Rising Giants Newsletter - N.23 David Totten, Managing Director at Emerging Market Consulting (EMC)

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!

In case you missed it last week, we celebrated our Half Year review of Rising Giants by providing a progress update on how much the channel has grown over the past half year. In case you missed it, check it out!

▶️ This Weeks Episode Recap

This week, we welcome David Totten on the podcast from Emerging Market Consulting (EMC). David has built EMC into a leading regional consulting firm that uses international best practice methodologies and hard-won local knowledge to help clients answer their most difficult strategic questions when operating in the frontier markets of Cambodia and Laos. David is originally from the UK, with an extensive background that includes working in post-communist Russia, Germany, and Greece, operating mostly in the telecoms and software space before arriving in Cambodia in 2008 and joining EMC in 2011. 

We get into:

  • 🧐 Witnessing the first wave of investment in Cambodia; launching the first commercial incubation program in the country in 2011-2013.

  • 📝 Market differences between Cambodia and Laos; how Laos is still a decade behind Cambodia in terms of free-market economics.

  • 🛠️ Strategies for dealing with adversity and doubt in business; 'cope with it, if you're not encountering it, you aren't trying hard enough'.

🧠 Want to learn more about Emerging Market Consulting?

  • Check out EMC’s most recent write up on how the COVID-19 pandemic could have pushed up to half of Lao migrant workers in Thailand out of work.


🎧 Find us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play, and Anchor!


📝 Venture Capital Deal Flow Highlights in Southeast Asia

Tinvio, a Singapore-based startup, announced it has raised a $12 million Series A to build out its B2B transactions platform. The round was led by AppWorks Ventures, with participation from strategic investor MUFG Innovation Partners (MUIP), a venture capital firm for collaborations between startups and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. Since its seed funding, Tinvio says its client base has increased four times, to more than 5,000 businesses in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and other Asian markets.

Iron Capital Plc, a Cambodia-based investment holding company, has secured a $5.7 Million Series A round to build the country’s first digitized automotive ecosystem. Iron Capital, an investor in digital media companies and garage franchises, plans to develop its own custom garage technology system and mobile app to give customers easy access to their products and services. The fund will be used to accelerate the development of mobile apps and their garage technology systems, with a mobile app version 1.0 to be released in the third quarter of this year.

Easy Eat AI, a Singapore-based startup that wants to “transform restaurants into technology companies,” announced it has raised $5 Million in funding. Easy Eat AI offers an operating system for restaurants that lets them digitize all parts of their business, from inventory and customer orders to delivery, and gain AI-based data analytics to improve revenue.

Notable Deals:


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

🇰🇭 In Cambodia, the world’s largest secure logistics firm enters Cambodian market.

🇹🇭 Venture arm of Thailand’s oldest bank says DeFi will disrupt traditional finance.

🇮🇩 E-commerce giant Bukalapak to become Indonesia’s first listed tech startup unicorn.

🇻🇳 How Vietnam expected to be 'rising star' in South-East Asia's startup ecosystem.

🇧🇩 Bangladesh's leading digital healthcare startup Maya launches in Pakistan.

🇳🇵 Amid the pandemic, Nepal takes key step toward debt transparency.

🇵🇭 Philippine-based Gentree Fund said it has set aside an initial $40 Million to look for investments into early-​stage companies across Southeast Asia.


📚 Knowledge Base: Entrepreneur and Investor Learning Resources

This week’s video series, we share a video by TDW Southeast Asia Tech News that reviews the current unicorns of Southeast Asia. This video is great as it talks about what these startups are currently up to, how much they have raised, and where they are located. We hope you enjoy!

Additional Resources To Check Out:

🔍 How to build buzz around your product.

🎥 Lessons from investing in over 100 companies.

🔨 Examples of decks used by VCs to pitch to LPs.

🔥  Traits of great early-stage hires.


👨🏼‍💻 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 Dom 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”.