[Updated] 500 Startups gets Malaysian actor Ashraf Sinclair as new Venture Partner

Anisa Menur
500 Startups Ashraf Sinclair

Prior to joining 500 Startups, Ashraf Sinclair has invested in Indonesian startups such as Konsaato

500 Startups Venture Partner Ashraf Sinclair (second from right) at Rework coworking space launch

British-Malaysian actor Ashraf Sinclair, who has been working and residing in Indonesia, today made his first public appearance as Venture Partner at 500 Startups.

Sinclair spoke at a panel discussion at the grand launching of Rework’s new coworking space in South Jakarta.

“I have known Khailee [Ng, 500 Startups Managing Partner] since long ago, and he had helped introduced me to several startups. He said, ‘This is good for you’, and I think it does make sense to invest, not only funding, but also influence and marketing [capabilities]. There’s an added value in that,” he explained how he first joined the venture capital firm.

“He then asked me to join 500 Startups, as he said ‘We can really use your influence in the community, industry, and also to introduce the concept of this new work to every level [of the society].’ So it’s all about collaboration and the message we can send out,” he added.

He stated that he has begun working with the venture capital firm since early 2017.

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At the event, Sinclair spoke about the importance of collaboration in the digital era and how he manages work-life balance as an actor and an investor.

Other speakers at the panel discussion were Ismaya Group Founder Christian Rijanto, Octovate Group CEO Ben Soebiakto, and Endeavor Managing Director Sati Rasuanto.

Sinclair has been starring in several films and hosting TV programmes in both Malaysia and Indonesia; his showbiz career began in 2004. The actor relocated to Indonesia after his marriage with Indonesian singer Bunga Citra Lestari in 2008.

The appointment was not Sinclair’s first foray into startup investment. In May 2016, together with his wife Bunga Citra Lestari, he took part in a pre-seed investment in concert crowdfunding platform Konsaato. The round was led by Jakarta-based Grupara Inc.

Sinclair had also invested in restaurant chain TGIF Indonesia, and has started restaurants, gyms, content, and production agencies. He had also produced a sold-out solo concert for his wife, which is said to attended by 35,000 people.

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In a press statement, 500 Startups said that Sinclair’s appointment is the first of new 2017 hires to be announced by Managing Partner Khailee Ng, who had also been relocating to Indonesia for almost a year.

Sinclair will be working together with Ng and Partner Vishal Harnal to deploy capital from the US$50 million 500 Durians Fund II into Indonesian startups.

Through the appointment, Ng expects to see more “new, game-changing startups” to come from outside the tech startup “echo chamber.”

“I want the startup world to leverage the world of mass media and trends, something the local entertainment industry understands well. Ashraf can be this bridge,” he said.

“The startup industry in Indonesia is booming. But it is still relatively new compared to the entertainment industry in the region. Many entrepreneurs building real businesses across the country may not have heard of venture capital, but they would’ve heard of Ashraf!” he added.

Ng had introduced Sinclair to his first angel investment, Korean cosmetics company Althea.

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