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Tried & Tested: Hard Work Pays Off

Vinay Ramkumar of KAIROS ASEAN shares with us his experience on working hard to create the right opportunity at the right time

Vinay Ramkumar is currently a student in Singapore, working on interesting projects with startups and VC’s across Southeast Asia and India. We managed to sneak in a quick coffee with him to learn more about his work with not one, but three different venture capital firms in Singapore. The self-professed ‘coffee addict’ was happy to share his insight into the ever evolving start-up ecosystem in Southeast Asia.

Having grown up in Kerala (India), spending 4 years in Vietnam, and finishing high-school in Bangalore (India), Vinay has spent most of his life studying, travelling and working around Asia.

After high school, Vinay was able to secure his first start-up internship which eventually had to close shop due to lack of product market fit. As the sole intern who worked with the founder on the product, it was an eye opener into the harsh realities of building a business in a tough environment. Soon after, a combination of hustle and luck landed Vinay his job at Bookpad, another technology startup based in Bangalore. As the 4th employee of the company, he played a small part in helping the startup go from pre-product to acquisition in less than 2 years - Bookpad was the first company in India to get acquired by Yahoo!. This experience not only served as a great learning experience for him, but also triggered his interest in technology, start-ups and venture capital.

When we asked Vinay to tell us about some of the people that have inspired him along the way, Darius Cheung, CEO of 99.co was mentioned. “99.co has one of the best work cultures that I have ever seen in any startup or company- the synergy of the team and the drive inculcated in everyone was amazing”. Right after starting university in Singapore, Vinay approached 99.co and Darius welcomed him to work with the team as one of its early interns. His respect for Darius was evident as he recounts the little yet significant ways the CEO made time to make sure employees were learning and growing. While at 99.co, Vinay helped streamline process work flow for its mobile app while also helping with business development. The company was later funded by Golden Gate Ventures, 500 startups and Sequoia Capital.

Vinay also mentioned William Klippgen, Managing Partner at Tigris Capital, one of the first early stage Venture Capital firms to start investing in innovative, digital ventures out of Southeast Asia. Without any prior Venture Capital experience, Vinay took matters in his own hands and cold-emailed VC firms across the region, hoping to secure an internship with one of them. William took a chance on Vinay and gave him the opportunity to gain some real world VC experience though his work on analysing deals, supporting portfolio companies, attending conferences, establishing relationships with entrepreneurs and investors and even observing board meetings. This subsequently led him to working as an analyst for SEGNEL Ventures and then Golden Gate ventures, one of the most prominent venture firms in the region.

His experience working with startups and VC firms, especially with his current role at Golden Gate Ventures has taught him much about the depth and spread of the ecosystem in Southeast Asia. He’s passionate about deep tech, data and analytics companies and hopes to see these areas grow and evolve in the region and beyond.

In the long run, Vinay hopes to one day either run his own venture firm, start his own business or perhaps work for a startup solving important problems, making lives better and easier in some way.

If you’re curious on what it’s like interning at a VC firm, do check out the article he wrote on Tech Crunch!

- Nicole

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