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Value creation pros on the many facets of tech founders in ASEAN

Published on May 9, 2023

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In a recent episode of Indonesia Digital Deconstructed, host Leighton Cosseboom Principal of Comms at AC Ventures (ACV) welcomed his colleague Samira Shihab, Principal of Value Creation at ACV; and Chandan Deep, VP of Strategy and Operations at B Capital for a thought-provoking conversation on their experiences in the startup space. 

Both Chandan and Samira occupy similar stations in the regional tech scene, providing value creation and portfolio support at their respective firms.  

The many facets of startup founders

When asked what surprised her most about the job coming into it, Samira touched on the diversity of founders and the absence of a one-size-fits-all formula for knowing who will be successful. She emphasized that a founder’s success hinges on the right match between their skillset and the industry, as well as the market opportunity. 

“It’s wild how diverse our founders are, with backgrounds ranging from unicorn graduates to operational experts and visionary strategists,” said Samira. “It’s impossible to guess who the best founder in the room might be; there’s no secret formula or sauce. That’s one of the things that really surprised me.”

Chandan shared her increased admiration for founders since joining B Capital, specifically in the context of grit, resilience, and optimism. She also noted the surprising lack of female founders in the industry, despite being aware of the statistics beforehand.

Supporting women in tech

The conversation led to a discussion about Connected Women and Stellar Women, initiatives started by Chandan and Samira respectively, to support women in tech and female entrepreneurs. By promoting these women-focused community initiatives, they hope to improve representation and encourage more female founders to join the startup game.

“Joining forces with Meta, Google, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and MasterCard, we built a tribe and connected with women across these tech giants, becoming a force multiplier,” explained Chandan about the origins of Connected Women. “It’s crucial to have thought partners, champions, and sponsors to support each other and tackle challenges together. We started Connected Women in Singapore, and it resonated globally, expanding to the US, Sydney, and London, taking on a life of its own.”

Where impact meets value creation in VC

Chandan and Samira shared their motivations for joining the venture capital industry. Chandan was driven by a desire to create impact at scale and contribute to the growth of the startup ecosystem, while Samira relished the excitement of creating and building value creation processes in a role that didn’t exist before.

“I think the most fun part of the job, and what allows me to still wear my founder hat, is creating my own blueprint for the value creation team while building processes. It’s a thrilling adventure, continuously optimizing for both the firm and our founders in a market that definitely keeps you on your toes.”

Regional trends and opportunities

Regarding regional trends, Chandan highlighted the depth of the digital economy in India, with successful B2B companies emerging from the country. In Southeast Asia, she noted that while there have been some B2C successes, the B2B market is still nascent, offering significant opportunities for B Capital’s operating team to provide value and support.

She said, “The key difference between India and Southeast Asia’s tech sector lies in their depth, with India demonstrating more success stories in B2B investments. While Southeast Asia has seen phenomenal B2C successes – you know, you’ve got the Gojeks and Grabs of the world – its B2B market remains in its early days.”

Get the full episode for free on Spotify, Apple, and Google.

See also: AC Ventures champions female founders in US$421B opportunity
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