EP 168 – Robin Teurlings – CEO The Startup Buddy – The Other 4,850 Had to Figure It Out on Their Own

by | Jan 1, 2022

Asia Tech Podcast was joined by Robin Teurlings, a co-Founder and CEO of The Startup Buddy and a Managing Partner in the Zero Emissions Fund. The Startup Buddy aims to provide startups with the essential support they need, whenever they need it while providing investors with quality investment opportunities.
Some of the topics that Robin and I covered:
  • Made his first money when he was 6 years old
  • Years later played his recorder on the street to earn money
  • Working for Accenture and what that taught him
  • First time in Asia was a trip to China in 1997
  • That trip inspired him to move to Asia
  • Convincing his wife to support his dream to live in Asia and then moving to Singapore together as an adventure
  • Following his entrepreneurial spirit in Singapore
  • Both this brother and his father were running their own businesses
  • Went to Startup Weekend in Singapore and won third prize
  • Worked on a company for two years that ultimately failed
  • The Startup Buddy
  • The Zero Emissions Fund
Some other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. I Had the Ambition to Become Prime Minister of the Netherlands
  2. I Deal Really Badly With Hot Weather
  3. For a Six-Year-Old, That Was a Lot of Money
  4. Try Googling for Something that You Don’t Know You Should Do
  5. A Practical Framework of How To Work With Customers
  6. At This Point, We Don’t, But We Will
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:02
Michael Waitze Media…Telling Asia’s Stories.

Michael Waitze 0:10
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Robin Teurlings. I tried. Robin is the founder and CEO of The Startup Buddy, and a Managing Partner in the recently launched Zero Emissions Fund. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to talk about both of those things today. Robin, thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you doing?

Robin Teurlings 0:32
I’m doing really well. And thank you very much for having me on the show.

Michael Waitze 0:35
It could not be more of a pleasure for me. Before we get into the main part of our conversation, why don’t we give our listeners a little bit of your background for context?

Robin Teurlings 0:45
So I’m calling in now from Singapore, okay, where I’ve been living for almost seven years, and I’ve been an entrepreneur since I live here, which I’m sure we’ll get to prior to that the interesting parts of my life or my studies, I guess. So. I have a Master’s in Public Policy and Public Administration, once I had the ambition to become Prime Minister of the Netherlands that obviously so far hasn’t worked out. Then I started my professional career at a company called Accenture by now the largest consulting company in the world. I’ve worked at a lot of others, smaller strategy consulting companies company called VCO, in the Netherlands, later on DCE consultants. And my last regular job was at ing the largest bank in the Netherlands. And then seven years ago, me and my wife, we decided to go on our adventure, we moved to Singapore. And that’s where I am now.

Michael Waitze 1:38
But what drives that just, you know, nice couple from the Netherlands, one of the guys who actually says he was thinking about being the prime minister at some point, which by the way, it’s still not too late. What makes you decide to just get up and change because it’s not just the temperature, it’s not just the weather, the culture is different, everything’s different, like what makes you decide to do that.

Robin Teurlings 1:57
In my case, for sure, it’s not the weather, because I deal really badly with hot weather. I also turn red every time I am more than 10 minutes into the sun. So that doesn’t help either. The first time I was in Asia was in 1997, I was lucky enough to go on a trip for two months to China, which at the time was really just opening up, it was not at all yet. The advanced economy that it’s it has become now. And that, for me was such an eye opener in every respect, like until then, I just knew, like Western media talk about what China was supposed to be like, right. And when I actually got there, it turned out to be so much difference. And then and so super interesting. And ever since that trip, I had the dream of moving to Asia and learning more about countries and cultures that are very different from mine. Then when I met my wife, it took some time to get her to the stage to get the same group. And at some point, we basically decided, okay, we’re now together since then yours, we should go for it. Otherwise, we’re gonna regret it later on. So at that point, I, I told my employer ing that I was going to move I quit my job. And we flew over to Singapore.

Michael Waitze 3:21
What is it about guys and gals that work at Accenture or other big consulting firms that makes them so prepared or seem so prepared for running their own companies? And I presume when you move to Singapore, you were planning on starting your own business? Is that fair to say?

Robin Teurlings 3:38
Actually, not sorry. No, I actually had a contract to join ing here in Singapore again, which I didn’t. And the reason I didn’t was I had this idea in the back of my mind to become an entrepreneur. One day, my, my father has had his own company, my brother was already an entrepreneur for I believe, seven years by that time. So it was something that I always had kind of looked at, but never really made the jump to. Then when I was here in Singapore, I participated in started we can Singapore is organized by Tech Stars. I probably was the third or fourth oldest participant in the event, but I had a great time. I also made some really good friends that are still really good friends right now. Right? And we ended up winning for price with the pitch that we did. And then I thought, well, you know what, I mean? I started over moving here anyway, I’ve always had this inclination to maybe do this. So why not now. And that’s how I started. But it wasn’t like a preset up idea that I was going to be an entrepreneur in Singapore, and suited points. You make your life miserably hard by trying to be an entrepreneur in a country that you don’t really know.

Michael Waitze 4:56
Hard enough in your home country.

Robin Teurlings 4:58
Exactly. So there too much you already need to learn anyway. So trying to do in a in a country where you don’t know how things work where you don’t have a network just makes it much more harder. Wasn’t the obvious choice?

Michael Waitze 5:12
Let’s get back to this consulting thing. You know, when Rocket Internet was building their businesses out here back in 2012, and 13, and 14, they mainly hired European people that had gone through some of the big consulting firms, Accenture included, what is it that happens that I’ve never worked at? But what is it that happens there? That’s so great training are such great training for being an entrepreneur.

Robin Teurlings 5:31
Oh, well, specifically for Accenture. Accenture is extremely good, at least when I was there, as soon as Dylan sang in giving you a very practical framework of how to work with customers. What happens at Accenture is that within the first two years of joining, you have to go to their training center which is in Central’s in the US. They train you in basically what is called I think the V model, I’m not sure if that’s the official name, but how to do a project but also how to scope your project, how to interact with your customers to figure out like what they really need compared to what typically customers tell you that they need. Right? The so exchanger, and also the other common consulting companies that I was fortunate to work with, you learn really well, to make the distinction between Why does my customer hire me? And what do they tell me at that point? And what is it actually that they want and need once I’m doing the project or the research or whatever it is that you’re doing? I’m guessing that’s one of the main reasons that a lot of consultants setup companies, because they’re good at listening to something that the customer doesn’t tell you. But that they do want,

Michael Waitze 6:47
right? It probably makes you a great husband as well. I want to ask her, I just I just know that I’m a terrible guesser. Because I don’t understand how to do that as well, as you do. I said it kind of humorously but I do think it adds something really important. You will have customers tell you I want X, Y or Z. But really, they want something completely different. And defining that from what they’re saying is hard work. And requires really great training. So that that’s actually quite important. But also the ability to scope something out from zero. from a startup perspective is really important because it is zero by definition. So being able to do that’s a super great skill. Yeah,

Robin Teurlings 7:26
exactly. And, and the good consoles and companies. They don’t grow big, by doing one contract with a customer, right? They grow, they grow big because they first like that smoke contract that might not be that relevant to them financially. But then getting the other one and the other one and the other one, etc. And that way expanding their business. That’s what you do with your startup as well.

Michael Waitze 7:49
I was gonna say it sounds like a freemium model at scale. Right. Exactly. Yeah, really interesting. You touched on this idea that when you got to China in 1997, it looked differently. And it felt differently to you than what you’d been reading and seeing in the media. And I want to share something with you as well, because it reminded me of something. In 2011, I was in this massive earthquake in Tokyo, right. And that earthquake was actually about 150 160 kilometers away. And she mine in Sendai. And I remember watching the news right after it and in the weeks and months after it. And none of the news that I saw from foreign entities made any sense to me because I was there. And it all seemed wrong. And it it made me feel like as a country as a company as a something, you have to control your own message. Because if you don’t people will say things about you. And the more they say it, the truer it becomes. And I think it’s interesting that you noticed that. What is that? 320, almost 25 years ago? Yeah. Because I think it’s super useful. And it’s not about politics. It’s just about message control. Right. Is that fair?

Robin Teurlings 8:53
I think that’s totally fair. And it hasn’t changed since I mean, I live now in Singapore. So I watch Asian news, but I still also watch Dutch news where where I came from. I also try to watch little bit UK, German us like different sources. And depending on what you follow your perspective on the lawn, the world becomes totally different.

Michael Waitze 9:15
Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s relevant for startups as well. And I want to get to that when we talk about the startup buddy, this idea that you should control the message about you, whatever you are, you should make sure that you are defining that thing. So that if you get press, it’s the press you want it to be in the past that you’ve controlled anyway, talk to me about I’ll tell you, my brother and I, when I was seven or eight years old, started selling door to door. That’s how I made my first money. And I don’t remember being encouraged by my parents to do this. My brother and I were like, Hey, let’s make some extra cash. We ordered some like greeting cards and went around door to door and sold them and we made some money. It was an epiphany. Yeah, right? Because it was like, Wait a second. I can do this and get cash back. How about you? What was your first experience with this?

Robin Teurlings 10:01
My more serious money I made a little bit later. So I’ll tell you that second, but my really first self on money was when I was six, I was on holiday with my parents in France. And basically in France, they drink a lot of wine, right, and you could return those models. So, so during that three week holiday, I’ve been doing that, and I made something like 80 guilders, you know, in three weeks, which for a six year old is a freaking lot of money.

Michael Waitze 10:30
That’s retirement money at six years old.

Robin Teurlings 10:33
So, so that was my first money I made. But in terms of like money that later on, I’ve been able to do other things like investing with, I read a book when I was 12 years old, which is called alone on on the planet. It’s by a French writer, it’s about homeless kids in Paris, they basically make a living by cleaning chimneys, those things that don’t exist anymore, I think. And by being street magicians and street artists. And when I read that book, around the same time, we had in the Netherlands, something called Kings Day, which is basically the biggest party and National Day in the Netherlands. People go out sell their secondhand stuff on the street, but also a lot of people make music or do other kinds of things and basically make money from that. So I figured I would go out with my recorder and play on the street, I made 12 guilders in about an hour, which for 12 year old was a lot of money. Yeah. So then I thought, hey, this makes sense. I should keep doing that. And that basically evolves over time. So I’ve been doing that for free for five years. At some point, I even had like a legal permit from the police and stuff. But I also saved up around 2000 guilders, which is around 2000 euros now. Yeah. So that was like my first job that I made some serious money where

Michael Waitze 11:58
I just think it’s really interesting. If you start working, no matter no matter what the financial status of your parents is, right? I’m indifferent. But once you figure out that there’s a way to earn a living or just to make some income doing something that either you like, or whatever it is. It’s almost like addicting in a way, isn’t it?

Robin Teurlings 12:15
Very. I mean, first of all, I like playing anyway. Right? I have to practice anyway, for my classes.

Michael Waitze 12:24
Why not practice on the street get paid for it?

Robin Teurlings 12:27
Yeah, so it was like a win win situation. I got to go to the city every weekend, which I liked as well. Because there was like a lot of hustle and bustle. There was a lot of positive feedback, there also was a lot of negative feedback. I’ve been raised not to care too much about the negative feedback. So yeah, I really liked doing it.

Michael Waitze 12:48
Yeah. And I think it informs again, just running your own company later. I like this idea that your father and your brother were running their own companies, and it’s somewhere in the back of your head, you always thought I have to do this thing on my own. And I think that people go through sort of what I’ll call a life reset a couple of times in their lives, sometimes on their own sometimes forced, right. But this idea that you moved, and you’re going to reset anyway. I don’t know. I like it, because everything’s blank. And you don’t know anything. And I kind of liked being in difficult situations. Right? When I moved to Thailand, I didn’t really know anybody or anything going on here. Yeah. And I’m still here thriving. So I’m curious why you chose to start the company that you did was the startup but the first thing you did? Or was that a follow on to some other experiences that you had? And you said, I think we need to build this thing.

Robin Teurlings 13:35
I shared earlier about how I became an entrepreneur for a startup weekend, Singapore. Yep. And the company that we pitched at the time was an online financial planning platform that would help people save money for buying a car or invest for their retirement, I made a lot of mistakes pursuing that company, the main mistake I made was trying to do something in Asian context that probably would have worked in a European context where I came from. I’m not going to explain all of that. But long story short, we pursued that company. We worked on it for almost two years. And then we decided to abandon it because we couldn’t get to a model where we were making enough money. So when that happened, which is not fun, as any entrepreneur can tell you. Then me and my co founders, we sat down, and we started also analyzing a little bit like why did this go wrong? Right? Because I had had a decent career. I had a monster behind my name. So did my co founders. It was not like we were stupid guys. We had some money in the bank. So in that sense, we couldn’t make it work as well. We were in Singapore, which is a startup capital. So from the outside, we had everything going for us. And it still didn’t go the way we wanted. And then at some point, it started to dawn on us that basically for us, we had taken too long to switch from being an employee with a lot of support that you’re not aware of. Yeah, to become an enterpreneur, where you’re basically on your own. And when you become an entrepreneur, you don’t have resources, you don’t have the support network, you cannot delegate to other colleagues or specialists or whatever. And in the meantime, you’re always in a rush, because you’re small and vulnerable. There’s so much stuff that you have to do at the same time. And we basically didn’t have anything around us that would support us, what we had tried is to get in a couple of accelerators, right. But we were not in the right stage, or we didn’t have the right team or not the right industry for whatever reason we didn’t get in. So we had to figure it out ourselves. Now, in hindsight, there was a lot of stuff that we could have done differently. But when we were doing it, we didn’t know. So. So when that started to dawn on us, then we started thinking, okay, so we had tried to get into all these programs would have been a different solution. And basically, there hadn’t been in Singapore. By that time, there were around 5000 tech tech startups, according to enterprise, Singapore, and maybe 150 of those were going to accelerators, meaning that the other 4850 had to figure it out, like we did, on their own.

Michael Waitze 16:12
Yeah, in a vacuum.

Robin Teurlings 16:16
Yeah, exactly. So. And that basically spawned the idea for the startup buddy, then we basically thought, Well, I mean, there’s so many people trying to do this from scratch like we did. Can we do this in a better, more scalable way that’s accessible to more people, which by now we have built into a startup buddy, which is entirely online and open to anybody.

Michael Waitze 16:37
So tell me, how does this work? Right? It’s a very interesting idea. You’re right, like if I can’t get into JFDI? And if I can’t get into Antler, and if I can’t get into some of these programs, I’m just kind of twisting in the wind on my own. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a great idea. Right.

Robin Teurlings 16:52
Exactly. And to be clear, right? I wish I had been in one of those problems.

Michael Waitze 16:56
Yeah, same here. Yeah. There’s nothing wrong with it. But if you don’t get in, it still doesn’t mean you’re running some terrible company. It just means maybe there wasn’t room or your industry, wasn’t there focus on there already three other ladies doing that business kind of thing? Are there plenty of reasons why you’re not there? So tell me more about the startup buddy? Is it more like just an ongoing constant without a particular class, meaning there’s not like group one, group two, group three, just a constant like accelerator program.

Robin Teurlings 17:23
So So typically, what they will teach you, in accelerator programs, or in good entrepreneurship courses in universities, is a couple of things that will teach you the hard skills about what you need to do when you’re running a company, right? Like, how do you build a team? How do you hire and put together people? What do you need to look out for? How do you do marketing for different types of businesses, because if you do marketing for an E commerce company, it will be totally different. As if you’re a deep tech company that’s selling some kind of physical product, how do you do legal work, like setting up contracts with partners or customers, or employees, or your co founders are very important maybe to start with, so. So there’s a lot of these things that any company needs to do. And a lot of those things that we’ll teach you either in enterpreneurship, courses or in accelerators. The other thing that these programs will help you with is building your network because no company can survive by itself. I’ve never met any entrepreneur that doesn’t need customers, investors, mentors, or somebody else to build the company. It’s simply impossible. So So you need a network of all types of people around you that probably when you start out, don’t have sometimes you have because you’ve been in the industry before, but a lot of people don’t have that network yet. Those are the two main advantages of being an accelerator. Yeah. And then, and then the third one, if you’re in one of the really, really good ones, like YC, or JFDI, the exposure, that also helps a huge deal, right? If you get promoted by them, like you’ve gone through their demo day, then raising funding is gonna be wildly easier than if you didn’t, but out of those three things, two things are actually quite generic knowledge, in the sense that all those skills of being your companies, I mean, I don’t have my bookcase behind me right now. But there, if you go to the library, it’s not like it’s not been done before, right? It’s not a secret. It’s another secret. The thing is, it’s not very accessible to a lot of people. And people cannot really search for the right step to do at the moment that they need it. Like a lot of comments that we used to get was, yeah, but I have Google, well try googling for something that you don’t know that you should do, right? Basically, what we have tried to do on the startup buddy is built the journey of the difference art skill steps that any company needs to do into a platform. We have a toolkit called the startup builder. Basically, it’s guide you through all those things like how to do your legal work out Do your marketing, etc, etc. And it helps you through how to do fundraising, which is a major step and also very difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs how to how to build your pitch. And through the platform and through the events that we do, we build a network. So we do two events Demo Day, where companies on our platform can showcase case themselves to investors, and founders fusion where they can find everybody else that they need very often co founders a big problem is, I have, I have a great idea. But I have nobody who will help me realize that so so that’s what we do during founders future. So there we do the, basically the network part. Then the third thing, the third, and the fourth thing that you need for your company, making yourself known outside, we help with that a little bit. But I think it’s a lot that you have to do yourself. And the fourth thing, of course, you still have to do execute, and have a good idea and everything else yourself. So we help on the generic parts, not on having a great idea that you need to ask yourself,

Michael Waitze 21:03
yeah, for sure. I mean, you shouldn’t be able to come up with an idea for somebody, you shouldn’t have to excuse me come up with an idea for somebody else anyway. So do you charge for this? Are you making money from doing this?

Robin Teurlings 21:12
We do. We run a freemium model, meaning that all the early stage things within our platform, so the Academy, the toolkits, the networking, all of that is free. But once you get to the stage that your company is more evolved, that you should have first revenue that you become interesting for investors, anyone to connect to dos, then you have to take a membership on the platform. The other way we actually make the majority of our revenue right now is through a white label version of our platform, where we collaborate with other accelerators, schools, big companies that run innovative projects. Either they do that for our own platform, or they have entirely standard long white label versions.

Michael Waitze 21:54
That’s interesting. And do you update the content? I don’t want to say constantly, but often?

Robin Teurlings 21:59
Yes, we do. So we have. So we have the academy, like I said, the Startup Academy, basically, there you can find videos and texts about anything that an enterpreneur typically needs to learn about. But it’s also in different levels of complexity. Because we, for example, work together with some of the polytechnics here in Singapore, yep. where the where the students are anywhere between 16 and 18, or 19 years old. So for them, we have different content, then for all professional guys like myself that probably already have a lot of background.

Michael Waitze 22:35
How many companies would you say or startups would you say have used or use the platform on a yearly basis? And I guess that would include even some of the white label stuff. You don’t mean because you gave a great statistic. You’re like 150 companies are participating in these accelerators. But that means there are 4850 that aren’t I’m sure those numbers have changed, but the percentage probably hasn’t changed right.

Robin Teurlings 22:56
Now I actually think the percentage has gone down. Right on

Michael Waitze 22:59
the participation in other accelerated programs. That’s gone down. Yeah. percentage basis. Yeah. Because more companies are getting started.

Robin Teurlings 23:05
Yeah, well, that’s that also, of course, and the number of accelerators at least here. My impression

Michael Waitze 23:12
is has gone down. Yeah, there are fewer.

Robin Teurlings 23:15
So so the percentage has definitely dropped. So your question at the moment, we have a little bit over two and a half 1000 enterpreneurs. Working on ideas. I’m specifically saying on ideas, yeah, that doesn’t mean that they will ever progress to the stage that they’re going to be seed series a funded. So on the platform itself. At the moment, 52 companies are fundraising. So that means that they have worked out what they do they have a team, they have attraction of a minimum viable product. They’re either in seed series A or sometimes Series B stage.

Michael Waitze 23:51
And how do you find the people on the other side? It sounds like it’s a two sided marketplace? But how do you find the potential investors on the other side? Do they come to your platform? Or is that meant for these companies, these 52 companies to do on their own, but you just teach them how to do it.

Robin Teurlings 24:04
So we launched the investor side of our platform two and a half years ago, during an event that we did at the time, called table’s turned where we basically had investors pitch to startups. Yeah, it was actually a lot of fun. I love it. So what’s, by the way, also pretty uncomfortable for some of the history.

Michael Waitze 24:24
What makes you so good, tough guy anyway, go. Exactly don’t get so.

Robin Teurlings 24:29
So that’s when we initially launched the investor side of the platform. Imagine a hybrid between what you probably know from Angel List or CrunchBase. So you basically see the pitch decks and the fundraising information of the companies that have decided to start fundraising for the platform and open it up over time we have expanded on that quite a bit. So by now for example, we onboard also investors that look to raise funding for their funds. So we have something called the fund builder, which is basically help don’t figure out how to get LPS into their funds. We have the startup stock exchange. So the startup stock exchange allows startups to virtually sell shares to investors through the platform and investors can buy those. To be very clear, there’s no money involved at this point in time. So startups get 1 million shares that don’t represent any legal contracts, right? The investors have fined 5 million coins, you cannot come to me and ask for actual dollars in exchange, but we actually do want to go there. So by next year, we actually hope to open up a startup equity trading platform where the current stock exchange, which is more a game and a way to connect investors to startups will become really a place where startups can sort of IPO to an investor and investor can invest in those companies.

Michael Waitze 25:54
Very interesting concept, is there going to be a blockchain part of this as well?

Robin Teurlings 26:00
At some point, probably, but in my opinion, too early, I’ve, I’ve been looking with a lot of interest at all Ico boom in 2018, which, to me was kind of validation of, for what we’re trying to do, right. But for the stage that we are in blockchain itself, I don’t think adds enough value to the platform yet for our current users. And it’s very, very expensive to develop.

Michael Waitze 26:28
Yeah, to build. And just to be clear, I wasn’t I wasn’t suggesting that we do ICOs for this, but just using distributed ledger technology to create fractional ownership, even on a regular equity share basis to be able to do that. manage that and then trade it later. That’s the only thing that I was talking. Yeah, exactly. You have over 2000 people working on ideas. That’s a lot of people. A lot of ideas. Yeah, the more ideas you see, and the longer you do this, the more discerning as a firm or even as an individual you can be about what is and what isn’t going to work, right. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like, it’s pretty obvious. If you look at this from seven years ago, and you’re like, oh, everything looks gonna work. And then you’re like, No, no, 3% of this stuff is gonna work. And I can figure out pretty easily by looking at it now and doing some pattern matching. And I’m simplifying for sure. But you can figure out what’s gonna work? Do you invest as well in some of the stuff that’s on your platform? Is that possible?

Robin Teurlings 27:22
So thank you for this question. At this point, we don’t, but we will. So you mentioned already during my intro, that we’re setting up our own funds and zero emissions funds. Yeah. And that is with the intention to start investing in some of the platforms within within the startup, buddy.

Michael Waitze 27:41
Okay, well, let’s talk about I mean, that’s a great segue, not purposeful at all on my board. But that just works. Talk to me about this because zero emissions, it makes it sound like it’s going to be like an ESG style fund that is focused on sustainability. I’m presuming that of the 2000 ideas that are on your platform. Now, not all of them are, you know, built in with some ESG component, although I will say that there’s this secular change taking place in the world where a lot of companies are now considering this as they build, right.

Robin Teurlings 28:08
More and more companies are integrating it. But very often as like, later stage prior, right and bolt on later, as an add on. Our funds will not be investing in that type of companies. Okay. It has to be your first or second priority. Not lower.

Michael Waitze 28:25
Yeah. Yeah. Got it. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense. And it’s not part of this zero emission thing. It’s just bolting something on which is in a way insulting to the people that are making the investments. Exactly. And is this going to be a regular LP GP style fund? Are you raising money for it already?

Robin Teurlings 28:40
Yes and no. So we still have to do a lot of legal work, which we’re working on. But obviously, I’m talking to a lot of people. So interest is really good. For me personally, for a lot of obvious reasons. But also because in this region, I’m talking about Southeast Asia, right. This is this is still quite novel. There is not many funds focusing on this yet. One came up recently, but so far, the majority of investors really putting serious money into sustainability, climate, climate tech, and that kinds of solutions comes from the US, Europe, China, other other large developed economies, but they’re not so much based here in the region itself yet. No. I think there’s a huge potential for having dedicated funds here specifically in Singapore because I believe that some of the solutions we we need in this area for Southeast Asia will probably have to be different as they are in other parts of the world.

Michael Waitze 29:44
Absolutely. Look, we see companies like Goby that have been around for a while right go be ventures I think it’s called or Gobi partners. So yeah, remember, but obviously, they’ve been around for 20 years, they just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They’ve just dedicated a particular person pour right to do all their sustainability stuff, you see, the impact collective, which was founded by the guy who started Vicky and his wife actually move unless I dreamt this but moved from Korea to bring the headquarters from Korea into Singapore as well. I think you’re right. This is the future, I think of investing in startup companies are finding ways to whether it’s zero emissions or any kind of climate related change, food sustainability, all of these things really matter. Yeah. And we see great companies getting built in Singapore for the region. And also correct. It has to be different here. Because just the nature and the status of the economies in this region are different. Yeah,

Robin Teurlings 30:36
yeah. Yeah, to give a very concrete but simple, understandable example for everyone. I think the most valuable or maybe it’s currently number two or three company in the world is Tesla, which is a great company, which would fit our portfolio if it was in any way possible for me to still be an early stage. But the product that they make the cars, they’re fantastic. for countries like us, yeah, Europe, developed countries where infrastructure is great, etc. However, I have a hard time seeing a lot of Tesla’s anytime soon in any of the surrounding countries of Singapore or Indonesia, Philippines, etc, etc. So solutions like that, we will need similar solutions, but adapted to the context that we have here.

Michael Waitze 31:28
Right. I mean, this is one of the interesting things that you were talking about earlier, when you were discussing the building of your first company. And one of the notes that I wrote down was this idea of localization. And it’s a conversation I have often but a lot of people confuse like changing fonts changing, you know, languages and stuff for localization. It’s not at all, there are these subtle and nuanced differences in every country, and we saw the American car, you’re probably too young to remember this, when we saw the American car companies fail miserably in Japan, because if you’ve ever walked around Kyoto or Tokyo, you couldn’t get a Cadillac Eldorado around the corner, no matter how nice it was, and no matter how cheap it was, it just couldn’t go down that street. The surgeries on the wrong side,

Robin Teurlings 32:10
I did not know that. But that’s got a sucker if you find it out, when the when the ship with all the courses are delivered.

Michael Waitze 32:18
This was a big problem in the 70s and 80s, the American car companies were complaining, like why don’t you buy our cars, we’re buying a ton of yours. And they were like, where am I going to park this thing? Yeah, it just doesn’t work, right. And it was reversed. Because in the US, the streets were huge. Parking lots were large. And Japanese cars were small, because they were fitted and built specifically for Japanese streets. But that type of thing matters. Can you tell me a little bit more about like how big you think the zero emissions fund is going to be?

Robin Teurlings 32:45
So we’re looking to raise 25 million US dollars. Okay. At this moment, we’re planning to do tickets anywhere between $25,000 and $500,000. Okay, that’s probably going to get more specific when we can come closer to closing the fund itself. Why that wide range, because Southeast Asia, like we already discussed is very diverse. And there’s countries in this region where you can add $25,000 really already do something as a company? Yep. Whereas at $500,000. In some countries, you cannot do anything yet, right? So so but we are looking to invest 75% of whatever we invest here in the region and in India. So that’s the reason for the wide range of tickets.

Michael Waitze 33:35
And just let’s just get back to the sort of connection with the startup buddy as well. Does that operate outside of Singapore? does it operate in India? does it operate in Indonesia? Is is it regional as well? Or is it just specific to Singapore?

Robin Teurlings 33:47
I didn’t mention it before. But actually, The Startup Buddy outside, outside Singapore is now bigger than in Singapore. So actually, our biggest market is now Indonesia, then India, and then Singapore. Singapore is dropping down the ranks not because we’re doing bad here, but because other countries are bigger. Right. And for to fund itself. We are recruiting across the region. So we’re using the startup buddy platform to recruit companies for the zero emissions funds. So we’re doing that in a zero emissions way as well. We’re not planning to travel around Asia and meet people a lot. Also, not when it’s possible. And anything that fits the profile, and that looks interesting, potentially, potentially is in play.

Michael Waitze 34:31
How can people get in touch with you if they’re interested in learning more about the startup buddy or about the zero emissions fund?

Robin Teurlings 34:38
Always best through our websites? So the startup buddy.ce O, or zero emissions funds.vc All the information is there and our my contact details are there. And we’re also always really happy to get in touch with anybody wanting to know more.

Michael Waitze 34:56
Super, thank you to Robin teurlings, the CEO of the startup buddy And a managing partner zero emissions fun thank you so much for coming on and doing this today that was super

Robin Teurlings 35:06
Thank you very much as well it was really fun to do.


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