Rosalind Tan is helping start-ups build something really great from the ground up with venture firm, Wavemaker Partners.
What’s your story?
I studied philosophy and French literature at university and got interested in the fast-growing tech industry towards the end of my final year while my contemporaries were looking to more conventional finance routes. I did a stint at Tech in Asia and joined Wavemaker Partners shortly after. It’s been a great learning experience and I’ve blessed with incredible mentor-like figures on my journey.
What excites you most about your industry?
The fact that the Southeast Asian tech landscape is in many ways a blank canvas. There’s a lot of noise surrounding the promising macros of the region but no huge results just yet. I’d like to be a part of the journey to plant that flag and turn the regional ecosystem into something world class. That’s what excites me the most; the opportunity to build something really good from the ground up.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, grew up in the UK, France and Italy but my entire family’s always been here.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I would say Singapore. Spending a fair amount of time on the legal and operational side of some of the businesses we invest in, I’ve come to really appreciate the efficiency of Singaporeans.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Whatever you choose to do, excel.”
The spirit of this advice actually goes against the more conventional Confucianism: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
The logic is this; not all of us are lucky enough to find our “passion” – that is to say, that perfect job which fits and fulfils us in every way – at the very start. That’s a pretty tall order for any young individual starting a career. I think the most important thing is to just start, and whatever you choose to spend your time on, do your very best and do the right thing by the people you work with. Satisfaction follows naturally from that.
Who inspires you?
My dad. He always taught me to look for the intangibles in any situation; to place things like giving back and making a difference (some sort of a higher purpose) over anything else.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d probably never have come back from Alaska.
How do you unwind?
Reading, almost exclusively.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand, Koh Samui. It’s easy to find a quiet, isolated spot despite being an accessible destination. A lot of the islanders are immigrés themselves because of the emerging tourist economy, so I feel comfortable in the cosmopolitan culture.
Everyone in business should read this book:
War of the Flea by Robert Taber.
Sounds like a weird recommendation, seeing as it’s a classic study on guerilla warfare, but I see an almost direct analogy between that and what the startups I have had the privilege to work with do everyday. It’s the psychology and strategic tactics of cataclysmic disruption; how to win on low resources, the importance of stealth and tactics, the overwhelming power of a vision, a cause.
Shameless plug for your business:
Wavemaker Partners is an early stage VC operating out of Los Angeles (Southern California) and Singapore (Southeast Asia). To date, we have 190+ portfolio companies.
Our Southeast Asian portfolio includes Luxola (bought by LVMH’s Sephora), Pie (Google’s first acquisition in Southeast Asia), TradeGecko and aCommerce.
I’m not sure if this is shameless, but we’re a pretty close team doing our best to build something good. We focus on building the right networks for our startups and providing the right support at their crucial stage of growth.
How can people connect with you?
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>