Kuan Hsu, Arnaud Bonzom and Frank Lee talk about how local founders can effectively pitch to investors at Echelon Central Asia
Having discussed the trends in the Southeast Asia startup landscape and how investors pick out startups to invest, e27 correspondent Elaine Huang, with Kuanhua Hsu (General Partner, KK Fund), Arnaud Bonzom (Director of Special Projects, 500 Startups) and Frank Lee (Investment Manager, TNF Ventures) turned to answer a burning question that the Kazakh attendees were eager to hear about — how young startups in a nascent ecosystem like Kazakhstan can catch the eye of investors.
Prove that you are tackling a real problem
Lee suggested that Kazakh startups need to understand the market and find the right time to enter it.
“Find out what is the specialty of Central Asia. Locate the niche market and tackle it. Entrepreneurs have to convince investors that the market exists,” he said.
Hsu emphasised the importance of attending tech conferences like Echelon Central Asia. Just for the reason that it helps investors and startups mingle and network, allowing them to address challenges together.
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“We need to look at the exit opportunities in the ecosystem because we as investors are being evaluated on how [our portfolio] is generating returns,” he added.
“I would say do your research. We [as investors] want to understand how the companies in Kazakhstan can scale internationally. We also need to understand whether other global startups such as Uber are making a presence in Kazakhstan,” Bonzom said.
Breaking into a foreign market
On how Kazakhstan startups can break into Southeast Asia, the panellists offered some universal advice.
First, startups need to find their strengths and figure out whether they can offer better services than the local players.
Lee said that foreign startups trying to raise money in a particular country need to establish a presence there first.
Startups also need to do their homework on VCs.
“Startups need to look at which VCs are most suitable. They can try to talk to the portfolio companies that VCs have invested in. Look at these companies and find out how the VCs have been helping,” Hsu concluded.
Kazakhstan and all of Central Asia are ripe for the picking. All that startups need to do is start.
Join us before the end of 2015 at Echelon Central Asia! Held on December 2-3, Echelon Central Asia is a two-day conference held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, aimed to create a bridge between Central and Southeast Asia.
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