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Daily Markup #601: Khailee Ng on how 500 Global picks out diamonds in the rough to reveal the global potential of Southeast Asian startups

Ching Yee Ho



Credit: VulcanPost

An eye for diamonds in the rough

  • What’s the secret formula for spotting Southeast Asian startups with global potential? Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500 Global, advised investors that the work that these startups do may not seem glamorous, but they are tackling hyper-localized problems.
  • That’s why 500 Global got in early with Bukalapak — the company’s market penetration was only 2-3% when we backed the team. Another example is Indonesian aquaculture startup, eFishery.
  • “These startups can find it very difficult to raise money because the problem is so niche and only applied to people on the outskirts of the cities,” Khailee highlighted. “Today [eFishery is] making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and they’ve been profitable for the past three years.”
  • Being an early believer has paid off for 500 Global, which counts unicorns like Grab, Carsome, and Carousell as portfolio companies. 
  • Amid ongoing unstable economic conditions, some may opine that investments are slowing down and venture capital firms are cutting fewer checks. Khailee pointed out that companies like Apple and Microsoft were funded during down cycles.
  • “There are lots of entrepreneurs building great companies, and those who stayed alive amidst the pandemic are the fittest of the fit,” he added.
  • Read the full coverage in VulcanPost.

Ching Yee Ho