Challenging market for Southeast Asia’s new start-ups but VC firm remains ‘optimistic’


Venture capital firm Sequoia is still “quite optimistic” about long-term prospects for start-ups, despite the recent market volatility.

“This is a particularly challenging market for founders to get started,” Abheek Anand, managing director of Sequoia Southeast Asia, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday.

When asked about the firm’s outlook for Southeast Asia’s start-ups, Anand said its early-stage investments this and next year are “going to be playing [in] where the markets will be 10 years from now.”

“Pretty much every metric on technology continues to grow and secularly grow in the long term.”

On Tuesday, Sequoia announced it raised $2.85 billion across a set of funds focused on India and Southeast Asia. That includes its first dedicated fund for Southeast Asia, with a pool of $850 million.

“This fundraise, which comes at a time when markets are starting to cool after a very long bull run, signals our deep commitment to the region,” the firm said.

Emerging trends in Southeast Asia

“Their [executives] are now starting new companies and these are seasoned operators … They’re frankly, aiming higher than the companies that they came from,” Anand explained.

However, what will change for new start-ups and founders would be their “access to capital” and hence, short-term strategy.

“This period of free capital or very cheap capital that resulted in certain design choices that the big companies got built on, that’s going to likely not be present in the next year,” he said.

“Founders just have to be more sensible, more focused on fundamentals, more focused on durable and enduring business models.”

Focus on ‘strong corporate governance’

Anand said that Sequoia’s focus as long-term investors is building “strong corporate governance.”

“I would characterize our market as sort of through little bit of its teenage years … lots of companies are getting created and we’re all working together to get to a place where the market is more mature,” he added.

This includes building “enduring business models” together with the founder and others in the ecosystem.

“I think what we’re seeing is some of the teething challenges in the market, which is understandable given the rate at which everything is going.”

Correction: This story was updated to correct the spelling of Abheek Anand’s name in one instance.


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