Who is he?
Jeffrey Paine is a Co-founder and Managing Partner of Golden Gate Ventures, an early-stage technology venture capital fund based in Singapore investing in Southeast Asia with over US$175 million under management investing in over 35 companies since 2012.
Jeff started and manages the Founder Institute in Singapore where he is currently overseeing its expansion in Southeast Asia, and Japan. Since 2010 the Founder Institute in Singapore has graduated over 100 companies. He is a recipient of the Founder Institute Director Award 2012 for “Greatest Ecosystem Impact” Worldwide (Singapore).
He is a Singapore native and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Information Systems) from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
What were the main challenges of starting up in Singapore?
Singapore isn’t cheap. You have to launch fast, listen to users, pivot a couple of times, and keep developing a better product all on Singapore’s cost of living. This means a Malaysian or Vietnamese start-up can kick your ass. If you spend too much money, you will probably die, because you will have to raise even more money. Each time you raise money, you need to justify a higher valuation, if not your equity will be gone. To justify this higher valuation, you need to be in bigger markets such as Indonesia, but if you’re not ready, you cannot raise. By the time you are ready, Indonesia has five clones raising less money than what you need, and have a local advantage. When this happens, you’ll be spinning around waiting for a slow death. Singapore may not be the best first market. In fact, it’s usually not the best.
It’s been four years since Golden Gate Ventures started. How has the Singapore ecosystem evolved?
It’s getting there. Now, we have people from all over the world based here, so it’s becoming very diverse. About 50% of founders here are not locals. In the past, that was about 30%. Singapore has also become a financing hub with a lot more capital. Some entrepreneurs have exited, become angel investors, and are now helping younger founders and start-ups. The number of tech-talents has also increased. They are getting better, and are starting to tackle more difficult problems. Investors are getting savvier, and start-up employees are learning to ask the right questions. The ecosystem is slowly moving forward together.