Rising Giants Newsletter - N.27 Keertan Menon, Frontier Market Private Equity Investor

Max & Dom chatting with the boldest and most inspiring entrepreneurs and investors in Cambodia 🇰🇭 and Southeast Asia 🌏. 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!

▶️ This Weeks Episode Recap

On today’s show we have the pleasure of speaking with Keertan Menon, a frontier market private equity investor working for one of the leading players globally that operate in the key frontier markets of Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central Asia.

Prior to getting involved in frontier market investing, Keertan worked for one of the leading software venture capitalists in Europe. Some of the key frontier markets he has interfaced with include Ethiopia, Rwanda, Georgia, Mongolia, and Vietnam.

We get into:

🏎 The fundamentals driving frontier markets today; sustainable demographics, growing consumption, infrastructure spending, free trade blocs.

🏗 Sectors with the highest potential for consistent returns; consumer, logistics, and new economy infrastructure.

🤝 The fuzzy vs. the techie; why having proper soft skills make you stand out in the 21st-century investment industry.

🧠 Want to learn more about Frontier Market Investing?


📝 Venture Capital Deal Flow Highlights in Southeast Asia

Indonesia delivery company RaRa Delivery announced it has raised $3.25 million in seed funding led by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge program and East Ventures. Launched in 2019, RaRa Delivery relies on a proprietary engine that batches orders and optimizes delivery routes based on data like real-time traffic information. The startup’s plans for its seed funding include expanding its product ecosystem, which currently includes the batching engine, a seller portal, real-time order tracking, a chatbot for customers and the COD reconciliation.

Philippine cryptocurrency exchange platform Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) has raised $12.5 million in funding from an undisclosed UK-based Venture Capital firm. PDAX launched its cryptocurrency exchange back in 2018 to provide Filipinos with an accessible platform where they can trade the world’s leading digital assets like Bitcoin safely, directly with PHP, and at globally competitive rates.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the company has seen 25x growth in its user count and an 80x rise in its monthly volumes, proof of the country’s rising cryptocurrency adoption. In the latter part of 2020, the Philippines’ homegrown tech startup also launched the PDAX mobile app to allow users to more conveniently trade cryptocurrency.

Indonesian-based Lifepal, the country’s largest direct-to-consumer insurance marketplace, announced it has raised a $9 million Series A led by ProBatus Capital. Lifepal was founded in 2019 by former Lazada executives Giacomo Ficari and Nicolo Robba. The marketplace’s partners currently offer about 300 policies for life, health, automotive, property and travel coverage.

Part of Lifepal’s funding will be used to build products to make it easier to claim policies. Upcoming products include Insurance Wallet, which will include an application process with support on how to claim a policy—for example, what car repair shop or hospital a customer should go to—and escalation if a claim is rejected. Another product, called Easy Claim, will automate the claim process.

Philippine-based Yield Guild Games (YGG), a decentralized gaming guild of players and investors who generate yield from NFT-based games, announced it has raised $4.6 million investment led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). The funding will be used to continue YGG’s investment in digital assets in games and virtual worlds across the play-to-earn ecosystem, while expanding its global community of over 48,000 gamers, with more than half of the members residing in the Philippines.


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

🇰🇭  H&M announces first Cambodian store as rising incomes attract more international brands.

🇮🇩 Indonesia based Crystal Pro aims to become the first crypto-based platform in Indonesia streamlining business operations.

🇻🇳 Learn more on how Vietnam leads globally in cryptocurrency adoption.

🇧🇩 Political instabilities in host countries and persisting pandemic limit the gains expected from overseas investment of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, prompting some to pull out

🇳🇵Nepal's startup Yatri Motorcycles is on a mission to push the Himalayan nation's automotive scene towards electrification.

🇵🇭 Philippine e-commerce seen growing faster than forecast.

🌏 Forbes Asia 100 To Watch - 100 innovative companies to be on the lookout for over the next year.


📚 Knowledge Base: Entrepreneur and Investor Learning Resources

In continuation from last week’s highlighted resource, we want to share with you a great podcast initiative (in Khmer) started by the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia that dives into different aspects of entrepreneurship and contribute to productive employment and sustainable development of Cambodia's future economy.

For background, YEAC was launched in September 2009 by a team of passionate Cambodian young entrepreneurs from various business sectors. It was established as a volunteer-driven non-profit organization with the ambition to empower young entrepreneurs and enhance youth entrepreneurship. Click the picture above for the link to their podcast homepage on Google Play!

🧠 Additional Resources To Check Out:

💯 4 lessons from Steve Jobs that are still relevant, 10 years after his passing.

🔎 How to get your communities first 1000 members. 

💡 A framework to make you think more creatively.

🔥 How timeless is timeless advice?


👨🏼‍💻 Frontier Market Job Opportunities


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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 

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”.