Rising Giants Newsletter - February 2022 Edition
Welcome to Rising Giants - Cambodia’s #1 business & entrepreneurship podcast! 🇰🇭 Turn on 💡, Tune in 📻, Keep up 🚀
Welcome to the Rising Giant's Podcast Newsletter by Max Thornton and Dom Kalousek.
Before we begin…
During February, Dom returned back to Phnom Penh from the US to meet Max for the first time in person. Most people may not realize this but it was an incredible experience being able to meet with your co-founder 43 episode later and creating Rising Giants entirely remote - with Max located in Phnom Penh and me (Dom) in the US. It is a true testament that in today’s world, anything is possible with passion and consistency.
This trip was surreal as we had the opportunity to meet with multiple of our previous guests over coffee or drinks, record our first in person interview (what an experience!), and hosting a sundown drink social at local gin distiller Seekers thanking all of our previous guests for the time they spent recording with us this past year.
To see highlights from our sundown social at Seekers, please go to our Instagram @risinggiantsfm as we will be releasing a reel in early March from the event
Want to put a face to the names? 😉 - Here’s a pic of the 2 Rising Giant Co-Founders meeting for the first time in-person ever in Dom’s recent trip to Phnom Penh!
Our first in person interview…
During Dom’s visit to Phnom Penh, we had the please of meeting with a lot of our past guests and completed our first in-person interview with the Zoe Ng, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Raintree. Here’s a few pictures from the day of the 3 of us during and post interview at Raintree’s office next to Vattanac Capital! Huge thank you to The Idea and Raintree for pulling together the resources needed to make this happen - we both really appreciate it!
▶️ Rising Giants Recap
N.43 Langda Chea, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, BookMeBus
In this month’s episodes of Rising Giants, we had the huge pleasure of speaking with Langda Chea, founder and CEO of Bookmebus - one of Cambodia's most successful tech startup ups. BookMeBus is an on-demand transportation platform connecting national destinations and international countries in the Mekong, enabling domestic and foreign travelers to purchase bus, ferry and taxi tickets online with ease. In the episode, Langda shares with us his journey prior to founding Bookmebus us as well as his future outlook on Cambodia’s market and startup ecosystem.
N.44 Zoe Ng, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Raintree
Zoë Ng is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of Raintree. Raintree is an award-winning creative workspace in Phnom Penh, co-founded by our guest Zoë NG and Cambodian architect Hok Kang. With its unique community-focused and design-conscious approach, they’ve become a hub for creatives, entrepreneurs, technologists, young people, and professionals to come together through events, programs, and independent research projects.
📝 Venture Capital Deal Flow Highlights in Southeast Asia
Indonesia-based agri-tech startup Semaai has raised $1.25 million in its pre-seed round led by Sequoia Surge. Semaai will channel a large part of the funding to expand its engineering and product teams in India, even though the startup primarily operates in Indonesia. The startup provides customized consultancy through its team of expert agronomists, access to productivity tools such as soil testing technology as well as farming inputs such as seed and fertilizer products. Semaai plans to expand its network of service delivery centers, starting with toko tanis (agri-retailers) and eventually reaching the vast number of smallholders in rural Indonesia. (Link here.)
Vietnam e-commerce startup OpenCommerce Group has raised $7 million in a Series A funding round led by internet company VNG and venture capital firm Do Ventures. The Hanoi-based company, which provides tech solutions for sellers to create and manage their online stores with no inventory costs required, said it has supported 86,700 small and medium enterprises in 195 economies after two years of establishment. (Link here.)
Indonesian social commerce platform Grupin raises $3 million, led by Sequoia India's Surge. Grupin offers a community-based shopping experience, coupled with large discounts on bulk consumer products. The social commerce platform is looking to ride the rising tide of e-commerce that has been boosted by Covid-19 induced lockdowns. In Indonesia, e-commerce is expected to hit $60 billion by 2025 according to a report by venture builder, Momentum Works. (Link here.)
Vietnam-based social commerce platform Selly raises $2.6 million in pre-series A funding led by CyberAgent Capital, Do Ventures, Genesia Ventures, Jafco Asia and Kvision. The fresh capital will be utilized to improve product features to offer the best experience for our resellers and suppliers, as well as expand Selly presence in more remote areas in Vietnam. (Link here.)
Bangladesh-based learning app 10 Minute School, has raised $2 million of seed funding from Sequoia India’s rapid-scale up program Surge. 10 Minute School is a mobile-first online learning platform that offers affordable, accessible and highly relevant educational content to 25 million school and college students, university admission test candidates, job-seekers, and people looking for specialized skills training. The startup said that it will utilize these funds to invest in product, technology, and talent acquisition across both Bangladesh and India. (Link here.)
Vietnam-focused Infina, also known as “the Robinhood of Vietnam”, announced that it has added $4 million to its seed funding from Sequoia Capital India’s Surge program, Y Combinator, and Saison Capital. The app enables investors to pick from several asset classes, including fixed-income products, mutual funds and stock trading. It also offers fractionalized trading, which means users can invest with lower minimum amounts. (Link here.)
Indonesian-based personal health coaching app Sirka secured $2.6 million in a seed funding round led by venture capital firms AC Ventures and Wavemaker Group. The subscription-based digital health platform offers tailored weight-loss programs, which includes meal recommendations, for three to six months and counseling with its current 12 nutritionists. With its fresh funds, Sirka is working to enhance its programs by conducting more research and partnering with medical advisors and players in the food and beverage sector. (Link here.)
📰 Start-Up and Venture Capital News in Southeast Asia
🇰🇭 The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has outlined highlighting successful investors in Cambodia will be key to attracting more quality foreign direct investment from Indonesia into the Kingdom. (Written by Cambodia Investment Review).
🇮🇩 Taiwan-based Foxconn will launch an investment to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries in Indonesia in the Q3.
🇻🇳 ThinkZone Ventures announces ThinkZone Fund II with $60 million in fund size and the largest local resources in Vietnam.
🇧🇩 2022 outlook on the Bangladeshi startup ecosystem - how internet and inclusive platforms are playing key roles in development of the country’s next unicorn.
🇵🇭 Peter Thiel-backed Philippine Fintech startup raises $31 Million and aims to be a one-stop shop for Southeast Asia’s financial needs.
🇳🇵Learn more about the Nepalese ed-tech startup McqHall - a venture focusing on creating an all in one solution for exam preparation.
📚 Knowledge Base: Entrepreneur and Investor Learning Resources
In this week’s resource, we want to share with you Singha sponsored platform Lift It Up! - a community page that caters to young Cambodian professionals and entrepreneurs who seek to lift their careers to the next level. The professional training and coaching platform will host monthly talk show series featuring inspiring leaders across the industries, interactive mini-games with attractive prizes, and daily informative yet motivational articles. To learn more, check out the link here.
Additional Resources To Check Out:
💡 Amazing resource for Founders & Pre-Founders by Conscious VC - a must read.
👨🏼💻 Frontier Market Job Opportunities
Gojo and Company, Inc. is hiring for an Associate Venture Builder in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Belt Road Capital is hiring for an Investment Manager in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Belt Road Capital is hiring for an Investment Director in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Zillion United is hiring for an Investment Analyst in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Mekong Strategic Partners is hiring for a Senior Finance Specialist in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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🧐 What is Rising Giants?
Rising Giants was created in 2021 by Max Thornton and Dominic Kalousek after realizing there were limited outlets for gaining insight into the startup and investment ecosystem in the Cambodian and Southeast Asia markets.
Rising Giants serves as an upbeat medium for entrepreneurs and investors to share their experience working and living in some of the most dynamic and positively evolving countries in Southeast Asia.
Our mission is to talk to entrepreneurs and investors to help understand what it takes to have bold ideas and build the business disruptors of tomorrow, in the most challenging, but highest potential markets of the region.
Through our personal exploration of these landscapes, we dive deep in our interviews with inspirational individuals learning about their career journeys, ideas, and insights into the markets of developing startup ecosystems, and expanding on why they see their business and the region as a "Rising Giant”.