Rising Giants Newsletter - N.21 Robbert Groenen, Myanmar Director, One to Watch

Max & Dom chatting with the boldest and most inspiring entrepreneurs and investors in Cambodia 🇰🇭. Turn on 💡, tune in 📻, keep up 🚀

Welcome to the Rising Giant's Podcast Newsletter by Max Thornton and Dominic Kalousek.

If you enjoy our content, please subscribe to our post-interview newsletter as we share our most recent podcast episode, Southeast Asia startup and venture capital news, venture deals, entrepreneur resources, and job opportunities in the region!

We are always looking for suggestions on how to improve our newsletter to provide the most relevant and valuable content. If you have suggestions on what you would like to see, please leave a comment below!

▶️ This Weeks Episode Recap

In this week’s episode, we talk with Robbert Gronen, Myanmar Director at One to Watch, where we dive deep into Myanmar, giving our audience an update on the investment situation in the country. Robbert has been on the ground in the country, running incubation and investments for One to Watch since 2017, witnessing firsthand the rapid development and investor interest the country experienced in recent years. Prior to Myanmar, Robbert has worked in Nepal and Mexico, and is a keen frontier market enthusiast with a strong passion for impact investment. 

We get into:

  • 🧐 How entrepreneurs have responded to the crisis in the country in 2021; sectors that remain well insulated and investable.

  • 📝 Outlook on how the investor landscape will change over the coming years; commercial vs. impact.

  • 🛠️ Frameworks for understanding frontier market development; 'Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty'.

🧠 Want to learn more about Mekong Strategic Partners?


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📝 Venture Capital Deal Flow Highlights in Southeast Asia

Kredivo announced today it has secured another $100 million debt facility from Victory Park Capital (VPC). This doubles the Indonesian digital lending and credit platform’s total warehouse financing facility from VPC to $200 million. This is the largest loan facility it has raised so far, and is VPC’s biggest debt commitment to a fintech company outside of the United States and Europe, as well as its only investment in Southeast Asia. Kredivo will use the debt facility to help achieve its goal of serving 10 million customers in Indonesia.

MFast, a mobile app that lets Vietnamese users in remote areas access financial services, announced today it has raised a $1.5 million pre-Series A. Launched in 2019 by fintech company DigiPay, it has been used by 600,000 people to date. The company prequalifies applicants for credit services using predictive machine learning algorithms to identify applicants with high risks of defaulting on their loans, while its insurance customers are matched with plans using a data-driven engine. The funding will be used to expand MFast to more cities and provinces in Vietnam, develop its technology and partner with more institution

Hugo has secured funding of $2 million from 1982 Ventures, a prominent global and Singaporean family offices and angels. Founded in 2019, Hugo helps users develop healthy saving and investing habits that make financial security accessible to everyone in an easy and intuitive way. Hugo will use the funds to continue to enhance its offering with new customer-driven products and services. Hugo is also exploring market expansion in several Southeast Asian geographies and outside the region with local partners.

Oyen, a digital-first pet healthcare insurance provider based in Malaysia, has raised $420,000 in a seed round participated by backers such as Hustle Fund, alongside angel investors. The company will use the funds to enhance its proprietary digital insurance platform and reinforce its market position within Malaysia’s pet healthcare insurance ecosystem. It is aggressively expanding its recruitment in various roles in technology (such as software engineering) and non-technology (such as growth marketing). These efforts will serve as the firm’s springboard to become Southeast Asia’s leading pet healthcare insurer and move towards offering more holistic pet healthcare services to pet owners such as vet medical protection, preventative care, and wellness, among other benefits.


📰 Frontier Market Start-Up and Venture Capital News in Southeast Asia

🇰🇭 Cambodian startups get local help to turn ideas into business ventures.

🇹🇭 Ascent of the unicorns - read how Thailand’s first unicorn Flash group came to fame.

🇮🇩 Read about this Indonesian startup unlocks local e-commerce boom for logistics sector with new transport management solution

🇻🇳 Singaporean VC firm Antler expands into Vietnam.

🇧🇩 How iKitchen is raising the standards in the restaurant industry of Bangladesh.

🇳🇵 Taximandu: Kathmandu’s taxi-booking startup targets other developing countries.

🇵🇭 A startup deploys black soldier flies in the Philippines’ war on waste.


📚 Knowledge Base: Entrepreneur and Investor Learning Resources

This week’s video series is with Hugh Darwell - Regional Director, Business Development | Acclime Cambodia who discusses investing in Cambodia. This webinar has been designed to guide the companies considering investing in Cambodia by providing the following insights and up-to-date opportunities and challenges. We hope you enjoy!

Additional Resources To Check Out:

🔍 Scaling a product community to 100,000 members.

🎥 Building a career beyond your job.

🔨 Blueprint on how to become a better leader.

🔥 Crypto TalkDiving into FinTech 3.0 Re-Architecting Financial Market Infrastructure & DeFi.


👨🏼‍💻 Frontier Market Job Opportunities


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🧐 What is Rising Giants?

The Rising Giants Podcast was created in November 2020 by Max Thornton and Dominic Kalousek after realizing that there were a limited number of resources available for insight into the local startup and investor ecosystem in Southeast Asia.  

Our mission is to talk to entrepreneurs and investors in the world’s most rapidly evolving frontier markets to help understand what it takes to have bold ideas and build the business disruptors of tomorrow. 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”.