Ffmh 4th Edition Meet The Investors Part 1

We’re thrilled to introduce an awesome line-up of new mentors joining us from BEENEXT, Vertex Ventures, White Star Capital, Quest Ventures, FEBE Ventures and Moonshot Ventures! As each session is only 13-minutes long, founders, please do your due diligence and read up about insights into the mentors’ background, their investment strategy, what they enjoy discussing with founders and their top tips for office hours below.

In the fourth edition of Female Founders Mentoring Hours, we’re heartened by the number of returning mentors and new mentors alike joining us to achieve the same vision. As Cocoon Capital plans to run FFMH every 4 months, do drop Lauren (lauren@cocooncap.com) an email to find out how you can join us as a mentor to kickass female founders!

Please check out the rest of the series from the first three editions of FFMH here.

If you are a female founder in the seed or Series A stage, apply now at https://bit.ly/ffmh-slt-2021!

Yi (Esther) Bian, BEENEXT


Yi (Esther) Bian joined BEENEXT in 2018 and works in the investment team (Singapore). Esther holds an MPA Degree from LSE and a Bachelor Degree in Statistics from UCL. She co-founded ReLux (Beijing), a Pre-Owned Luxury Goods e-commerce platform in 2014. She also worked as a policy consultant at McKinsey & Company and Facebook before.

What is unique about BEENEXT?

Beenext is a founder-centred fund investing across India, SEA, and Japan.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

Early-stage, tech-driven startup founded by founders with a mission to have an impact.

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

His or her personal stories which are relevant to the business that he or she is building.

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

1. Keep the question specific

2. Be honest about his/her concern and be open to share

3. Feel free to ask an intro

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. Manage the cash flow wisely 

2. Unite the team 

3. Think more creatively and prepare well for a post-covid era

Same advice to all companies.


Pui Yan Leung, Vertex Ventures

Pui Yan Vvsea (1)

Pui Yan is Executive Director, Investment at Vertex Ventures SEA and focuses on opportunities in Southeast Asia. Pui Yan was previously an Investment Director at Singtel Innov8, the Corporate VC arm of Singtel.  Prior to that, she assumed a range of operating roles, including Business Development, Product Marketing, Strategy, and Engineering. She is part of the Kauffman Fellowship, which is a leadership and venture capital-focused program for US and global investors.

What is unique about Vertex Ventures?

Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India invest in high-growth tech start-ups seeking their first round of institutional venture capital funding in Southeast Asia and India.  The current active portfolio comprises over 50 investments including Grab, Patsnap, FirstCry, AsianParents, 17Live, Nium, Validus, HappyFresh, Storehub, Sunday, Tanihub, Warung Pintar, and others. Our investment approach is to work very closely to help our portfolio companies to scale and become champions.  We are able to provide guidance and advice to start-ups because we have a lot of experience in scaling our portfolio companies from early-stage to significant exits through IPOs or M&A. Our ethos is selective investing and giving quality efforts to portfolio companies rather than prolific investing in a lot of deals.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

We mainly focus on Series A opportunities in Southeast Asia and India across various categories, including Consumer Internet, Enterprise Technology, Fintech, and Digital Health. Some of our theses are consumption upgrading, enabling/empowering SMEs, enabling commerce/services for the masses, enabling market transparency/efficiency in B2B/Enterprise.

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

Hearing the Founders share their personal journeys. Understanding what motivated them to become entrepreneurs and to start their businesses. Listening to their visions – What difference would they make? Why would they become champions? How could we as investors help them get there?

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

1. Set the context – Be prepared to give a short and sharp introduction of your business

2. Come prepared – Have in mind a couple of areas that you’d like to dive into during the session

3. Keep an open mind – Instead of seeking straight answers during the allocated time, use these conversations as a way to clarify your own thought process.

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)?

Scrutinize your cashflow. Recalibrate near-term growth strategies where necessary. Seize new opportunities should they arise. Maintain open communication with your team.


Joe Wei, White Star Capital


Joe is a Venture Partner at White Star Capital, who together with Shun Nagao, leads the fund’s investments in Asia.

Joe spent 11 years with Deutsche Bank in London and Hong Kong, working across the M&A, Industrials and TMT teams. After leaving investment banking, he joined Nova Founders Group and has since spent his time primarily investing in and working with Fintech start-ups, including CompareAsia Group – Asia’s leading financial comparison platform, Frank.co.th – a leading Insurtech platform in Thailand (acquired by FWD Group).  He subsequently was also a co-founder of Paycelerate Group, a Hong Kong based fintech start-up focussed on working capital financing solutions.

What is unique about White Star Capital?

White Star Capital is a global early-stage VC platform with a global footprint spanning NY, Montreal/Toronto, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo.  We are particularly focused on helping start-ups expand outside their home markets and scale rapidly and successfully.  Our unique global footprint means we are often able to bring a unique perspective on companies/business models and can often bring our experience and expertise from one region to another to help companies scale faster as well as exploit potential synergies between portfolio companies. 

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

We are a generalist fund but are particularly focussed on areas such as Consumer (D2C/Foodtech), Healthtech, Fintech, AI, Industrialtech and Mobility.  I’m particularly excited about Insurtech personally.

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

How we can add value post-investment – we are active investors so love to do very detailed DD to learn the nuts and bolts of the business and eager to find areas that we can help our companies going forward as members of their Board. 

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

1. Be goal-driven: Show up on time and with key areas pre-identified that you’re looking for help on.

2. Be data-driven: Try to arm yourself with relevant facts/data ahead of time that you think will likely be relevant

3. Follow-up:  VCs are busy people so less likely to re-engage after a session. We would more often than not be interested to hear if our advice made sense, was relevant, and if not, to provide alternative suggestions. We also would be interested in hearing feedback, to help us learn as well, so we can bring that knowledge forward to other portfolio or mentee companies.

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)?

There isn’t very prescriptive advice – depends on whether the business model type was positively or negatively impacted by COVID (e.g. Telehealth vs Travel) and what their runway is. We are looking at likely scenarios for vaccine roll-outs and re-openings on a country-by-country basis and mapping out potential impacts on consumer demand, scaling, and funding environment. Advice, therefore, ends up being relatively bespoke even before taking into account stage or geography.


Gwen Sim, Quest Ventures

Gwen Sim


Gwen is a senior analyst at Quest Ventures. Prior to Quest, she spent some time in Burda Principal Investments looking at late-stage opportunities in the Southeast Asian region, allowing her to understand the varying needs of startups across different stages. Gwen also had the opportunity to work for an early-stage edtech startup in New York City for a year, under the NUS Overseas Colleges program. Gwen graduated from National University of Singapore with a Bachelor Degree in Finance.

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

At Quest, we are sector agnostic but we do enjoy looking at sectors that are still nascent and provide the first cheque to visionary founders. 

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

I personally love learning about the team’s vision and end goals of their business. The stories behind what drove them to start a company is often very unique and inspiring to hear. 

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

1. Set goals for yourself and know exactly what you want to get out of the mentoring hours

2. Do your homework on who is going to be present, and how you can engage them in conversations based on the nature of their fund, their past experiences, etc

3. Be humble and genuine during conversations, nothing beats forming a real relationship with a mentor

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)?

Be open to different ways of running the business, don’t be afraid to pivot. Take this opportunity to identify what is core to the business, and a reminder to keep operations lean and efficient in the future. 


Olivier Raussin, FEBE Ventures


Olivier Raussin – Co-founder & Managing Partner at FEBE Ventures Previously, Olivier was General Partner at Project A Ventures. He was a Tech entrepreneur and also held executive roles at Google, YouTube, Microsoft.

What is unique about your fund?

FEBE Ventures, which stands for “For Entrepreneurs, By Entrepreneurs”, is a team of 4 General Partners, who have backed 60+ startups, created 30+ companies and directly managed 6,000 employees in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. 

We’re a 25M$ VC fund that is registered in Singapore and is backed by reputable tech entrepreneurs and family offices. We’re fortunate for their expertise in Asia and technology to help us on our journey to support entrepreneurs build impactful companies of tomorrow. At FEBE,  we invest in mission-driven founders using technology to solve important problems and make a positive impact on millions in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. 

FEBE as an Investment platform takes a founder-centric approach to early-stage investing and provides portfolio companies with entrepreneurial know-how, experience-based advice and local resources for business development, fundraising, talent acquisition, software development, and regulatory.

What investments do you enjoy looking at? 

We are an early-stage fund registered in Singapore with an emphasis on the Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore technology ecosystems. 

Within technology, we are sector agnostic in terms of both sectors B2B, B2C Education, Healthcare, Logistic, Fintech, Proptech, O2O, Mobility.

In terms of business model, we like investing in SaaS & Marketplace, mainly proven businesses that are targeting the SEA emerging middle class.

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

The top 5 things we enjoy discussing with a founder are also the criteria qualities that we look for in the team: 

– Ethics & integrity: Founders & investors must build together a long-term business relationship based on ethics, honesty, trustworthiness, and transparency. 

– Passion for your industry: We like founders who are passionate about their market as they will better handle the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial life 

– Execution skill: We need to see hustle, structured, and data-driven execution 

– Long term vision & selling the dream: On top of having a crystal clear vision, great founders have to be very inspiring, convincing through sharing their dream and story 

– Self-aware & constantly learning: We like founders who know the unknowns and are aware of their own limits to quickly address them, either by learning or hiring talents with complementary profiles to fill in the gap.

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

– Company culture & Organizational 

– Fundraising & Governance 

– Go to market & Regional expansion

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 are living through a complex & critical situation, so we remain humble in our assessments of the situation and our offer our 3 advices to founders:

– Entrepreneurs need to take care of their mental health & physical health 

– Communicate transparently and humanly with all their stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and investors 

– Cash is king.

  • Try to cut unessential costs, stop all side-projects and focus on their core business that’s already working. 
  • Stress-test their business plan including worst-case scenarios. Improve cash flow and reduce burn to increase runway. 
  • Execute fast, negotiate hard, and have daily meetings to monitor all KPIs 
  • Expect that new fundraising will be more difficult. So better to cultivate relationships with existing investors.

Crisis often brings a change of habit & new opportunities for innovation for adaptable, decisive startups.


Sagar Tandon, Moonshot Ventures

Sagar Professional (1)

Sagar has 7+ years of experience as an entrepreneur, operator, venture capitalist, and gender-lens investor. He has led investments in 15+ early-stage startups in India and Indonesia. Involved in setting up two impact VC funds in S/SE Asia.  Currently, Founding Member at Moonshot Ventures and Investor-In-Residence at MIT-D Lab.

What is unique about your fund?

Indonesia Women Empowerment Fund is a 100% Gender-lens fund; we back female entrepreneurs at very early-stage pre-seed/seed stages, which have an underlying business model to serve MSMEs, unemployed and employed women, and hence improve economic empowerment. 

What investments do you enjoy looking at?

I have interests in ventures providing market access, productivity tools (SaaS),  and financial services (beyond credit) to gig economy workers and MSMEs. 

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

Focus on niche markets, milestones, and product-market fit.

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

1. Clarity on what you are looking for – be precise and to the point

2. Be open with your challenges, feel free to be vulnerable 

3. See mentoring as a conversation with someone who believes in you. Just see it as a friendly conversation

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. Strengthening the core of the startups: increase revenue, reduce costs (be frugal, be nimble), and improve margins – that’s it period

2. Go all-in with 100% online experience and try to sustain post-pandemic too

3. I won’t advise the same thing to the post-series B startups, as their scale factor is different


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 for funding on our portal here.