XanPool, a cross-border payments infrastructure provider, aims to expand outside of the Asia-Pacific region amid growing global demand for both crypto and fiat currency settlements. The Hong Kong-based company—which has raised $32 million since inception in March 2019—plans to enter markets such as Europe and South America. “I see a lot of opportunity to scale up quickly,” says Jeffery Liu, founder and CEO of XanPool.
At age 28, Liu is among this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia honorees in the Finance & Venture Capital category who are using technology to disrupt the conservative world of finance.
XanPool expects its user base (comprising of consumers and businesses opting to use alternative modes of paying for cross-border transactions) to reach 10 million by end-2022 from 500,000 currently. With XanPool’s gross merchandise value seen doubling to as much as $8 billion this year, the company (backed by investors including private equity firms Antler and Valar Ventures) aims to boost its headcount to almost 200 employees by end-2022 from about 90 currently. Most of the new hires will be software engineers and product developers to be based at the research and development hub the company plans to build in Southeast Asia, Liu says.
VCs on the rise
Besides fintech founders, 15 investors made this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia, including Sequoia Capital‘s Augustus Ilag in Singapore. A Stanford grad and a former McKinsey consultant, Ilag has been driving Sequoia Capital’s expansion into new sectors and geographies in India and Southeast Asia. He has led or co-led 21 investments, including breakouts such as Filipino digital bank Tonik, international hiring platform Multiplier, and customer service software provider WATI. He also spearheads Sequoia’s investments in blockchain startups, driving eight of 13 such deals publicly announced in Southeast Asia.
Shaun Hon is also based in the city-state, one of Asia’s most vibrant startup hubs. In 2021, Hon cofounded Motion Ventures, a $23 million venture capital fund investing in startups disrupting the maritime industry. Backed by shipping companies such as Mitsui OSK Lines, Wilhelmsen, and HHLA as well as Enterprise Singapore’s SEEDS Capital, the fund aims to introduce cutting-edge technologies to aid decarbonization, supply chain resilience and safety in the industry. Motion Ventures is supported by startup incubator Rainmaking, with a combined portfolio value of more than $2 billion where Hon has been a director since 2020.
In Indonesia, Pitra Harun is cofounder and country head of Singapore-headquartered Asia Partners, which manages a $384 million fund that invests in growth-stage companies. Harun was directly involved in Asia Partners’ $100 million Series B funding in Indonesian B2B e-commerce firm GudangAda in July 2021. He was also involved in investments in budget hotel chain RedDoorz, car e-commerce platform Carsome, and online tutoring platform SnapAsk. An economics graduate from Claremont McKenna College, Harun previously worked as a consultant at Bain and as digital products head at Indonesian e-commerce firm Bukalapak.
Melvin Hade of Global Founders Capital, which has backed the likes of Canva, Lazada and Traveloka, is also based in Indonesia. In 2021, Hade was appointed Global Founders Capital’s partner for the Asia-Pacific at age 26, making him one of the youngest VC partners in the region. Active in GFC’s investments in early-stage companies such agritech startup Eden Farm and quick commerce firm Astro, Hade also sits on the board of some portfolio companies. Prior to joining GFC, he advised senior management in Southeast Asia as a management consultant at McKinsey.
Retno Dewati in Indonesia is one of the five female investors on the list. She heads investments in Singapore and Indonesia at Hong Kong-based VC firm Access Ventures. She has closed six new deals and three follow-ons, such as in Sampingan and the AI-driven credit scoring Credolabs. Becoming a venture capitalist at age 21, Dewati interned at Pegasus Tech Ventures in 2015 before being promoted as Southeast Asia regional manager. There, she was involved in many startup investments, including in Moka POS, which was acquired by Gojek for $130 million.
Over in China, Song Sisi is a Beijing-based vice president at Silicon Valley investment firm Bessemer Venture Partners, which manages more than $9 billion of assets. The firm has invested in more than 200 companies, including LinkedIn, Shopify and Yelp. In 2020, Song became the company’s first hire in China, and she now oversees investment in the country. Song’s portfolio includes U.S.-listed IoT firm Tuya, Hong Kong-listed SaaS software developer Youzan and data analytics platform Sensor Data. Before Bessemer, she worked for four years on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s investment team, where she focused on opportunities in cloud and infrastructure sectors abroad.
This year’s list also features two investors in South Korea: Hashed‘s Park Hyeon-jun and KB Investment‘s Minjae Song.
A Wharton graduate, Park is an investor focused on gaming at Hashed, a blockchain-focused venture capital firm based in Seoul and Silicon Valley. The firm’s backers include South Korean internet giants Kakao and Naver, and its portfolio companies include Vietnamese game maker Sky Mavis and India-based game streaming platform Loco. Before joining Hashed last year, Park was a venture capital investor at Hanwha, one of South Korea’s largest chaebols.
And Song is an investment manager at KB Investment, the venture arm of KB Financial Group, South Korea’s largest bank by market capitalization. She has worked on 17 deals at KB Investment since joining in 2020. Of these, nine deals were self-sourced and include robot marketplace Bigwave Robotics, edtech startup Mathpresso (whose cofounders made the 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2020) and virtual world developer NdotLight (backed by Korean internet giants Kakao and Naver).
In New Zealand, Lauren Fong is an investment principal at Icehouse Ventures, an Auckland-based VC firm. There she manages ArcAngels, a network of angel investors that invests in women-led startups in New Zealand. She’s currently helping to raise money for its second fund, targeting $20 million to invest in 50 companies over four years. Fong is also a DJ and electronic music producer and has played at music festivals both at home and overseas.
In neighboring Australia, Alexander Khor and Adrian Petersen are cofounders and partners at AfterWork Ventures—a community-powered VC fund investing in pre-seed and seed stage startups in Australia and New Zealand. Some of its managers come from the region’s biggest tech companies, including Canva, Airwallex, Atlassian, and Binance. AfterWork has made more than 40 early-stage investments, including D2C pet wellness brand Lyka and at-home resistance trainer Vitruvian. In 2021, the firm targeted raising a $30 million fund; as of September, it had raised half of that and made four investments.
Additional Reporting by Jonathan Burgos.
To learn more about these young innovators and investors, read our complete Finance & Venture Capital list here – and be sure to check out our full Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia coverage here.