THE SEARCH FOR A HERO

How in­vestors pin down the in­cal­cu­la­ble essence of lead­er­ship.

The Peak (Singapore) - - The Peak -

“What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween a great idea and a great founder? Which is bet­ter?” With these words, Ar­rif Zi­audeen, founder and CEO of Chope, starts the ball rolling and gets the dis­cus­sion off to a rous­ing start.

Zi­audeen is mod­er­at­ing the sec­ond in­stal­ment of Great Minds At The Great Room, a se­ries of talks jointly pre­sented by The Peak and co-work­ing space The Great Room. Ti­tled “In­vest­ing in For­mi­da­ble Founders”, this ses­sion brings to­gether Ozi Amanat, found­ing part­ner of K2 Global, and Hian Goh, found­ing part­ner of Openspace Ven­tures and founder of the Asian Food Chan­nel, to share their in­sights into how ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists suss out the in­vest­ment po­ten­tial of a com­pany, based solely on the founders.

“We bet on peo­ple,” says Amanat sim­ply. “That’s our first phi­los­o­phy. I’ve seen a lot of bad ideas be­come great com­pa­nies be­cause they had a great founder.”

Amanat and Goh talk about the qual­i­ties a great founder should pos­sess. “It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause you have to quan­tify some­thing that is not quan­tifi­able,” ad­mits Amanat,

whose com­pany – a bridge be­tween a ven­ture cap­i­tal and pri­vate eq­uity firm – has in­vested in some of the big­gest names like Spo­tify, Airbnb, Uber and Alibaba. “Does the founder have an X fac­tor? Do they see the world dif­fer­ently? Do they have scars? Can they pivot a com­pany that needs piv­ot­ing? It’s a flip of the coin, re­ally. But, with some peo­ple, you can ac­tu­ally see the life force within them, that can take over the room.”

Goh looks for emo­tional au­then­tic­ity. That was the rea­son why his com­pany, Openspace Ven­tures, which fo­cuses on Se­ries A and B fund­ing, de­cided to in­vest in Love, Bonito, the Sin­ga­pore fash­ion la­bel started by Rachel Lim and Vi­o­let Tan. Spend­ing time with Lim con­vinced Goh he was right to go with her. “She has this killer in­stinct,” he says, re­lat­ing her un­canny abil­ity to ex­tract use­ful in­for­ma­tion for the busi­ness from any­one she meets.

“Ven­ture cap­i­tal­ism is a bru­tal busi­ness. It’s not phi­lan­thropy, it’s not a so­cial en­ter­prise. We are out there with swords and knives and fists and we are fight­ing. Peo­ple don’t see that.” OZI AMANAT

03 Ali­cia Thian & Brian Bonde 03

02 Ken­neth Goi 02

01 So­nia Ong & Jac­que­line Chee 01

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