance that you’ll get something out of it if you put work into it, as well.

2. Build a connection – Ideally, a mentoring session should be the start of a relationship, not an end in itself. Of course, you can’t plan for chemistry (or lack thereof), but if you bring your authentic self to your session and make a positive impression (it helps to be prepared!), then there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to continue the conversation with a mentor even after your hour is up.

3. Pay it forward – We can all point to a time when someone’s support or belief in us made all the difference in our lives. Often, this support is freely given — pure grace — and is almost impossible to repay. That’s OK. Pay it forward, and make all the difference in someone else’s life one day.

What advice are you giving to startups on how to navigate COVID-19? Are you giving the same advice to scale-ups (post series B)?

To quote another VC (shout-out to Paul Santos): “Survival is the new growth.”

– With the volatility of the situation, startups must structure their organization to be able to survive for at least the next 18 months. Cutting costs quickly and decisively is necessary.

– Determine what capital you will need to survive and consider all practical sources for this capital. Fundraising will slow down and become more challenging, with investors likely to demand more rigor and lower valuations.

Explore short- to medium-term revenue opportunities, which may not have been part of “Plan A.”

– The appetite for investments has shifted. Getting cash inflow during this period is increasingly difficult, and investors are more cautious than ever. This and more, has taught startups to always ensure healthy reserves for the months ahead, and set focused goals on evolving their business models.

As for startups that have reached the scale-up stage, they will usually have already gone through much more than earlier-stage startups and so their founders and leaders will usually have a better grasp of what they need to be doing during difficult times. It’s also at this point that if they’ll have infused their leadership with more experienced leaders whose experience they can further lean on. Our role for these kinds of startups tend to be about being a sounding board and helping them think through their plans and offer our perspective rather than giving discrete pieces of advice.


Michelle Chang, DTRIBE Capital

Michelle Chang

Michelle is relentless in her pursuit of seeking out and backing tech entrepreneurs with bold visions that will transform the future. She also wants more female founders to get a seat at the table. She is a seasoned technology and VC executive, with pan-Asian experience at leading VC funds and diverse insight spanning e-commerce marketing, business development and finance. Her career has included her time at Vertex Venture Holdings, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, where she was part of the SEA investment team and facilitated global fundraising efforts. Michelle is an entrepreneur in her own right. Prior to joining us at DTRIBE, she was part of growth teams in global leading tech start-ups in Taiwan and Singapore. Notably, Michelle was responsible for scaling luxury e-commerce platform Reebonz where she was its first employee in Taiwan, and led the growth of the digital business from the ground up to nearly $USD1 million in its first year. Michelle earned her Masters in Financial Markets and Regulations at the Duisenberg School of Finance in 2014.

What is unique about DTRIBE Capital?

DTRIBE Capital’s founder Martin Berry is a successful entrepreneur himself, having built and scaled companies from 0 to 1. DTRIBE is there for its founders, working together towards success. We invest from a balance sheet of permanent capital and genuinely care for the people we work with.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

I most enjoy looking at Enterprise Software and Direct-to-Consumer companies. I also love meeting with entrepreneurs passionate about the problems he/she is solving, and finding the right product market fit.

Which part of an investment do you enjoy most discussing with a founder?

I get excited talking about the product and go-to-market strategy. This is a great way to see if the founder is customer centric and not fall in love with the product itself. The ability to test and learn, iterating along the way based on customer’s feedback is the key to success.

What are your 3 top tips on how to make the most of the mentoring hours?

1. Ask your mentor for feedback

2. As an early stage founder, focus on sharing how you’re solving problems for your customers instead of showing financial projections and business planning.

3. Keep hustling and don’t be discouraged if other investors reject or question you. You just need investors who understand your business and believe in you.

What advice are you giving to startups on how to navigate COVID-19? Are you giving the same advice to scale-ups (post series B)?

This is a great opportunity for your company to focus on what really matters, such as customers’ feedback and improving UI design. Now is the time to be resourceful. Your company’s ability to be agile and adjust to market trends is the key to success. As for scale-ups, I suggest that you aim to be frugal and extend your runway for as long as possible to reach your next milestone.


Selvam Moorthy, Singtel Innov8

Selvam Moorthy Singtel Innov8

Selvam is a Director of Investments with Singtel Innov8 and is focused on investments in South-East Asia and Australia.

Before Innov8, Selvam was the Head of Investments at tryb Capital, leading investments in the fintech space. Prior to that, he was a Principal with the investment team of Formation 8, which focused on diversified technology investments globally. Selvam was also a Vice President with Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS), that specialises in global real estate investments. Prior to EDIS, Selvam was part of the investment banking teams at UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Before joining UBS, Selvam was part of the investments team at Temasek Holdings, covering the consumer and lifestyle sector.

Selvam has executed numerous deals in Asia and the US across various sectors, including fintech, consumer, telecommunications, media, technology, financial institutions as well as healthcare, among others.

Selvam holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the National University of Singapore and a Masters of Science in Applied Finance from Singapore Management University.

Corporate Profile

Singtel Innov8 is a corporate venture capital fund with its own set of decision-making, approval and funding processes. It has a fund size of US$250 million, with presence in Singapore, Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and other markets.

Innov8 focuses its investments on technologies and solutions that lead to quantum changes in network capabilities, next-generation devices, digital content services and enablers to enhance customer experience. It works closely with the ecosystem of leading innovators, developers, government agencies, R&D and capital providers to bring cutting-edge technologies and solutions to the various markets the Singtel Group operates in.

Value Proposition

In a highly competitive world, the commercialisation of any product or service is critical to the survival and eventual success of new ventures. And key to that is access to markets.

Innov8 is a good platform to leverage the Singtel Group’s mobile customer base from both developed and emerging markets in more than 20 countries and enterprise customers through its network of offices throughout Asia Pacific, Europe and the USA. In addition, the Singtel Group’s assets, including subject matter experts and infrastructure will also be valuable resources throughout the development stages of any venture.

Investment Strategy

Our objective is to identify innovative companies with technologies that can potentially enhance the capabilities of Singtel Group operators in delivering solutions across various product segments and verticals. By leveraging our experience and strong industry network, we help companies at every stage of their growth from early product development to eventual commercialisation in the various markets.

Investment Process

Upon receiving an enquiry, a referral or a recommendation, we will conduct a preliminary screening to determine if the technology or idea meets our investment criteria and is within our focus areas. If it does, we will contact you for an introductory meeting, presentation or conference call to determine if we would like to pursue the opportunity further.

A huge thank you to all the investors who have supported us so far and to all the female founders who have applied!

To read about tips and tricks on how to impress the mentors, check out A Guide to Getting to What You Want written by Alexandra Baranowski from Playfair Capital.

Do keep an eye on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages and blog for updates!

If you’re a male founder and would still like to pitch us, please submit your application on our open-to-anyone website pitch page.