At Momentum Works, we devised a recruitment exercise for anyone who applies to join us (and pass the first round of screening), with questions ranging from investment decision, business model analysis to marketing strategy/execution. The purpose is to assess the candidate’s way to approach, analyse/dissect, and solve problems. 

One question is “name the three most famous VCs in Southeast Asia and why they are famous”. The purpose of this question was really to see how much they know about the tech investment ecosystem, how they would research/find the information, and how they define “famous’.  

Especially when most candidates are not from tech background – in fact, many are university students (applying for internships) and fresh graduates (our biggest pool of joiners). 

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly), the answers have been fairly consistent (after recording a few hundred entries). 

Please take a note that these candidates are mostly not coming from startups nor venture capitalists circle. Surprisingly, 500 Startups which in certain context is also known as 500 Durians is mentioned the most in our candidates’ answer sheets, followed by Golden Gate Ventures, and East Ventures.

So how do these VCs become this “well-known” among our candidates?

I would say that most of the candidates are referring to the same google search. This is the first thing popped up on Google search for “VC in Southeast Asia” keywords.

These three VCs have been around the region for a very long time, and collectively boast a pretty large portfolio in the region. We could easily mention big names such as Grab, Tokopedia, Ruang Guru, Carousel which are backed by one or some of these VCs.

Other than operating in more than 8 countries and having 200+ companies in their portfolio, for  500 Startups, they recently got popular in Indonesia due to the news of the passing of one of their partners, Ashraf Sinclair – who happened to be the husband to Indonesian famous singer, Bunga Citra Lestari.

It is also worth mentioning that other than the 3 VCs, names such as Gobi Partners, Wavemaker, Sequoia, Vertex, and B Capital made it to the list. Interestingly, female candidates mentioned VCs behind the presumably services or platforms they are familiar with. For instance, Jungle Ventures was mentioned for its famous Pomelo and Sociolla. We hardly see it mentioned by any male candidates. 

I expect Alpha JWC Ventures to make it to the list because it has familiar names to people in their 20s to 30s such as Kopi Kenangan, Lemonilo, Kredivo, and Funding Societies – and it appears 2nd on google search as well. However, I think out of the usual tech ecosystem the name somehow does not register as much.

This is interesting because we have interacted with a fairly good number of international LPs who occasionally take a look at, or get pitched by, VCs from (or focused on) Southeast Asia. What we discovered is – many of them do not have much more ways compared to the aspiring super interns in basic desktop research. 

If you are running a VC in the region, maybe you would try to find a way to get as famous as the likes of 500 Durians, Golden Gates and East ventures to the untrained eyes? 

So for the rest, which VCs are the most well-known according to you? (not according to Google search, please – as we presume that you are part of the ecosystem)

And we recently ran an anonymous survey on which VC is liked the most by the industry players. If you have been interacting with VCs in Southeast Asia, we encourage you to share your favourite in this link.

Oh did I mention we would also ask which VC you hate the most in the same survey?

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.