XanPool, a cross-border payment infrastructure provider, aims to expand outside of the Asia-Pacific region amid growing global demand for crypto and fiat currency settlements. The Hong Kong-based company, which has raised $32 million since its inception in March 2019, plans to enter markets including Europe and South America. “I see a lot of opportunities to grow quickly,” says Jeffrey Liufounder and CEO of XanPool.
At 28, Liu is among this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia winners in the Finance & Venture Capital Category who use technology to disrupt the conservative world of finance.
XanPool expects its user base (composed of consumers and businesses choosing to use alternative payment methods for cross-border transactions) to reach 10 million by the end of 2022, up from 500,000 currently. With XanPool’s gross merchandise value expected to double to $8 billion this year, the company (backed by investors including private equity firms Antler and Valar Ventures) aims to grow its workforce to nearly 200 employees. by the end of 2022, compared to approximately 90 currently. Most of the new hires will be software engineers and product developers who will be based at the research and development center the company plans to build in Southeast Asia, Liu said.
VCs on the rise
Along with fintech founders, 15 investors made it into this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia, including Capital Sequoiait is August Ilag in Singapore. A Stanford graduate and former McKinsey consultant, Ilag led Sequoia Capital’s expansion into new industries and geographies in India and Southeast Asia. He has led or co-led 21 investments, including breakthroughs such as Philippine digital bank Tonik, international recruitment platform Multiplier and customer service software provider WATI. He also leads Sequoia’s investments in blockchain startups, driving eight of 13 publicly announced such deals in Southeast Asia.
Shaun Hon is also based in the city-state, one of Asia’s fastest growing startup hubs. In 2021, Hon co-founded Movement companies, a $23 million venture fund that invests 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 drive decarbonization, supply chain resilience and security in the ‘industry. Motion Ventures is backed by startup incubator Rainmaking, with a combined portfolio value of over $2 billion, of which Hon has served as a director since 2020.
In Indonesia, Pitra Harun is co-founder and country director of the Singapore-based company Asia Partners, which manages a $384 million fund that invests in growth-stage companies. Harun was directly involved in Asia Partners’ $100m Series B financing of Indonesian B2B e-commerce company GudangAda in July 2021. He has also been involved in investments in budget hotel chain RedDoorz, automotive 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 a digital product manager at Indonesian e-commerce company Bukalapak.
Melvin Hade of Global Founders Capital, which has backed Canva, Lazada and Traveloka, is also based in Indonesia. In 2021, Hade was named a Global Founders Capital Partner for Asia-Pacific at age 26, making him one of the youngest venture capital partners in the region. Active in GFC’s investments in start-ups such as agritech startup Eden Farm and fast-trading company Astro, Hade also sits on the board of select 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 five female investors on the list. She leads investments in Singapore and Indonesia in a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Access to companies. It closed six new deals and three follow-on deals, such as at Sampingan and Credolabs, an AI-based credit rating. A 21-year-old venture capitalist, Dewati interned at Pegasus Tech Ventures in 2015 before being promoted to regional director for Southeast Asia. There she was involved in numerous early-stage investments, including Moka POS, which was acquired by Gojek for $130 million.
There in China, Song Sisi is a Beijing-based vice president of Silicon Valley investment firm Bessemer Venture Partners, which manages more than $9 billion in assets. The company has invested in more than 200 companies, including LinkedIn, Shopify and Yelp. In 2020, Song became the company’s first hire in China and now oversees investments in the country. Song’s portfolio includes US-listed IoT company Tuya, Hong Kong-listed SaaS software developer Youzan and data analytics platform Sensor Data. Prior to Bessemer, she worked for four years in the investment team of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, where she focused on opportunities in the cloud and overseas infrastructure sectors.
This year’s list also includes two investors in South Korea: Choppedit is Park Hyeon Jun and KB Investmentit is Minjae Song.
A Wharton graduate, Park is a games investor at Hashed, a blockchain-focused venture capital firm based in Seoul and Silicon Valley. The company’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 capitalist at Hanwha, one of South Korea’s biggest chaebols.
And Song is chief investment officer at KB Investment, the venture capital 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 those, nine deals were self-sourced and include robot marketplace Bigwave Robotics, edtech startup Mathpresso (whose co-founders made the 30 under 30 in Asia in 2020) and virtual world developer NdotLight (backed by Korean internet giants Kakao and Naver).
In New Zealand, Lauren Fong is an investment manager at Icehouse Ventures, an Auckland-based venture capital firm. There, she manages ArcAngels, an angel investor network that invests in startups led by women in New Zealand. She is currently helping raise funds for her second fund, targeting $20 million to invest in 50 companies over four years. Fong is also an electronic music DJ and producer and has performed at music festivals domestically and abroad.
In neighboring Australia, Alexander Khor and Adrian Petersen are co-founders and partners of After-work companies– a community-powered venture capital fund that invests in pre-seed and early-stage startups in Australia and New Zealand. Some of its leaders 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 company aimed to raise a fund of $30 million; by September, he had raised half and made four investments.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Burgos.
To learn more about these young innovators and investors, read our full Finance & Venture Capital list here – and be sure to check out our full coverage of Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia here.