We are privileged to interview Kuan Hsu, co-founder and partner at KK Fund, one of our venture partners. We thank KK Fund for helping TZ Ventures with introducing projects that build on Tezos, connecting us with VCs, organising the demo day, etc.
Q1. Can you introduce KK Fund and yourself briefly?
A: KK Fund is a venture capital fund investing in seed stage internet and mobile startups across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I am the co-founder of the fund, having worked in management consulting and investment banking in the US, private equity in Southeast Asia, and electronics manufacturing in China and Silicon Valley.
Q2. When do you think the coronavirus will die down and people start having meetings again and how has this affected your business?
A: Praying for this to be over soon, and I am glad to see countries stepping up measures to mitigate the situation. There will be a mix of short- and long-term impacts on how people work and go about their daily lives. For example, remote working may become more acceptable globally. In terms of the impact on Venture Capital and startups, I do not see that the coronavirus situation will have much of a meaningful impact, at least for the fundamentally strong and financially healthy startups.
Q3. How do you think the virus will affect the global economy?
A: The coronavirus situation has indeed shifted the supply / demand curves of many industries, some temporarily and others more permanently. What remains to be seen is if the governments will continue to reaffirm the confidence of their citizens as the situation develops.
Q4. What advise do you have for startups to cope with the coronavirus situation?
A: First and foremost is managing cashflow – this is one of the most fundamental elements that all startups (or SMEs for that matter) should be focusing on from day one, however, this message was lost during the era of easy fund-raising. Controlling expenses and making sure that the company is lean and nimble enough to navigate through unknown waters ahead should once again be the top focus on founders and management teams. In addition, one should also take care of your people in times of crisis.
If the startup is planning to fund-raise or is in the middle of fundraising, do expect investors to be more cautious during this time and hence expect delays in decision making. Startups should continue to maintain the warmth of the conversations by providing summarized updates on business, how the startup is preparing for long haul uncertainty, as well as provide updates and developments in the industry.
Most critically, this would be as good a time as any to re-examine the product-market fit. Are the startup’s products/services a “nice to have” or a “must have”? Is the pain point and problem big enough to withstand unforeseen shocks to demand? Having clarity to these questions will make it much easier to convince customers and investors.
Q5. Are you up to anything new nowadays?
A: Taking the opportunity to be a student of history and reading up on not just the history of pandemics and their socio-economic impact but also on the history of financial crisis. One such online course is titled “Introduction to The Global Financial Crisis” taught by Professor Metrick at Yale with guest lecturer Timothy Geithner – highly recommended.
Q6. What industries are you interested in nowadays?
A: I am keen in looking at permanently shifted supply demand curves in education, healthcare, and home entertainment. There have been many attempts in the past to shift activities online in these segments, and I do see that this trend has been accelerated.
Q7. What is the most crucial thing you look for when you decide to invest in a project?
A: Founders, Founders, and Founders. Truth is, in early stage startups, most things including business model and strategy can be molded or even completely rewritten, so it is entirely dependent on the right founders to adapt to changing market demands.
Q8. Any suggestions for TZ Ventures?
A: Conduct online events to gather like-minded great people together online, no matter where they are physically.
Q9. Is there any special guest/speaker you would like to see at the demo day?
A: I would like to get a cross section of Tezos ecosystem across geographies.
Anything else you would like to say?
Stay lean and nimble!
KK Fund Website: http://kkfund.co/
KK Fund LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/kk-fund/
Kuan Hsu Twitter: https://twitter.com/kuanhsu