Rising Giants Newsletter - September Recap

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!

▶️ Rising Giants Recap

If you missed our recent guests who were on the podcast, click their Spotify box below to tune into their episode. Each of these episodes provide really great insight across the buy-now-pay-later, e-commerce, and entertainment space within Cambodia so we hope that you tune in and enjoy!

N.28 Pablo Alonso Caprile, Group CFO, iCare Benefits

Pablo is the Group CFO at iCare Benefits, the leading buy-now-pay-later firm in Cambodia and Laos, having served over 300,000 customers. iCare looks to play a critical role in addressing financial inclusion by offering low-income women factory workers an interest-free option to purchase consumer goods and improve their lives, without the need for taking on shark loans or additional debt. iCare has also recently launched its new subsidiary iCare Leasing, to continue expanding its services offering to its customers. 

N.29 Jack Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Smile Shop

Jack Lee is CEO of Smile Shop, a prominent business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce platform leaving a remarkable imprint on the Cambodian retail and cross-border trading industries. Jack has worked across Southeast Asia for over a decade, meticulously studying and perfecting how to do business in these evolving markets whilst adapting to the local culture and customs.

N.30 Sarita Reth, Miss Universe Cambodia 2020, Actor, Film Producer, TV Host

Sarita Reth is currently Miss Universe Cambodia 2020, representing her country as Miss Universe for the fourth time Cambodia has successfully entered a contestant. Prior to this Sarita has had a distinguished career in the media & entertainment industry, having acted and/or produced in over ten films and TV shows. Furthermore, Sarita recently took on the role of Good Will Ambassador for the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the first to hold this accoladed position. 

📝 Venture Capital Deal Flow Highlights in Southeast Asia

Cambodian-based Smile Shop, the leading e-commerce company in the country, has entered into a strategic partnership with Venture Capital firm Jin Sha Group, designed to expand the platform's capabilities, improve service offerings, shore up domestic businesses and bring local products to the global horizon. The company plans to invest more heavily in fintech, supply chain infrastructure, logistics and Cambodian products to market to an international audience, as well as improving customer service to turn Smile Shop into the most customer-centric platform.

Jakarta-based Xendit, best known for its digital payment infrastructure but also focused on other financial products, announced it has raised $150 million in Series C funding, bumping its valuation to $1 billion. At the end of last year, Xendit expanded into the Philippines, and says it is now one of the biggest payment players in the country. Xendit decided to raise again to fuel expansion into other countries, CEO Wijaya told TechCrunch. “Our core focus at the moment for this new fundraise is to further regionalize and to expand our product suite in regions where we are at or will expand into.” The company also plans to launch value-added services.

Evermos is an Indonesian social commerce startup with two goals: to let people earn extra income by opening online stores without spending capital and to help small brands grow into household names. The company, which focuses on halal products and other items for Muslim customers, announced it has raised a $30 million Series B, led by UOB Venture Management’s Asia Impact Investment Fund II. The funding will be used on hiring, enhancing Evermos’ recommendation engine and other AI-based tech, and entering new regions in Indonesia.

CoderSchool, a Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam-based online coding school startup, announced today $2.6 million in pre-Series A funding to scale up its online coding school platform. This round was led by Monk’s Hill Ventures with the funding used to accelerate its online teaching platform growth and technology infrastructure expansion for the company’s technical education programs that guarantee employment upon graduation.

Indonesian insurtech Rey Assurance, a startup providing access to a platform of health services, including AI-based self-assessment tools, 24/7 telemedicine consultations for no added fee and pharmacy deliveries, raised $1 million through pre-seed funding. Plans start from about $4 USD per month and are available for individual or groups, like families and small businesses. Rey’s wellness ecosystem was created to give customers more value for their money and help differentiate it from other companies in Indonesia’s growing insurtech industry.

Vietnam-based Jeff App, a financial services app that wants to give consumers a “super app” where they can compare many financial products and apply for them using the startup’s proprietary data-scoring models, raised a seed extension of $1.5 million, led by J12 Ventures. The startup claims that since the end of January 2021, its users have tripled to 700,000, who compared a total of four million products over the past six months. Part of the funding will be used to increase Jeff’s team from about 15 people now to more than 40 employees for its offices in Latvia and Southeast Asia.


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

🇰🇭  Cambodian Association of Finance and Technology and AmCham Cambodia sign an MoU to support the Cambodian Fintech sector and start-ups in the industry.

🇮🇩 A case for why Indonesian start-ups should focus on building on their home soil.

🇻🇳 Foreign investment into Vietnamese start-ups expected to rise despite Covid-19.

🇧🇩  Read up on how AmarLab, a promising healthcare startup, is contributing to the Digital Healthcare industry in Bangladesh.

🇳🇵 Nepal's first locally made electric motorbike woos petrol purist.

🇵🇭 Manila joins Asia’s top 30 cities for startups.


📚 Knowledge Base: Entrepreneur and Investor Learning Resources

In this week’s resource, we want to share with you a great initiative called “Startup Stories” by Sabay in Cambodia. This initiative (presented in Khmer) is “a program that will showcase the many experiences of Cambodian businessmen” in the country. Having released multiple episodes to date, we look forward to seeing this channel grow and hearing the stories from their guests.

Additional Resources To Check Out:

💯 Mental models for how exceptional people think.

🔎 How to ask useful questions.  

💡 Tips and tricks to become a better writer.

🔥 How Venture Capital is evolving and the industries outlook over the next 10 years.


👨🏼‍💻 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”.