10 prominent VC-turned entrepreneurs in Asia

Sainul Abudheen

The entrepreneur bug bites and lures venture capital investors to get right into the action once again

For someone who has successfully sailed through the choppy waters of entrepreneurship at least once in life, no job on this earth — not even a cushy job at Google — can be gratifying. Such people are always on the lookout for new opportunities to unleash their problem-solving potential. This ability makes this breed of people itching to build new companies and in the process, making some money through exits. But once they hang their entrepreneur boots, most of them take refuge in the venture capital world.

There are some other kinds of people who walk back the tight rope of entrepreneurship. Here we bring out you a list of prominent VCs in Asia, who have donned the entrepreneurship hat once again in their lives.

Mohan Lakhamraju (India)

Venture: Great Learning

Venture Capital: Tiger Global

Lakhamraju is Co-founder and CEO of Great Learning, a digital learning platform designed to empower working professionals to develop competencies to accelerate their career progression.

An MBA from Stanford University and MS in Computer Science from University of California (Berkley), Lakhamraju started his career as Managing Director at Tiger Global Management. He managed public market and private equity investments in India for the NY-based VC firm. He set up and managed Tiger Global’s India office in Mumbai. One of his areas of focus was the education sector, both in India as well as Southeast Asian markets.

Lakhamraju has also spent close to 10 years in Silicon Valley, first as an entrepreneur helping build a SaaS company called Stratify (now a division of HP) and then as a Venture Capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ).

Anshoo Sharma (India)

Venture: magicpin

Venture Capital: Lightspeed

Sharma is Co-founder and CEO of magicpin, a social network for local experiences that acts as extended senses for consumers to experience the best out of a locale. It is also new-age guide that lets consumers find the best places around an area for food, fashion and beauty.

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With 14 years of professional experience in investing, consulting and tech roles across India and the US, Sharma was the second person in Lightspeed’s India team where he spent around six years and led/was actively involved with nine investments. Prior to Lightspeed, he worked at Bain & Co. across its Boston and India offices.

In early stages of his career, he was associated with Motorola and Hughes for three years in product and engineering roles. Sharma completed his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and BS in computer science from Delhi University.

Brij Bhushan (India)

Venture: magicpin

Vanture Capital: Nexus Venture Partners

Bhushan is Co-founder and CTO of magicpin.

He has spent a large part of his professional life closely involved in the startup ecosystem with Nexus Venture Partners as an investor and leadership role at early-stage startup before that.

Bhushan worked for four years at Bain & Co’s India and US units, after graduating from IIM Bangalore, and had been in tech roles before that. He is passionate about solving problems, building things from scratch and developing people.

In the past, he has also worked as Vice President (Category) at UrbanTouch.com.

Asish Mohapatra (India)

Venture: OfBusiness

Venture Capital: Matrix Partners

Mohapatra is Co-founder and CEO of OfBusiness, an SME financing and product fulfilment platform. He spearheads the overall operations of the company and comprehensively works towards building a stronger organisational structure.

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Counting IIT Kharagpur and ISB Hyderabad as his alma maters, Mohapatra joined ITC as an Operations Manager (Supply Chain and Manufacturing) in 2002. In 2006, he went on to become Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company with healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical products in his portfolio. He was also a part of Matrix Partners as a venture capitalist from 2010 to 2015. Moving forward, Mohapatra embarked on his entrepreneurial stint with the inception of OfBusiness in 2015 and launched it in 2016.

Hiroyuki Kiga (Singapore)

Venture: Wallex

Venture Capital: GREE Ventures

Hiroyuki Kiga is Co-founder and COO at Wallex, a payment specialist for cross-border transactions which also provides users with the ability to convert and hold balances in multiple currencies.

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A Master’s in Applied Finance, Fund Management and Corporate Finance degree holder from Macquarie University (Sydney), Kiga started his career in 2011 as a Business Analyst at Macquarie Bank. A year later, he moved to GREE Ventures as Strategic Investment and Finance for Tokyo. After three months, he took on the role of a venture capitalist at GREE for Jakarta and Singapore.

In 2014, he quit GREE to join Yello Mobile as Vice President (Investment).

Alok Mittal (India)

Venture: Indifi Tech

Venture Capital: Canaan Partners

Mittal is Co-founder and CEO of Indifi, an online platform to expand access to debt financing for Indian SMEs.

Mittal is a first-generation entrepreneur based in India. He is also a founding member of Indian Angel Network, which is a forum for making angel investments.

He last led India operations of Canaan Partners, a US-based VC firm. Earlier, he co-founded JobsAhead.co, an e-recruitment business focussed on the Indian market, and it was later acquired by Monster.com.

Before founding JobsAhead, Mittal worked with Hughes software in telecom and internet technologies. He is a Computer Science graduate from IIT Delhi, and completed his MS and Management of Technology programs from UC Berkeley.

Sonal Minas (India)

Venture: Twigly

Venture Capital: SAIF Partners

Minas is Co-founder and CEO of Twigly, an online kitchen that delivers lunches and dinners within a 45-minute timeframe. Based out of NCR, Twigly aims to set up a modern, fresh food supply chain, and provide customers with meals made using high quality, locally-sourced produce.

An MBA from Indian School of Business and a BTech from IIT Kanpur, Minas started his career as Manager at Evalueserve.com in 2003. Three years later, he moved to E&Y as Senior Associate.

In October 2008, he left E&Y to join AIF Capital as Investment Professional. After a three-year stint at AIF, he joined SAIF Partners where we worked as Vice President. He quit SAIF in 2015 to start Twigly.

Ron Hose (Philippines)

Venture: Coin.ph

Venture Capital: Innovation Endeavours

Hose is Founder and CEO of Coins, a mobile blockchain-enabled platform that enables anyone, including those without bank accounts, to easily access financial services directly from their phone. Using Coins, customers have access to a mobile wallet and services such as remittances, air-time, bill payments, and online shopping at over 100,000 merchants who accept digital currency.

Prior to coins.ph, Ron was a Founding Partner at Innovation Endeavors, an early-stage venture capital fund backed by Eric Schmidt. He was also Co-founder of TokBox (acquired by Telefonica), a consumer video conferencing company.

Hose holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from Cornell University.

Vinod Dham (India)

Venture: AcadGild

Venture Capital: Kalaari Capital

Dham is Founder and CEO of AcadGild, an edtech startup aiming to create an ecosystem for skill development, where people can learn from mentors and from each other.

With 40-plus years of experience in developing semiconductor products and technologies, Dham is a Founding Managing Director of IndoUS Venture Partners (now Kalaari Capital), an early stage venture capital fund focused on investing in India. Prior to this, he co-founded a cross border incubator, NewPath Ventures.

Before that, he was CEO of Silicon Spice, a chip design startup he sold to Broadcom for US$1.2 billion. Earlier, Dham was COO at NexGen, a microprocessor design startup, which was acquired by AMD for US$800 million.

Prior to his startup stints, Dham was Intel’s Vice President of Pentium Processor Division and earlier General Manager of i486 Workgroup Computing Division.

Vivek Mehra (India)

Venture: Burgundy Box

Venture Capital: Aloe Private Equity

Mehra is Founder Director of food service startup Burgundy Box. From DIY meal kits to delicious ready to eat meals, it provides fresh and healthy meals.

Mehra has been a seed and angel investor focusing on IT infrastructure, data centre technologies, systems management, security, storage, cloud computing systems and software. Prior to founding Burgundy Box (earlier Culinary Cart), he was Managing Director at Aloe Private Equity.

In the past, he has worked at Yes Bank where he was the MD (Private Equity and Investment Banking). Before the stint at YES Bank, he has assumed different roles at VA Tech Finance, Standard Chartered Bank and JM Financial.


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