Oliver Rippel, co-founder and partner of Asia Partners, believes South-east Asia could yield between 20 and 30 tech unicorns and he believes there are only certain sectors that can have global network effects, the rest, which includes online travel, is where local heroes can win over global players.
He should know, he was part of the eBay China team that failed. Yeoh Siew Hoon catches up with this tech investor who successfully led Naspers’ exit out of Flipkart when it was sold to Walmart and who’s no stranger to online travel – he was on the founding team of the Ibibo Group, with Goibibo acquired by MakeMyTrip, and his new fund recently led the $70m round into “affordable accommodation provider” RedDoorz.
Oliver Rippel (above): “South-east Asia is on the cusp. Everything is lining up, upstream ecosystem of VCs, initial role models of scaled up unicorns, recycling of talent from first gen unicorns starting new businesses – it’s super exciting and I want to be part of it, I don’t want to miss it this time.”
Q: How long have you been involved in the tech space?
I personally have been in tech for two decades.
Q: Can’t be – you look way too young.
It’s my half-Asian side (Rippel is German-Korean), it keeps me looking younger than I really am. I spent a decade with eBay in Germany, China and South-east Asia. Then I joined Naspers for over a decade. My passion comes from not only tech but also emerging markets and the inspiration from working with founders.
Q: Why Asia Partners?
It’s a continuation of what we have been doing but exclusively focused on South-east Asia. We want to help tech and tech-enabled companies at the growth equity stage – companies that have product market fit already and about to scale across the region. RedDoorz fits that to a T. Headquartered in Singapore, successfully expanding to emerging markets – it’s a playbook being adopted by more upcoming companies. You had the first generation of unicorn companies like Grab, and now you have the next gen of fast growing companies like RedDoorz.
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