In this episode of The First Close, we interview Justin Hall and Michael Lints, partners at Golden Gate Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Singapore. Founded in 2011, Golden Gate Ventures invests in seed-stage and Series A companies across Southeast Asia. Few institutional investors were interested in that thesis when the firm started—but today, the growing startup ecosystem has validated Golden Gate Ventures’ strategy of investing in local and regional companies.
“We’re all witnessing this pretty significant paradigm shift in how these global investors are perceiving the region,” says Justin, who calls Southeast Asia “a massive market that’s underserved.” The team’s 2021 Southeast Asia Exit Landscape Report, authored in partnership with INSEAD, estimates that 700 startup exits will occur between 2023 and 2025—a prediction grounded in three assumptions: regional unicorns becoming key strategic acquirers, increased participation from global investors and corporate VCs, and support from regional and international stock exchanges.
Together, Justin and Michael have made 65 investments at Golden Gate Ventures since they joined the team in 2012 and 2013, respectively. They say the key to the firm’s success lies in the team’s consistent focus on partnering with founders who are addressing hyperlocal problems in Southeast Asia. As Michael explains:
“We are looking for the right companies and the right founders who understand the dynamics of the region, who are able to attack a problem that is hyper-local. [That problem] could be very specific to Indonesia or very specific to Vietnam, and that’s their background, that’s how they view the world, and that’s how they are trying to solve this problem.”
In this episode of The First Close, we cover:
- How Golden Gate Ventures attracted its first LPs to invest in Southeast Asia
- The types of founders and companies the firm prefers
- Advice for launching a career in venture capital