The Art of the Good Deal – Life of a VC
Justin Hall (MPP 2013) has found his niche in the world of venture capital. He works as a Partner with Golden Gate Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in internet and mobile startups across Southeast Asia.
Being the First Point of Contact
My work primarily involves deal sourcing and portfolio management at our venture capital fund. Jeff Paine, one of the two founding partners, and I are typically the ‘first touch’ for a majority of the deals that come in through our investment pipeline. But, that's slowly starting to change as we bring on board more investment professionals.
Basically, I'm the guy that sits down with the entrepreneur for the first time, digs into the business model, the background of the management team, current and forecasted traction, and the value proposition. I take companies from that first conversation all the way to a signed term sheet and investment, which can be anywhere from USD 500,000 to USD 2,500,000.
Making Your Own Work
My job is literally different every day. I wouldn't be able to tell you what I'll be doing next week. I might be talking to entrepreneurs, doing due diligence on a deal, drafting an investment memo for our fund's investment committee, or speaking at conferences. Venture capital is a very independent and self-motivated career. You make your own work, so to speak.
The Professor who Impacted My Work
Genuinely speaking, Professor Jonathan Marshall's class on Leadership was perhaps the most beneficial for me. Bear in mind that I actually took business modules while at LKYSPP. Jonathan’s class equipped me with the skills that I have used -- and continue to use -- everyday in my job. It has had an extraordinary impact on my ability to do my job well.
My job hinges heavily on emotional intelligence. Understanding what motivates and drives entrepreneurs and investors, both the good as well as the bad, is critical. If you can't understand the person across the table from you, then you can't empathize with them. You can't collaborate with them until you begin to understand what makes them tick.
That can mean the difference between investing in a great entrepreneur, finding a good hire, or communicating with another director at the Board level. Jonathan's class was critical in equipping me with the right tools to better understand myself as well as understand the people I work with on a daily basis.
Overcoming My Biggest Challenge
Perhaps the biggest challenge is sourcing the right companies -- and making sure we can give them money. It sounds a bit daft, but extremely competitive deals have no shortage of investors trying to persuade them to accept their investment. The best way to overcome these challenges is to just build up the best reputation you can manage, both amongst entrepreneurs and investors, drive as much value for the founding team as possible, and convey in no uncertain terms that you will support them no matter what, even when it gets tough.
Two of My Proudest Moments
My proudest moment really just falls down to the deals I have sourced and closed. I was the first in my organisation to speak to and vouch for an investment into an Indonesian company called Mapan. It is a local Indonesian community-based saving and lending network, which was recently acquired by GO-JEK. Till date, I believe it was the largest tech acquisition in Indonesian history (although I'm sure that the record will soon be broken). That company is now GO-PAY, which will hopefully become the leading digital wallet in Indonesia (and perhaps Southeast Asia).
My other proud moment was similar: I sourced and actively pushed for an investment into an elderly care platform called Homage. Fortunately, I was a little further in my career, so I could take a more active role there. I currently sit on the Board, and have been able to personally witness the incredible work the founders Lily and Gillian are doing to disrupt and improve eldercare in Singapore and hopefully Southeast Asia.
Life at LKYSPP
Life was a lot simpler when I only had to worry about term papers and my roommate's whiskey-induced alcoholism.