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Founders need to understand the exit landscape from the perspective of financial investors, i.e. Venture Capital (VC) or Private Equity (PE) Fund. Recently, Garena, South East Asia (SEA) most valuable tech startup, rebranded into SEA Ltd (look at the wordplay here) with $550m fresh funding and it was reported to appoint Goldman Sachs for a $1bn IPO in the US, the largest ever IPO ever from a SEA-based tech startup.

SEA vs Global Tech Public Market

According to the TechInAsia, there have only been 13 tech IPOs (consumer facing, web 2.0 type) since 2001 from SEA startups. However, these are…

110 investors in 274 investments worth $2.2b in total

Below are some snapshots from my research on the State of South East Asia (SEA) Technology Startup Ecosystem 2016 publish on 7 Feb 2017. The full insights is available on Slideshare here.

In one section of this research, we dived deep into the details active investors in SEA in 2016, i.e. they had at least 1 investments in 2016 and more than 1 deals before 2016. This is intended to be an education piece for myself and aspiring founders to understand the funding landscape in SEA.


  • Past investment records don’t…

Since I came back to Malaysia, I have had the privilege to speak to many different people in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Startup founders, startup employees, incubator/accelerator CEO, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, and anyone who cared to discuss with me about venture funding in the SEA startup scene. I learnt a great deal about the ecosystem by listening to these narratives and experiences. However, when I contrast this to my VC experience in London, there is a common theme that kept coming up. VC only provides capital, everything else that came from them are generally bad. …

I crunched some data from Pitchbook and Crunchbase on the SEA funding. Only startups that have been backed by angels, seed fund, incubators/accelerators and venture capital are included in my analysis. The following are my findings and views on the landscape in 2016:

  • Number of deals in SEA dropped by 32% from 2015
  • Median deal size also hit record high at $1m
  • Total funding hits record high at $2.2bn in 2016 (41% GAGR from 2013)
  • HOWEVER, 80% of these $2.2bn went to the 8 most well-funded startups.
  • That includes 6 Singapore-based startups (Grab, Garena, Paktor, Trax Image Recognition and AstroScale…

In an effort to understand the SEA startup funding ecosystem in 2016, I crunched though some data today and below are two slides of my findings:

Where the money comes from:

  • Most active investors in 2016 are still mostly non-SEA based fund
  • Increase in number of early stage funding in B2C FinTech solutions and AI/ML startups
  • Decrease in number of marketplace platforms — more of new players are serving niche market.

Where the money goes to:

I have been spending some time reading about the technology ecosystem in Malaysia from many different aspects. It’s fair to say Malaysian tech entrepreneurship ecosystem is still quite nascent compared to other countries.

Historically, we can broadly bucket most of the successful Malaysian entrepreneurs into two categories.

First group of entrepreneurs leveraged on local resources and then looked far beyond the Malaysian market — they were very successful at bringing the Malaysian competitive advantages overseas with product/commodities based businesses. Once the foundation is stable, an aggressive expansion plan will propel the company to become a global giant. …

In the past, my personal growth came from two different phases: high school and college & university. The former cemented my mental strength to deal with various emotions and the latter opened up my mind with many thought-provoking perspectives and experiences.

As I stepped into, what I believe will be, my 3rd phase of my growth, I have decided to start maintaining a blog. This will mainly serve as a platform for me to organise my thought and a convenient way to crowdsource for feedback for me to keep learning and growing.

Post-university life… I believe more life challenges will…

Eric Tan

Tech, Entrepreneurship, VC and everything in between.

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