3 min read

Daily Markup #538: Vishal Harnal on fundraising & value corrections; Involve Asia hiring amid The Great Layoff; Eric Cheng runs steady ship at Carsome

Ching Yee Ho



Credit: The Unreasonable Podcast

It’s not unicorns & rainbows nor doom & gloom

  • “Doom and gloom messages may often be self-serving; it’s always a great time to build,” said Vishal Harnal, Managing Partner, 500 Global on The Unreasonable Podcast where he discusses all the burning topics on a founder’s mind these days.  
  • “Great companies will be formed regardless of the macroenvironment because startups are not a macroeconomic play. They’re actually going against the grain; here’s an opportunity; here’s what I want to build. It’s going to challenge a convention, and if you’re not up for challenging a convention – whether it’s in the form of a challenging macroeconomic market or a dominant business practice – you’re not going to build a great company,” he adds.
  • Vishal believes that successful companies will emerge in Southeast Asia even during this down market because “a lot of money has been raised in Southeast Asia [in 2020 and 2021] to be deployed in Southeast Asia, and VC firms are going to find investment opportunities that are right-priced or under-written properly on their future growth prospects.”
  • So, what should founders do? “If you’re thinking of starting a company, don’t let whatever is happening in the macroenvironment weigh you down. Continue to build and grow your company. If you’re the founder of a later stage company, the time to raise is usually extended by 3-4 months so bake that into consideration when you’re going out to fundraise. It will take longer, but it doesn’t mean you can’t,” shares Vishal.
  • Listen to the full podcast episode on Spotify
Credit: Adobo Magazine

The light at the end of the tunnel

  • The Great Layoff may be shaking the Southeast Asia tech ecosystem, but Rene E. Menezes, Co-founder & President of 500-backed martech startup Involve Asia, remains positive.
  • “Talent in this industry will always be in demand. Everything is becoming more powered or influenced by tech,” Rene commented. “I believe many companies in the industry are looking forward to being able to offer those recently left without jobs, a new role in their companies.”
  • “Data specialists, developers, engineers, marketers, and sales professionals will still find many opportunities in the market,” he said, adding that Involve has about 50 positions vacant across the region that the team is looking to fill by the end of 2022.
  • He believes with some course correction, the e-commerce industry will be able to withstand market impacts from the Ukraine war and inflation. However, he cautioned that the tech sector needs to be more careful and strategic about corporate spending and expansion.
  • Read the full interview on Tech Wire Asia.
Credit: Tatler

Steady at the wheel

  • “Since day one, Carsome’s mission has been laser focused, as we take on a customer-first approach in all that we do in order to gain users’ confidence,” explained Co-founder & Group CEO Eric Cheng of the 500-backed company on how the business has been doing well. “After all, it is important to build trust, especially in a business that’s predominantly dealing with used cars.”
  • Launched in 2015 in Malaysia with just a seed funding of US$350,000, today, Carsome has 9,500 dealers on its platform throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, over 100 Carsome centers in 50 cities, and a whopping 4 million bids made for cars across Southeast Asia.
  • The company also runs Carsome Academy, an automotive technical institute that helps produce high-skilled and industry-ready workers through technical education and practical training. It also guarantees students a job upon completion of the year-long course.
  • “We are just at the beginning of digitally disrupting the used car market, and we aim to continue and uplift the entire customer experience for users in their journey towards car ownership by developing new products such as financing, insurance, and more, to provide deserved peace of mind to all our customers,” Eric said.
  • Read the full interview on Tatler.

Ching Yee Ho