Malaysia-based VC RHL Ventures has appointed Kong Chin Joe as its latest Venture Partner.
Kong was formerly a Director at KHK Development, a real estate development company. Her role involved managing the development of joint venture residential projects in Australia, including a luxury residential tower in Melbourne’s central business district and luxury apartments in the city’s Ivanhoe suburb.
Prior to that, Kong oversaw the regional expansion and operations in Malaysia for Nirvana Asia, a leading integrated death care service provider in Asia.
Rachel Lau, who founded RHL Ventures along with fellow partners Lionel Leong and Raja Hamzah Abidin bin Raja Nong Chik in 2016, said that Kong’s deep networks globally and experience will be instrumental in helping its portfolio companies grow and scale.
RHL Ventures has made two investments to date. First, in Singapore-based mobile customer engagement and loyalty platform Perx, and second, in US-based tour merchandise startup Sidestep.
In an email interview with e27, Kong explained her motivations for joining RHL Ventures and her thoughts on the regional tech ecosystem.
Here are the edited excerpts:
What prompted your decision to join a startup-focussed VC? And why RHL Ventures?
Before I joined RHL Ventures, I was helping to manage my family office fund and we were always presented with a range of financial products.
I was always interested in investing into startups and I could’ve invested into startups as an individual but I wanted to be more strategic with my investments.
By joining a VC, my investment horizon is greatly broadened and risks are mitigated. To me, it is very important that the VC and I see eye to eye on matters and RHL Ventures is one of the very few VC’s that shares the same investments philosophy as I do.
More importantly, there’s synergy between the founders of RHL Ventures and I. RHL Ventures’ existing management is beyond professional and their investment record thus far is an evidence of their competence.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Considering the fact that I’m currently playing multiple roles, I hope that I can utilise my experience and expertise to provide different perspectives on investment decisions, operations and ultimately, monetize them.
Being in a VC keeps me on track with current and future tech trends and I wish to use this foresight to keep my businesses relevant.
Which verticals and markets are you optimistic about?
I’m optimistic about fintech and e-commerce in Southeast Asia (SEA). Most of the fintech companies are still young and growing in SEA and there isn’t a dominant player in the market as of yet.
I’m not just referring to B2C models, there’s also an array of B2B fintech models that have a lot of opportunities under the current climate.
Generally SEA is slower at adopting fintech into businesses, however, with e-commerce developing so quickly in SEA, it forces integration of fintech. The collaboration between e-commerce and FinTech will unlock a lot of possibilities.
What are your thoughts on the Southeast Asian tech landscape, with regards to Singapore and Malaysia in particular?
SEA’s tech landscape has a lot of potential compared to other more developed continents. Gaps are still left to be filled and ticket sizes are not as big as neighbouring continents.
SEA is a huge market with more than half a billion of population and economies in this region are growing fast. Both Malaysia and Singapore are strategically located within this region.
Singapore is always known as the tech hub in SEA due to support from government funds and favourable tax policies. Large scale tech forums and conferences are usually hosted in Singapore. At least in the near future, I see Singapore as being the top choice for funds and tech startups.
Malaysia has been putting in great efforts into making the country more attractive to tech companies by building a Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) called the Kuala Lumpur Internet City (KLCI). With notable investors like Alibaba’s Jack Ma on board, Malaysia will be a strong contender in SEA’s tech scene.
Funeral tech is a sector that is very nascent (and still a little taboo), do you hope to use your experience to grow this sector?
Yes, that is definitely something that I look forward to. There are very few things in life that are certain and death is one of them. I believe bereavement care tech will be educational and provide more convenience and transparency to the public.
Image Credit: RHL Ventures