We Believe In Supporting Startups And Helping Them Become Future Technology Giants – Ben Lim, Managing Partner Of NEXEA

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Ben Lim is managing partner of NEXEA, a start-up accelerator, angel network and venture capital. NEXEA has invested in more than 35 start-ups in South East Asia and is known for creating value from their investments. NEXEA is supported by experienced entrepreneurs who have carried out mergers and acquisitions and IPOs themselves or who are CEOs of listed companies. They also want to bring in the next wave of entrepreneurs.

Ben founded NEXEA with several partners and since then manages the business flow and investments in start-ups. It has also launched 3 acceleration programs with Watchtower & Friends and Sunway iLabs and several other corporate partners such as AWS, Google Cloud, IBM, Microsoft Cloud and Digital Ocean.

He has extensive experience in validating start-ups, from MVP to investment attraction, and in raising funds for start-ups. Over the years, Ben has advised more than 1,000 start-ups on fundraising and the foundations of entrepreneurship.

In an exclusive interview with Ben, he said

We believe in supporting start-ups and helping them become the technological giants of the future. We want to help start-ups succeed by finding, supporting and financing them. So when we go to the office, it’s not to work, it’s to help starters grow.

  • It was very important for me to have the courage to keep trying new ways. With this many can succeed
  • Knowing the right people and learning from them is also important to me. That’s why I want them to be able to learn from people who are better than them.
  • Patience is another way to seize opportunities. There are possibilities in life from time to time. You have to prepare for that. You also have to be patient enough in the right position to get them.

Read on to find out more about Ben Lima and his journey.

What is your education and experience in this field?

Ben Lim: I have a background in software and design. Nevertheless, I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and I believe that technology is changing the world. I have an MBA and I’ve invested my entire career in start-ups.

When did you first think of setting up a fund?

Ben Lim: It was actually a coincidence – at first we didn’t want to invest in start-ups. We’ve looked at ideas for starters, but we’ve slowly moved towards helping starters grow and finance them. We had the right ingredients – we knew the right people, we had the right talents and we were able to achieve what we wanted to do. So we started out as a network of angel investors, but slowly evolved into venture capital.

In which companies/sectors have you invested so far?

Ben Lim: We have invested in several start-ups in the region and in many industries. We can do this because of our unique value proposition – our investors are willing to hire our startups. They are business people with different backgrounds and an extensive network. In this way, together we can offer added value to many types of starters. We call it the sector diagnosis. We have almost 40 start-ups serving the mass market and large companies in many sectors.

In which companies would you like to invest? And what is your mental model to invest in?

Ben Lim: As industrial diagnosticians, we are mainly looking for companies that can meet the needs of a large market and disrupt their market with technology. Of course, the team plays a major role – and this is usually reflected in the results. We are lucky to have a constant high throughput, so we can choose from the best. As venture capital investments are very competitive, very few start-ups receive funding, especially in the early stages. That’s why we always find only the best companies to finance.

What is your typical investment range and how many start-ups do you invest in total per year? Moreover, can starters with a foreign head office get financing from you?

Ben Lim: We play in an extremely early area of the starting rotation. Because of this, our tickets are smaller than the typical VC tickets. We invest up to $250,000 a round. Typically, this means that we participate in financing rounds of up to $1 million. In general, we only consider investments in Southeast Asia as our area of focus.

What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you usually test for the growth of start-ups?

Ben Lim: For example, it may vary depending on the sector of activity. B. LTV, CAC, MoM, etc., but it will be useful to better understand your additional investment factors.

The growth rate of income is a simple and effective indicator of the growth of a start-up company. If we look at the scalability of a start-up, the VLT/CAC is a good indicator. Overall, we are looking at too many parameters to mention them all. The reason for this is that when assessing seedlings we want to look at the whole package and not just at a few important points. We finance sustainable, high-growth companies that can make big profits one day. If you’re reading this and you’re a startup capable of doing this, we’d love to hear from you!

How do you deal with the COWID 19 epidemic to ensure the continuity of your foundation?

Ben Lim: Fortunately, COVID-19 has no direct influence on us. Our investment strategies already cover these risks up to COVID, as would be the case for many diversified investors. If I was the vice president of the trip, this would be a terrible situation. But we are well diversified, so even if some areas are affected, it is generally an expected and manageable scenario for us. We are fortunate to be able to quickly support our start-ups in the early stages of COVID and give them the help they need. So far, not a single start has failed by COVID.

As soon as you become an investor, as in the beginning, you will have to go through difficult times to set up the first fund, but also to set up a second fund or to give good returns to these limited partnerships. If there has been such a difficult time, please let us know and tell us how you (or your team) have overcome the difficult times?

It’s never easy to invest in start-up companies – you may have problems with business flows, fundraising, portfolio management, etc. This is also a good thing because most venture capitalists or start-up investors would not have had previous experience in all these areas. Having an extensive network and competent advisors is undoubtedly an important factor for success in this area. Some of them have already experienced a similar situation and their experience can always point you in the right direction.

Do you also have advice for who wants to start a foundation?

Ben Lim: If you want to lay a foundation, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. Also know your own personal clue. Can you create a sufficiently large gift from the start? Can this fund support a full team? What are your main differentiators as a fund manager – can you compete with existing fund managers? Do you really have the passion to easily set up a foundation (and most likely several foundations) that will last 10 years each? The management of the funds is extremely competitive, so it is important to answer all these questions positively!

What mistakes do you think the founders made in fundraising?

Ben Lim: In general, these are high scores, especially those that are at least twice as high as their counterparts in the world – if they do not have the size, quality or dynamics of their counterparts. Investors have many choices when deciding which companies to invest in. So if you set an extremely high price, it will be very easy for investors to outperform you. My advice is to get to know your direct competitors or fellow companies and gain insight into their figures and how they arrived at their values.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who have the opportunity to meet investors like you? What are the three most important questions you always ask the founders?

Ben Lim: First of all, it’s not difficult to contact us as we try to answer all your questions through our website – so sign up at NEXEA.co and my team will help you look for funds.

When meeting with venture capitalists, it is useful to follow the usual etiquette and advice: be on time, be presentable and practice your presentation!

I usually ask questions to find out what you can get back if you manage to become a big player on the market. Can you get up to 100 million dollars or even a billion dollars?

I would also check if you have the right business model and how and why you think that. Does the market really revolve around your business model or that of your competitors?

I mean, I want to understand the founder and the team. What enables them to compete with all other starters? Where do they stand in relation to my main founders?

What is your general opinion about the global concept and what are the important factors (criteria) that local seedlings should take into account in international development?

Ben Lim: Globalization is a good thing, but it is not even necessary for most start-ups. Many companies depend on human factors, which makes it difficult to replace them with technology and scale. As a result, most seedlings eventually move to the regions and focus on their regions in order to maintain this competitive advantage. Of course, some of them are designed to be used worldwide, and we have seen some of them, but there are few that can really be used worldwide.

Important factors for expansion abroad are a very strong management team and very solid, repeatable and reproducible processes. Cultural understanding, empowerment, etc. are also very important aspects. We have several startups that have already developed and they often ask for advice – that’s why the guidance of people who have had this experience is very important.

Which starting or technological sector do you think will develop in the future, e.g. B. in the field in 2 or 3 years’ time, will have an impact on the world?

Ben Lim: I think AI will change the local start-up landscape in a shorter timeframe – 2 to 3 years. We are already seeing the impact of AI on, for example, UAVs, and I think we will see more of it in B2B applications.

How to stay motivated every day

Ben Lim: We believe in supporting start-ups and helping them become the technological giants of the future. We want to help start-ups succeed by finding, supporting and financing them. So when we go to the office, it’s not to work, it’s to help starters grow.

What are the three most important life lessons you want your (future) sons and daughters to learn?

Ben Lim:

  • It was very important for me to have the courage to keep trying new ways. With this many can succeed
  • Knowing the right people and learning from them is also important to me. That’s why I want them to be able to learn from people who are better than them.
  • Patience is another way to seize opportunities. There are possibilities in life from time to time. You have to prepare for that. You also have to be patient enough to put them in the right position.

You can follow Ben Lim.

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