English translation of an interview by HKEJ/ StartupBeat (http://startupbeat.hkej.com/?p=91769)
Venture capitalists (VC) tend to support start-ups with strong growth potential. However, these ‘diamonds in the rough’ are hard to come by. The venture capital matching platform Bamboo Network, developed by Gen-Z entrepreneurs Yina Chan and Aditya Mehta, allows different types of start-ups to showcase their company’s details through the use of artificial intelligence algorithms which recommend suitable opportunities to VC.
As a matching platform, investors are required to fill in their personal investment intentions and strategy-related information when using Bamboo Network for the first time. This information includes whether they wish to invest in a field they are familiar with, whether they are more interested in first-time or serial entrepreneurs and how many start-up investments the investor wishes to partake in every year, etc. Bamboo Network cofounder, Yina Chan, explained that “some investors may only wish to do one to two deals per year, while others may prefer to invest in more companies but in small amounts each time.”
As for start-ups, they may create a company profile on Bamboo Network after registering for an account and having their identity verified by the platform, which allows them to introduce the company team, development direction, production features, and what problems the product solves, etc. Subsequently, the system algorithm will analyze the above-mentioned start-up information and compare it with the investor’s investment strategy, platform browsing preferences, etc. and recommend start-ups that he/she may be interested in investing in. In addition, investors can also find start-ups with a similar business nature through the platform, which allows them to compare.
Open for registration in September, Major investors to join
The coronavirus swept the world this year. Coupled with tensions between Sino-US relations, the global venture capital market has been affected. So why did Yina Chan and her partner, Aditya Mehta, still insist on launching a matching platform now? Mehta explained that because of the cancellation of venture capital events, “investors can assess start-ups from a more objective perspective and find companies that are truly worth investing in, rather than simply making decisions based on the exceptional pitching ability of the start-up founder.” Yina Chan also agrees that the closure of many traditional companies due to the pandemic will accelerate the pace of digital transformation and create more start-ups, which will place Bamboo Network in a good position.
However, the pair are still prudent about Bamboo Network and expect to open up their platform in September so that start-ups and investors can register and use it; So far, 10 investors have joined the platform and 20 start-ups are participating in platform testing. Yina Chan claims that amongst the 10 investors who have joined the platform, there are several major VCs. It is not appropriate to disclose the identity of the VCs at this point, but she hopes that they will help encourage more entrepreneurs and professionals to act as Angel investors, join the platform and invest into local start-ups.
The pair also emphasized that the platform will not directly recommend which start-ups on the platform investors should invest. “You can imagine it as Netflix – the more Korean dramas you watch, the more similar productions the system will recommend to you.” If investors are interested in a certain start-up on the platform, they can private message the start-up through the platform and request a meeting or obtain more information about the company’s operations.
Yina Chan added that the key target customers of the platform are: early-stage investors; seed to series A start-ups, especially the ones who already launched services or products in the market with certain amount of operational data (e.g. amount of paying users). “In Asia, it is harder to attract investors if you merely have a concept without launching the actual product.”
Cofounded by HKU mentor and mentee
Among the two cofounders of the platform, Mehta is an HKU fresh graduate from India, while Yina Chan was his tutor during his stay at a residential hall.
Mehta revealed that he is currently a full-time entrepreneur. He works hard at iDendron, HKU’s innovation and entrepreneurship center every day, while Yina Chan maintains her main job at a venture capital firm. As a VC, she points out that since she has become a start-up founder, she “has better understood what is missing in the venture capital industry.”
Yina Chan said frankly that Bamboo Network also needs to search for investors. However, since the platform focuses on venture capital matching and she is a VC herself, the platform will only raise funds from Angel investors for the time being to avoid conflict of interests. The platform’s Angel round financing could have been completed in August, but more time has been required for further discussion with an incoming investor.