China experience more relevant to India, Indonesia than US: Shunwei’s Tuck Lye Koh

Shunwei Capital founding partner and CEO Tuck Lye Koh at DealStreetAsia's Indonesia PE-VC Summit 2020. Photo: DealStreetAsia

Shunwei Capital’s name is derived from a Chinese idiom which means “to leverage a trend to achieve greatness.”

Speaking at DealStreetAsia’s Indonesia PE-VC Summit 2020 last week, Tuck Lye Koh, founding partner and CEO of Shunwei Capital, said his team continues to stay true to its original mission. Its investment approach continues to be deeply influenced by the boom years of China’s internet industry in the early 2000s. 

“If we turn back the clock to 2010, nobody from the Internet industry in China would have believed that it was going to be so big… When we invested in India in 2015, it was a very crucial transition point. Feature phones were transitioning to smartphones, smartphone penetration was exceeding 100 million shipments every year, Reliance Jio was rolling out a 4G network,” he said.

This has led the Beijing-based venture capital firm to expand its investment scope to India and Indonesia in a bid to catch the same wave of opportunities brought about by higher mobile usage, strong internet connectivity and visionary entrepreneurs.

Shunwei’s investments in this region are close adaptations of those found in China. These include the likes of India’s ShareChat (the equivalent of Weibo), Pratilipi (like China Literature), Meesho (like Pinduoduo) and KrazyBee (the equivalent of Fengqile). 

In Indonesia, Shunwei’s investments remain selective and opportunistic. It is an investor in Indonesia’s ride-hailing giant Gojek, fintech startup Akulaku, and Evermos, a social commerce startup targeting halal shoppers.

“We are strong believers that the China experience is much more relevant to India and Indonesia than the US experience. We share many similarities across these countries – densely populated cities, developing countries, and young, talented and ambitious entrepreneurs,” explained Tuck.  

Today, Shunwei has over $3 billion of funds under management. It has invested in about 400 companies, of which 22 are unicorns including Xiaomi. The Chinese VC has also completed nine IPOs, with another four set to take place by the end of this year. 

Tuck was confident that 2020 would still be a healthy year for exits. 

“2019’s public capital market has substantially outperformed my expectations. I think we might see something similar to 2019 in 2020. It might be less bullish, but I think the IPO window should continue to exist in 2020,” he said.

Tuck was interviewed on stage by Ken Koyanagi, editor-at-large of the Nikkei Asian Review. The transcript below was edited for length and clarity.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.