Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Kartini Andri Wardhani from Venturra, a Southeast Asia-focused venture capital firm investing in early-stage, high-growth businesses in sectors such as e-commerce, financial technology, marketplaces, healthcare, and education. Kartini talked about empowering entrepreneurs, investing in blockchain in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, challenges in the industry, and the company’s next steps.
Asia Blockchain Review: What are Venturra’s mission and long-term goals?
Kartini Andri Wardhani: Our mission is to empower outstanding entrepreneurs. Our team spends their time sourcing not only deals but founders that have great potential. We are always on the lookout for smart, relentless, and personable individuals that have the ambition and grit to develop the next big thing. We want them to have the patience to work out a problem and the flexibility to pivot if need be. When we see people like that, our goal is to help them and their companies grow into (hopefully) a billion-dollar star.
ABR: As a venture capital firm, how do you empower startups to grow and to innovate?
KAW: We don’t only empower them through funding (although that helps), but we offer guidance and networking through our experiences and our star partners. From our track record and our partners’ track records, you don’t only see big names — you see the development of big names. For example, one of our managing partner, Rudy Ramawy, was the founding CEO of Google Indonesia. He doesn’t just have the experience of working there; he built that foundation with his team.
In Southeast Asia, what you often see is that businesses don’t only grow due to pure talent. Businesses grow with the aid of a vast network. John Riady, also a managing partner, has reach ranging from property to healthcare to education. The network that our portfolios can tap into is immense.
ABR: What is the most important factor to consider when investing in blockchain companies?
KAW: We believe the practical use case is the most important factor. We see blockchain as a means to an end: it is not its own thing, but if integrated into another thing, it can provide a great solution. For example, using a blockchain network for identifying and safekeeping medical records can help solve a multitude of real-world problems.
The issue is that the infrastructure in most Southeast Asian countries, whether digital or otherwise, is not mature enough to be provided with such solutions. A product doesn’t stand on its own but must work with its surroundings. No matter how good a product is, if the surroundings cannot use it, then it loses its purpose.
ABR: What are some of the challenges that Venturra has encountered in this industry?
KAW: The main challenge, as previously mentioned, is the infrastructure. For example, if blockchain were to be applied in the medical field, is everyone else in that vertical ready? Other than that, are the regulations in place to allow for such a thing to be applied?
EMRs (electronic medical records) worked in the US because laws require open APIs (application programming interfaces) for hospitals so that the data can be tapped into by platforms that allow patients to access their EMR at any time from anywhere. Do we see the same patterns in Southeast Asia? Not yet.
ABR: How is the blockchain landscape in Indonesia? What about other countries in Southeast Asia?
KAW: We see color in the blockchain community here in Indonesia. We haven’t seen tremendous things, but the potential is there, especially in Jakarta and Jogjakarta. Vietnam, with their tremendous tech talents, is impressive. We definitely find more promising movements in Hanoi than elsewhere.
ABR: What advice do you have for startups looking for funding in this competitive market situation?
ABR: What are your plans for 2019-2020? What are your key performance indicators?
KAW: Our market focuses for this year (and most probably, the next couple of years) are Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. We aim to review at least 500 pitch decks and schedule 100 startup meetings per quarter. Fortunately, we almost always exceed this goal.
ABR: How is Venturra transforming the blockchain landscape in Southeast Asia?
KAW: In empowering outstanding entrepreneurs, we aim to bring blockchain to the mass market by shifting the focus from technicalities to product-market fit. A good CTO that can handle complex functions needs to be partnered with a great businessperson that can sell.
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