I caught up with Michael Smith, Jr., a Partner at SeedPlus. SeedPlus is a seed-stage venture firm based in Singapore that invests in teams based in the Southeast Asian region that want to build global, transformative businesses. It has been about a year since the last time Michael was on the podcast. A lot has changed in that year and we also talked in-depth about what has changed during the more than three years since the fund was founded. There have been many changes in that time, not the least of which has been the structural change in the amount of funding available for founders in Southeast Asia, from Southeast Asian funds. In many ways, it is a great time to be a founder in this region’s major technology and startup hubs.
While this IS true, launching a startup is still a difficult and arduous process. SeedPlus’ Project Alpha, in conjunction with AWS, aims to make that process a little bit easier. Part of the premise of Project Alpha, according to the conversation we had, is that it is prohibitive to set up accelerators in every major Southeast Asia city. So, why not travel to those cities and create a targeted event to help educate and inspire the next generation of founders. After building the program in four cities last year (Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, and Singapore), the team is adding two new cities this year…Ho Chi Minh and Manila.
This year’s event in Bangkok is taking place at True Digital Park…which we discussed in our conversation as well. I am frequently recording at TDPK and I can say without hesitation that this is an incredibly ambitious project. Dovetailing nicely with the recently launched Thailand GameChanger podcast, Michael and I also spent some time discussing some of the aspects of the Thai Startup ecosystem that need to be improved to make Thailand even more competitive than it already is. Michael never disappoints with his insights and straightforward opinions.