EP 325 – Building a Marketplace and Democratizing M&A for SMEs – Marcus Yeung – Match.Asia and SEAbridge Partners

by | Jun 19, 2024

So it's actually very interesting how technology is taking a lot of the grunt work out of investment banking, which allows the real investment bankers to focus on the important stuff, which is, you know, the negotiations and the closing of the deals and more personal stuff. There is a good company in Japan, which has a good precedent called M&A Research Institute, which is a listed. And within it's a listed company, it's a similar business, and we're following basically the same path as they have. And they closed 150 deals last year. And they made $60 million of revenue. And it's a very profitable business model. - Marcus Yeung

The journey of entrepreneurship is often fraught with challenges, triumphs, and valuable lessons. Asia Tech Podcast had the pleasure of conversing with Marcus Yeung, a seasoned entrepreneur and investment banker. Marcus is the co-Founder and Managing Partner at Match.Asia and the Founder of Seabridge Partners. Our discussion provided important insights into the world of entrepreneurship, particularly within the context of the evolving landscape of technology and investment banking.

 

Some of the topics Marcus covered in detail:

  • Embracing failure and the important learnings that result from it
  • The power of long-term relationships
  • The role of technology in scaling businesses
  • The importance of integrity, humility, and gratitude
  • A future where investment banking is significantly disrupted by technology
  • The importance of long-term relationships and career evolution
Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Marcus Yeung 0:00
So it’s actually very interesting how technology is taking a lot of the grunt work out of investment banking, which allows the real investment bankers to focus on the important stuff, which is the negotiations and the closing of the deals, the more personal stuff. There is a good company in Japan which is a good president, called m&a Research Institute, which is a listed and with a it’s a listed company. It’s a similar business, and we’re following basically the same path as they have. And they closed 150 deals last year, and they made $60 million of revenue, and it’s a very profitable business model.

Michael Waitze 0:37
Hi. This is Michael waitze, and welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Marcus Yeung, a co- Founder and Managing Partner at Match.Asia, and the Founder of SEAbridge Partners, is with us today. Marcus, thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you today?

Marcus Yeung 0:53
I’m good, I’m good. I’m very good. Good to see you again, man,

Michael Waitze 0:55
it’s very nice to have you here. You know I was thinking this morning, literally as I was washing dishes, like, how long have we known each other? Do you know and do you even remember how we met? Because I was thinking, like, I feel like I’ve known this guy my whole life, but we didn’t go to summer camp together, like we didn’t go to college together.

Marcus Yeung 1:12
Well, we’re probably about the same age, so we’re close, but we’ve known each other a long time. Michael, I really can’t remember when we first met, but I remember we have a thing in common, which is that we both are close to Japan. Yeah, and you spent a lot of time in Japan. I think you worked there, and I also worked in Japan for a long, long time. And then I remember leaving Japan probably 1012, years ago, and then looking you up and meeting in Bangkok, and you were just starting getting your feet on the ground there, and look at you now. Look how well you’re doing. Now, isn’t it wonderful to see how things are going well on your side. So it actually is kind

Michael Waitze 1:45
of funny. We met in person, didn’t we? We did. We met

Marcus Yeung 1:48
in some coffee shop which was attached to a very fancy fitness club and health center, and you looked very relaxed and enjoying your new life, and always tried to do some

Michael Waitze 2:01
work. It was a long time ago. I think I’ve gone bald like four times in between that time and today. So hopefully, I think we’re both lucky, we still have our hair. So tell me more about you, right? You said you were in Japan, but give me a little bit more of your background, just for some context. Yeah. So

Marcus Yeung 2:14
I’ve been around for a long time. I mean, as I said, we’re quite similar. I’ve been in the industry for 30 years. So basically, I’m British, but I was born in America, managed to get rid of my American passport a few years ago, which I think I probably talked to you about some time. Yeah, last time we spoke, I’m British and but spend most of my career actually in Asia. Started off in in London as a junior banker with a very old, established British merchant bank called she Warburg. And then spent 10 years in banking in Asia and Japan, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and then eventually went to the buy side. Joined Singapore power, big corporate as a CFO of their international in charge of acquisitions. And then I joined the private equity fund. The Carlisle group set up their buyout fund in Japan, which you may remember back in the early 2000s Yeah, did that for a few years. It’s now the biggest fund in in Japan by a long way. And then I went full circle and became an entrepreneur, and then I became a failed entrepreneur, and then I eventually decided I need to make some money. And I came back to Singapore and set up Seabridge, which is investment banking boutique focusing on technology, but that’s been going very well. And you know, we’ve really had a lot of tailwinds behind us, and we’ve really carved out a nice little niche for us. And then eventually I managed to go again as an entrepreneur, to set up matchdale Asia with a co founder called Patrick. I want to

Michael Waitze 3:37
get to that in a second. I’m curious about a few things, though. What was it like working at Carlisle? I don’t know anybody else that’s done that, and it has, like, this very specific type of reputation. And I’m just curious what it was like there, and then to grow it into the biggest fund in Japan is pretty impressive, anyway, but go ahead, I’m really curious.

Marcus Yeung 3:54
Yeah, I had the best time ever in Carlisle. I remember being interviewed for Carlisle. I had to fly around the world to because they had three founders, and one at the time, was based in Washington, and the other happened to be in London, and the other one happened to be in, I think, Tokyo, and another was in Singapore. So I had to actually fly around the world to interview with the three founders. Well, at that time, Carl was unlisted entity. It was a very small firm of around 200 professionals. Now I believe it’s listed, of course, and it’s probably 1000s of investors, professionals, fantastic firm, very family type, really nice people, very American and really smart, very switched on, and they have fantastic connections. Can’t say enough about Carlisle. It was fantastic training. Yeah, I

Michael Waitze 4:37
remember when it started. I forget who the founders are, but I remember them coming out of government and just seeming like it was just this inevitable track to success for them, because they were just so well connected when they started this firm. Yeah, that’s

Marcus Yeung 4:49
right, very well connected. And they were very connected in politics, and they were very strong with the government and presidents, and were on their Rolodex Prime Ministers when I was there. Well, I met probably two presidents and three prime ministers. Wow. I think it was a million dollars per handshake, or maybe it was $5 million per handshake. The fundraising machine, every time the investors shook hands with a president, they would bring out, you know, it’s $5 million commitment, and you get to take a picture with President Bush or something like that.

Michael Waitze 5:18
Wow. That’s the part that I wanted to know. Like, it must have just been surreal at some point, right? Can I ask you this, too? I talk about this a lot, particularly as I get older, I feel like I was born like, at the exact right time and date, I really do, because I’m pretty sure that I’ve been born five years later, like I never would have had the career I had on Wall Street. And I put that in quotes, right? And if I’d been born five years earlier, I probably would have ended up being a lawyer, right? Just because all the internationalization stuff that we got to take advantage of, I thought happened just right at the right time, right? Like, I went and studied in Japan, I came back. The Japanese market was growing, apparently, and then I got expatriated there, and I’ve never been home since. And kind of like you, I’ve traveled all over the world, and you said you’re British, but you were born in America. Like, I feel like we were born at like, just the perfect time. What do you think?

Marcus Yeung 6:03
I agree? I think we’ve seen a lot of changes in the 30 years of work we’ve had. But even before then, just, you know, a guy like you, an American ending up in Thailand and in Japan for the longest time, I’ve read like myself, spending all of my time in Japan now in Singapore. Yeah, it’s quite amazing. I think the thing about our generation, just for your listeners, which is probably different from other generations before, it is that we were probably the first generation which had to change our careers in the middle of our span. My parents would work for the same company for forever. But you know, most of the people I know had to change their career. They were investment bankers to start off with, and then afterwards, because investment banking, you come in and you get spat out. Once you get senior enough, you’ve got to reinvent yourself, and that’s really hard. Some people can do it. Some people struggle. So I think we were the first guys to have to really reinvent ourselves. And secondly, we were probably the first generation who could really choose wherever we wanted to work in the world, whatever took our fancy. Yeah, we could pack up our bags and go there, and that’s such a privilege.

Michael Waitze 7:07
I don’t talk about this a lot, but I essentially automated myself out of a job. Yes, right. So I took all of this sort of FinTech stuff, I automated so many things at work that at some point it was just really easy to get rid of me, and that was in my mid to late 40s, and I knew it was coming, because I knew because I knew when I was doing it, that at some point the end of the road was going to be them going, thanks a lot. Bye. So I was kind of psychologically prepared for it, and I didn’t really care. But I remember sitting with my wife after I lost my last job, and just going, where should we live? And you’re right. It could have been anywhere. And I did look I looked at Taiwan, I looked at Vietnam, I looked at Singapore. It’s too expensive for me. I looked at Hong Kong. It was too expensive because I still to send my daughter to college, I mean, to high school. And we were just like, You know what? We’ve been going to Thailand for vacation for 10 years. The schools there are great. The medical care there is amazing. It’s really safe, and the weather’s ridiculous. Let’s go to Thailand. My daughter graduated from high school three or four years ago. I can’t remember anymore, and now she’s at university. But, like, I stayed because I love it here, and it’s such an amazing place to live. But you’re right, I could have gone anywhere. And I think that that’s new. That was definitely new for us, for sure. Yeah,

Marcus Yeung 8:17
yeah. And probably wherever you went, you would have been successful. You can choose many different countries. You know, you just put your roots down and you keep nose on the wall and keep grinding away, and you’ll eventually spread your roots and you’ll grow and blossom. So can I

Michael Waitze 8:30
ask you this, how long did it take for you to get Seabridge partners to a point where you felt like it was stable? Does that make sense?

Marcus Yeung 8:37
I don’t within so Seabridge partners, just for your listeners, is a investment banking boutique focusing on technology, and I think we’ve carved out a pretty good niche that we’re probably one of the better known technology focused boutiques. I would never say it’s stable. Part of the reason why we set up match dot Asia was because I wanted, as I get older, to have a more stable platform to work off. The reason why it’s not stable is because you are limited by the number of deals you can do, and you’re also subject to the movements of the market. And it’s really very much a feast or famine. One year we’ll have a fantastic year, close few deals. We’ll all be off in Phuket and enjoying ourselves on extended holidays the next year, you know, I’m worrying about, can I pay my skill fees? How can I make ends meet? How am I going to pay for my staff? It’s really hard, and I think that’s one of the problem with boutiques, and that’s one of the problem with m a day and fundraising, which is what I do. It’s really hard. It’s very manual, and therefore it’s not really scalable. And that’s became one of the reasons why I set up the other business matched in Asia, yeah.

Michael Waitze 9:39
So the reason why I asked rod is because it took me about 10 years, wow, yeah, to get to a point. What are we 2024 Yeah, pretty much took me about 10 years to get to a point where, like, I thought I had a business, yeah, yeah. And you’re right, when you’re running your own business, you never feel like it’s stable. You’re always just like, I’m having lobster and steak tonight and tomorrow night. Am I going to be able to eat kind of thing? It’s not that interesting. It sometimes feels like that. Anyway, talk to me about just this entrepreneurial spirit in you, right? You kind of said it half jokingly, like you were a failed entrepreneur before. And what is it like? What does it take to get you to come back into the market? I mean, we’re both in our 50s, right? I’m probably actually closer to 60, but like, what does it take for you to come back into the market and start all over again?

Marcus Yeung 10:21
Well, I think there’s a couple of questions. What’s it like setting up a startup in your 50s? And I’ll talk about that later. It’s really, really hard. But how did I get to where I am? I think it’s a long winded it’s a long story, and I like to look at it in a positive spin. I think it’s a little bit like evolving. You imagine that, you know, the monkey moving into the standing human being, and eventually being, you know, an investment banker and then an entrepreneur. I hope I’m evolving, but it’s been hard. I think the way I started off was basically as part of a cog in the wheel in an investment bank. And you get to learn your trade and you learn your skills, but you don’t really have any responsibility and you don’t really understand what you’re doing, yeah, and it’s a bit of a false environment you’re in. You’re making a lot of money, spending a lot of money, but you’re not really in control of your destiny. And eventually, when you get senior enough, you get, as you said, you get pushed out of the sausage machine, and you get pushed out at the end, and you have to figure out what you’re going to do, yeah, if you’re lucky, then there are other parts which you still have. And so I went into the buy side, which was a new experience, and that’s really exciting. And then, because there was so much capital coming into the market in the last 1020 years, you know, the obvious thing was go onto the buy side and try and manage some of that money. So I went and joined Carlisle, and we took advantage of the fact there was a lot of money looking for this places to put it. So we set a big fund, and we raised a lot of money, and we started putting that to work, and that was very interesting as well, but again, semi satisfying, because you’re working for other people at the end of the day, because 80% of the profits which you make goes to your LPs, 20% of it goes to you. And then you have to share that with all of your team. And then, of course, Carl will take a big portion of that. So it’s nice, and I think it’s a nice, steady, stable environment, but it’s not really controlling your own destiny. So what I did then was set up my own boutique in Japan, because I love Japan. I wanted to stay in Japan, which wasn’t a great move, because, of course, Japan, in those days, as you remember, Michael was, has been trading sideways, if not downwards, yeah. And so it’s difficult to actually make serious money in Japan, because the market is just moving against you. Yeah. And then I decided to take things in my own hands, and because I had a little capital behind me, I said, let’s go and do something really crazy. And I set up a business called concept Bank, which was really trying to bring big concepts back into Japan, which is a big market, did a few concepts there. Eventually set up a smoothie chain, believe it or not, food and beverage chain, I remember, and raised quite a lot of money and lost most of it, including a lot of my own money, my family’s money. And it was just very hard. Yeah, it’s hard, but a lot of good lessons learned. Yep, you know, I realized the folly of my ways, and what was I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. And I realized that if you want to really control your own destiny, you have to build a business around the core strength, which at that point in time was my own experience, and you had to also be in a market. So I had to leave Japan, because I didn’t believe as a foreigner in Japan, I could really, you know, make a big difference. And so I came to Singapore, which is growing, has been growing for the last 1015, years. Southeast Asia is growing. The tailwinds are all there. I also decided to move into tech, which obviously is growing as well. And then I also decided to take advantage of my own strengths, which is basically my investment banking expertise and my founder expertise as well. And that’s why I set up a boutique. And since then, it’s been moving in the right direction. And then it’s just a case of figuring out how you run your your business. And I think I’ve adopted a strategy of really trying to give and just trying to network as much as I can, but to give and hoping that once you plant enough seeds, then eventually karma will work its way, and eventually you’ll be rewarded. I

Michael Waitze 13:53
have to agree with you here, one of the things that I’ve learned by running my own business as well as I never asked for anything from anybody at first ever. Yep, I really don’t. I don’t ask them to sponsor this show. I don’t ask them to do anything. I just want to be on the show and have the listeners in like 173 countries learn about what you do. That’s it. And you’re right. I think stuff comes around.

Marcus Yeung 14:11
I think that is so on investment banking. I always joke with my team, because really try and adopt a personal philosophy of ours, which is all mine, which is integrity, humility and gratitude, yeah. And in investment banking, you were a trader, if I remember correctly, you don’t have gratitude, you’re not humble, and you have no integrity at all. And that’s why your life span, or your career span, is very short, and you burn out. I think there’s a better way of doing it. And I think if you give, you would eventually receive. And I really adopt that mantra and and I think that you should just give as much as you can, and eventually, obviously people will like working with you, and eventually generative will come your way, yeah, and hopefully everybody wins. I

Michael Waitze 14:53
used to say when I first started doing this business, that I had lost my soul when I was on Wall Street. And I really do believe that, and maybe that’s why I’ve. Feel like, in my head, like, if I don’t look in the mirror, I still think 25 to 30 years old, that’s the feeling, that’s the spirit I have inside me. And I feel like that’s because I got my soul back after I left, instead of just, like, running around for me personally, right? And chasing money. Now I’m just trying to, like, build a decent business anyway. I want to talk about this transformation into match dot Asia. Maybe you can talk about what that is, why you started it, and what it’s meant to do, and maybe how it dovetails with Seabridge, if it does at all, yeah, yeah.

Marcus Yeung 15:29
I think it’s a little bit like Seabridge 2.0 I think every industry as we know it has been disrupted, yes, will be disrupted. And I think investment banking is being disrupted as we speak. And I think it’s about time every part of investment banking, we used to be a trader. Now people don’t. It’s all automated. Now. Traders don’t exist anymore. Equity salesmen don’t exist anymore. Equity Research doesn’t exist anymore, which was the hottest part of the industry when you and I joined. So you know, I think investment bank is now being disrupted, and I think match dot Asia is one of the ways which investment banking will be disrupted. So match dot Asia sounds like a dating site. Actually, it is a bit of a dating site. It’s basically a corporate dating site. So it’s a marketplace for m1 day, so it’s the leading m1 day matching platform for sellers and buyers. We have hundreds of sellers on our platform, and we have hundreds of buyers on our platform. And the idea is that we are really trying to democratize m&a, so bringing MNA to SMEs, small medium enterprises in Southeast Asia, so that for the first time, they have the opportunity to really meet and get on the radar screen of a lot of bias. And before that, these SMEs really weren’t on the radar screen of any of these buyers, because the financial advisors, like my old firm, Seabridge, didn’t have the time or the energy to really spend time on these things. And having said that, you know, there were, I think the stat is 17 million SMEs in Southeast Asia. 17 million, wow. And probably only there are a lot of mom and pop shops in here. But I would say, let’s say there are a million decent sized companies out there. And so what we’re trying to do is take the top 100,000 and get them onto our platform so that investors, whether they’re financial investors, capital funds, late stage, capital funds, family offices, microbe funds, entrepreneurs who want to take over existing businesses, they have the opportunity to really find these companies and to partner with them and eventually take them over. And that’s really very for the whole ecosystm of SMEs in Southeast Asia. And that’s what, basically what we’re trying to do, and use tech to allow us to do it. Yeah, so

Michael Waitze 17:43
that’s what I wanted to follow up on. You mentioned earlier, right? That Seabridge and companies like Seabridge boutique investment banks have a hard time scaling, right? Because there’s just only a certain number of people and a certain number of deals you can work on every year. You could automate some of the back end processes, but it’s going to be hard to automate finding all the right deals and getting the right people. So how does match dot Asia like? What does the tech do? In a way, you say it’s like a dating sites. That’s cool. I have a business I want to sell. I put it on match dot Asia. I presume that that’s free, right? But what does the tech do to try to make sure that as a buyer, I can find the business I want to buy, and as a seller, I can find the guys and the gals that want to buy my business. How does that work?

Marcus Yeung 18:25
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think, just stepping back a little bit, and when they process, or the fundraising process, is similar, there are basically three different parts to the process. The first one is preparing the company for M and A or for selling. The second one is finding an investor or matching with an investor. And the third one, once you found the investor, then is actually closing the deal. A typical deal would take anything from six months, maybe to nine months, if you’re lucky, it might take out 12 months. And interesting enough, 70% of that time frame is actually in the preparation. And then the matching part. The matching is probably half of the whole one month for the preparation, five months for matching, and then two months for closing. And when

Michael Waitze 19:07
you talk about PrEP, I just want to understand this, you’re talking about, like, getting all the books and records in order, getting all your, like, documents in order. So when someone goes, where’s this thing? Where’s that thing, it doesn’t take months to find you’re just like, here’s the packet kind of thing. Yeah, yes.

Marcus Yeung 19:20
It’s basically cleaning up your house, making sure that everything is where it should be, fixing the holes in the walls, fixing the roof, but also getting your documentation right and then making sure that the story is correct. So in other words, figuring out who you are and who you want to sell to, making sure that your investment story is there in a good investment banker should be able to get that company ready within a month, and the story is there, the number supported, all of the documents are there, and then you should be able to go out to market and then try and match with the right investors. And that would take anything from two months, if you’re lucky, to four or five months, or even a year if the market’s against you. Fair enough. Now, interesting enough that preparation. Phase. And that matching phase is actually not really investment banking work. It’s more business development. Anybody can do it. Accountants can do it, lawyers can do it, business development, guys can do it. And so in Seabridge, we have an investment banking team, and we would spend 70% of our time on non investment banking work, and only 30% of our time on investment banking bread, and these investment bankers are very expensive, and so it wasn’t a very efficient use of our time. So what we wanted to do was really change the dynamics. Instead of being in Seabridge, I could work on 10 deals and hopefully close two or three of them, if I’m lucky, and then we’d make, you know, a couple of million bucks for a fees, and then I’m very happy, and I can go and spend six months of the year and but if we didn’t close any then I’d be eating in the food court in Singapore. And it’s really not quite like that, but it’s but it’s kind of binary, though. Yeah, it is binary. Now imagine if that you turned it on its head, and you basically had similar to property sites where you have, in the old days, you would go and put property on out in the shop, and then you’d have all of the listings on the phone. If you walk past, you’d actually see the pictures. And then you go in, you say, I want to go and look at that property. It’s so manual. That’s basically how m&a is done today. Yeah. So what we want to do is basically put it on a marketplace. And so the first part of the tech is really just to get a big marketplace and the same and the way dating is done now online, saying that property is done online, same way that shopping is done online, we have a marketplace, not that complicated blissing to do, but it’s very complicated to populate that marketplace. Now have hundreds of sellers and 100 buyers, and so far, we’ve got 200 sellers, and we’ve been at it three or four months. We’ve got 200 engaged sellers, which is really, really good. Wow. And then by the end of the year, we should have about 500 and by next year, we should have about 1000 sellers on our platform, and by that time, we should be really, really hitting our stride. So the first part is that the getting the marketplace up and running. The second part is driving traffic to the marketplace once you’ve got enough inventory, yeah, and then you’ve got all sorts of other things in way technology can change the way the process is done. When I was a junior banker, I spent a lot of time doing, you know, Company Research Reports and doing what they call teasers, and then doing the information memos, and then doing the financial models and then doing valuation. This is what interns and Associates now are training at the universities. This is what they do, and they’re very proud I can do a financial model, you know, in in a week. And I’m saying, that’s great. But did you know I could press a button now and actually do a financial model using open AI, in 15 seconds, their face kind of drops, and they go really and I said, Yes. And by the way, you’ll know that valuation work and the DCF work and all of that, you know, comparable multiples, which you did, yeah, I can now do that online, and I can just press a button, and I can do a beautiful report within 15 seconds, and they go off. And you know all of that, you know reports which you’ve done Company Research, and you know you sit in the meetings and writing the meeting notes. Now we’ve got again, AI meeting notes, which can all basically download the listen to what you’ve done and summarize it and then feed it into our CRM system. You don’t even have to attend the meeting anymore, and you don’t even actually have to write the teasers, because I can do that now. So it’s actually very interesting how technology is taking a lot of the grunt work out of investment banking, which allows the real investment bankers to focus on the important stuff, which is the negotiations and the closing of the deals. The more personal stuff are

Michael Waitze 23:24
you surprised by how much the artificial intelligence stuff can actually do for you? And like I can hear in your voice that you know exactly how to do this. You’ve taught yourself how to go through this whole process. You’re not just pulling things out of thin air and making it up. Yeah, I can tell you for myself, while you were talking about meeting notes and all this kind of stuff in my head. I was running through the processes that I do for each one of those things and just going, yeah, that works. I do the same thing, even for some of the summaries that I write for the podcast. I give it to otter to do the transcript. I take that transcript and then I turn it into a summary, which I prompt myself so I know what kind of summary I want. But when I can do that while having a couple having a cup of coffee, it’s really

Marcus Yeung 24:04
good, and all you have to do is edit it at the end. Yeah, instead of a whole day, right? It takes 15 minutes of your time to really edit and curate it.

Michael Waitze 24:12
Yeah, I never use it as is, right? And I don’t think you do either, but I do will edit. I look at and go, I wouldn’t write like that. I wouldn’t use that word. I’ll take that out. That’s way too demonstrative, or whatever, and I take it out, right? Because AI is, like, very excited about stuff. I don’t know why it’s so excited. I’m not that excited.

Marcus Yeung 24:27
I’m not surprised. And I think it’s about time I am surprised how. I mean, there’s two other ways which I do think is really exciting. One is, they have a lot of co pilot now, so the idea of being able to conduct due diligence with the co pilot. In other words, typing into, it’s like a Google search engine and say, you know, give me the latest three months, three years. Or actually, you can even just type in, say, give me a financial report on this company, and it will do all of the analysis for you and check all the dues. And just focus on do some due diligence on the legal. Aspects of this company, and dig around, give me a due diligence report. I don’t think you can do that now, but I wouldn’t be surprised, within the next year, you will have very good results coming out of that, because it’s all about the data. At the moment, the data doesn’t exist, but once you get the data, then the technology can really make it very powerful. And then the matching is also another thing you know, what we can do now is based upon the data we have on buyers and on sellers. We don’t even have to think about it ourselves. Once a new buyer comes on board, or a new seller comes on board, we will automatically generate five or six leads based upon what of bias, based upon what we know about each of these, and we don’t even have to look at it. It’s all automatically done. So in the old

Michael Waitze 25:44
days, you would have to, like, look at a new company. Somebody would come to you and say, I want to sell my, you know, paperclip company. And be like, Who do I know that has that wants to buy a paperclip company? And have to, like, go through a whole bunch of files and folders to try to find it, or even just, like, search for this. But now you just put it up on the platform and just go do your thing. And he comes up with like five people that have already noted that they want to buy paperclip companies. That’s the way that works. Yeah, absolutely,

Marcus Yeung 26:07
absolutely. The trick is really that we the paperclip company. There’s not a lot of data on that paperclip company, and therefore we need to what our value add. Is really calling all of the paperclip companies in Southeast Asia, getting the data which we need to accumulate so that they will be found by investors. And that’s something which is manual, and you can’t automate that. And that’s something which we’ve taken on to ourselves really just going out and calling and calling and just getting the data make it easy for them, and selling to them and saying, basically, if you can give us your data, we can introduce you to lots of buyers, and they like to do it.

Michael Waitze 26:44
Yeah, I want to make a point about the artificial intelligence. If you don’t mind, this is just my opinion. I’m curious what yours is, too. I’m not afraid of it. And what I mean by that is it allows me to do the things, the parts of my job I don’t really have a job. You know what I mean, the stuff that I do in my business that I really love. And you’re right, it takes away the drudgery, because I let just the machine do the drudgery, and I get to do this thing and talk to you, and when I’m done, I’m let the machine like do all the other things that I don’t want to do. Is that true as well for you? I

Marcus Yeung 27:11
think it is true, but I think you and I are one of the top 20% who actually can really not feel too challenged by what AI is doing. I think 80% of the world will be disrupted in terms of the value which they’re adding in their jobs will be disrupted and will not be in a position to really take control of the AI and the advance. So I think we’re loving in that respect. And I think the younger generation today, I think it has a very tough job, because they need to stay ahead of the curve. Yeah, all the time, because it’s just staying ahead of the curve is just so hard because technology is changing everything so quickly. So good luck to them.

Michael Waitze 27:53
You mentioned earlier that for sea bridge, and you kind of half joking, but if you could work on 10 deals a year and close two of them, two or three of them, right? That’s a really good year. How do you see match start Asia changing those numbers, what can you work on? 100 deals a year now?

Marcus Yeung 28:09
Yeah, so the numbers would be something like when we hit critical size, which would be in the next year. I would imagine we should have 1000 deals on our platform, $1,000 on our platform who want to sell, and we should be able to close probably 50 of those deals a year. And our team is not going to be much bigger than it was at Seabridge, so it’s just a much, much smarter way of scaling, using a marketplace model and technology to really allow us to reach out to many, many more sellers and many more buyers. And the secret, I think, is that in the old days in investment banking, you’re trying to sell all the time. You’re trying to basically, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. You’re trying to sell it to a buyer, and the buyer doesn’t want to buy it. And half the time you’re wasting your time because you’re trying to sell a circle and push it into a square, and it just doesn’t work. And I think match dot Asia changes that, because we allow the seller and buyer to match themselves, and we don’t have to try and match them. They can match themselves, and that saves their time and effort, and they don’t have to listen to boring bankers like us who are trying to sell them things which they aren’t interested in, because they can actually go and find out what they want. And I think that’s something which is quite disruptive in terms of what we’re doing. So

Michael Waitze 29:25
have you raised money for this? Right? Because you mentioned that it’s almost like, not a, you said a dating site, but that’s kind of you’re joking around, but it’s almost like a house listing or a real estate site, right? There wasn’t a marketplace before now there is, I presume, you do a lot of due diligence and vetting before you allow someone to be on the platform, right? So unlike real estates, where, like, the more listings you have, the better, in a way, for you, it’s like, not the fewer listings, but you want to curate the number of listings so that everything there is actually valid and real. Let’s just put that aside. But if that’s the case, have you raised money? Is this a business where you think you can actually go out and raise venture capital money because you. Yeah, the one thing that I think that the marketplaces, the real estate marketplaces, got wrong, was they were never involved in the transaction. I never understood why, right? So what you’re doing is you’re saying, come on and we’ll help you close that transaction. Because that’s actually one of the hardest parts, is actually getting it to close. Is that a fundable business? You think? Because if every house trades for like, let’s say an average of $500,000 every business that trades is probably going to sell for somewhere between seven and ten million I’m just making up numbers, right? But it’s way higher than 500 grand. So that means you can do fewer deals and make way more money, right? And you’re involved in the transaction. So how does that look for you from a funding perspective?

Marcus Yeung 30:38
Yeah, you’ve knocked it on the head. I mean, it’s incredibly lucrative business model because of the numbers. So I think when any investor looks at it and they, if they believe what we’re saying, they will say, Wow, this is incredible. And there are some, there is a good company in Japan which is a good president called m&a Research Institute, which is a listed and with a it’s a listed company. It’s a similar business, and we’re following basically the same path as they have. And they closed 150 deals last year, wow. And they made $60 million of revenue. And it’s a very profitable business model. They’re at about 55% EBITDA. So they made about $35 million in profit. And believe it or not, their market cap is $2 billion that’s

Michael Waitze 31:20
a lot of time in Phuket, by the way. Sorry, go ahead.

Marcus Yeung 31:23
Yeah, it’s something unheard of for boutiques, and selling your boutique for $2 billion just doesn’t happen. So that’s one of the reasons why to want another question of yours, you know? Why, in my 50s I’ve decided to go and start up a business? Yeah, I just couldn’t resist it. Yeah, I’ve seen so many startups, and I’ve helped fund so many startups that all of the boxes were ticked in this. And I said, Well, look, I’m going to do it myself, because this is just something I cannot resist, and it’s been hard work, but, you know, it’s been a lot of fun. Going back to your other question in terms of, are we raising capital? We don’t need a lot of money to do this, to be honest. So I’ve basically been funding with my partner, Patrick. Good for you, but a lot of strategic investors have shown interested in us. Big financial strategic investors have shown interested in us because we are opening up a market which they would love to have. So south to East Asian, M and A with SMEs is something which the Japanese, the Koreans, the Chinese, the a lot of the big strategic investors are looking to build businesses through acquiring other businesses in the region. And so we are speaking to some very big players who would like to invest in us. And also we are speaking to some of the other marketplaces around the region who are also saying, look, we’ve got a marketplace in Japan, but they want to come into Southeast Asia. So, you know, why don’t we come and join forces? So we are open to partnership discussions. If anybody wants to partner with us, we are absolutely on for it. We very much believe in a win, win situation for everybody. We believe that everybody can win through our platform, whether you’re a seller, a buyer, an intermediary, or even an investor. You know, we think there’s so much value which we can create. We’re happy to partner with anybody.

Michael Waitze 33:03
Super. Marcus Yeung a c-Founder and Managing Partner, Match.Asia, and the Founder of SEAbridge partners. Thank you so much for doing that. And let’s do this as well. You said, like, in six months or nine months, you’re going to have like, 500 maybe even 1000 sellers or buyers on the platform. I’d love for you to come back and talk to me about some of the things that have happened, you know, six, nine months out, so that we can actually see, like a real transaction happen, and see what it feels like, and see if all the things you thought were gonna happen, what you learned along the way, oh, we forgot to build that little piece kind of thing. But I know you will build it. But like the little things you learn as something kind of goes through the system, I’d love to do that too. Thank you so much again for doing this.

Marcus Yeung 33:41
Not all. Thanks so much for the time. Thank you.

 

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