John Lim moved from working in a multimillion dollar venture capital fund to becoming a marriage broker facilitating link-ups between start ups and corporates.
What’s your story?
Meet Ventures (meetvcs.com) serves as a bridge between corporates and startups.
I started my career in a US$200M venture capital fund where I worked with startup founders from pre-seed to Series A. Most of these startups were looking for one of two things: Sales or Funding. The latter we provided, but the former is something that decided the ultimate fate of these startups.
Later I went on to work as an Innovation Consultant at one of the Big 4 consultancy firms. The clients were mainly government agencies or multinational companies. Most of these clients were looking to achieve their innovation objectives by one of two ways: Find External Partners or Build Internal Capabilities. The latter was a tedious process that could take years, but the former was more easily achievable.
That was when I identified a win-win outcome for both parties in the form of Startup-Corporate partnerships. Startups need to find clients and close sales in order to survive, corporations can pay them. Corporates need to test and adopt new technologies in order to innovate, startups can help them. Match both startups and corporates together and we will get the ideal outcome.
In theory, the above matching seems simple enough. In practice, the process requires a deep understanding of both parties’ inner workings and objectives before proceeding with a series of discussions to ensure that all parties are aligned. That is where Meet Ventures (meetvcs.com) comes into the picture to help smooth the process and ensure ultimate success.
Our clients include government agencies and corporates from countries such as Japan, Korea and China. They trust us because of our subject matter expertise, local knowledge and sensitivity towards cultural variants.
What excites you most about your industry?
Helping the startup founders to achieve their dreams. Helping the corporate clients to meet their objectives.
It’s also an honour to have the opportunity to work directly with the C-level executives from both startups and corporates. As iron sharpens iron, their logic and strategic thinking helps me to hone my own analytical skills.
What is your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. My company has offices in Singapore (headquarters), the Philippines and Indonesia. My clients typically come from Japan, Korea and China.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for 3 main reasons:
1. Singapore is a city with 37400 international companies. This includes 7000 multinational corporations with more than half of them running their APAC businesses from the city state. The high density of international companies makes it easy to find suppliers and access the key decision makers of potential clients.
2. Singapore is only a 2 hour flight from other major cities in South-East Asia and within 6 hours to most other cities across Asia. It also has the best airport and port in Asia. This makes it easily accessible as a regional hub.
3. Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural society. People are used to interacting with others from a different race or religion or nationality. It’s easy to feel at home here and you won’t feel out of place.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do everything with excellence. This means going into the details and ensuring that you try your best to exceed expectations every time.
Let me give you an example. In China (and Singapore where I live), there is a famous hotpot restaurant chain called Haidilao which is also a multibillion dollar business. How did they beat the thousands of hotpot competitors? They did it through the small, relevant actions: serving you drinks and popcorn while awaiting your turn, ladies can even get a free manicure if the wait is too long, offering you warm towels before the meal, giving you an apron to prevent accidental spills on your clothes, refilling your soup and helping you to cook without you asking etc. All these small actions can be summed up as the “spirit of excellence”.
At Meet Ventures (meetvcs.com), we also strive to live out this “spirit of excellence” by giving more in terms of both quantity and quality. For example, if we promise our client a list of 100 names we will try to give a list of at least 110 names and websites. This little extra effort puts a smile on our clients’ faces, and reassures them that we are doing our best for them.
Who inspires you?
My mum. She loved me unconditionally. And in doing so, she taught me how to love. In my personal opinion, success boils down to love. The qualities needed for success include integrity, trust, excellence and more.
Integrity: If you act in love, you will put your customers’ interest before your own interest.
Trust: If you treat your employees with love, they will feel it and reciprocate by doing their best for the company.
Excellence: If you do things with love, you will naturally do more than what is expected and perform better than expected.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
According to the World Economic Forum, Asia is expected to contribute roughly 60% of global growth by 2030. APAC is also expected to be responsible for the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy. This provides tremendous opportunities for both corporates and startups in the region and the time to start taking action is now.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started a business or businesses while I was still in high-school. That would have given me a 10 year head start in terms of practical business skills as compared with my peers.
I would probably also have picked up Bahasa Indonesia as a third language. Indonesia is currently the 10th largest economy and is expected to become the 4th largest economy within the next decade. Currently, I’m fluent in both English and Chinese Mandarin.
How do you unwind?
I enjoy taking strolls in the park or cycling by the beach with my loved ones. Before Covid-19 and the travel restrictions, I also enjoyed road trips and short getaways to neighbouring countries.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan for 3 splendid reasons:
1. The food is amazing. Think about bubble tea, deep fried chicken cutlet, vermicelli in thick broth, sweet candied fruits and more.
2. The scenery in the countryside is breathtaking. Think about vast stretches of beaches overlooking the pacific ocean, slightly misty mountains with cool weather and sheep roaming around you, long road trips with green farmland beside you.
3. The people are welcoming. Ask for a helping hand and you get both hands outstretched to help you.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Strengths based selling” by Gallup. Sales is an essential skill in business but there are many different ways to sell. What works for one might not work for the other. This book teaches us how to sell better by leveraging on our strengths.
Shameless plug for your business:
Meet Ventures (meetvcs.com) specialises in corporate-startup partnerships. We have done it for various government agencies and multinational corporations. Feel free to connect with us and we would be happy to share more with you.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects‘ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.