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Meet Singapore-based Venture Capitalist Ozi Amanat Who Wants to Invest in Deep Tech Startups

Having invested in more than 15 companies, Ozi Amanat’s K2 VC is one of Singapore’s largest firms which was recently backed by the Singapore Government to invest upto $100 million fund in promising businesses in the region.

As venture capitalist, Ozi Amanat has supported several billionaires across Asia and Silicon Valley, and has been known for his early investments in Facebook, Uber, PayTM, Twitter, AirBNB, Spotify, among others. Having invested in more than 15 companies, Ozi Amanat’s K2 VC is one of Singapore’s largest firms which was recently backed by the Singapore Government to invest upto $100 million fund in promising businesses in the region. After his investment in Paytm, he seems to have a larger appetite for other players in the Indian ecosystem. We speak to him on more:

How do you evaluate a business plan? What is the most critical element you look for?

I take into account the kind of passion that the founders bring on the table. That really is a big factor of how the product/company will do because eventually you need the conviction more than anything else. Apart from that, there is also the element of market breath along with the kind of problems a certain company is solving.

Are you interested in other investment areas apart from technology?

I personally feel more connected to the B2C space because I like it when products and services can touch consumers directly.

How do you survive stiff competition among VCs?

It’s a highly collaborative environment. To be very honest, venture capital is about relationships and luck and you need a bit of both on your side at all times. That being said, the environment is very collaborative and we exchange ideas not as competitors but as enablers and drivers in the space.

Has there been any change in the nature of deals in the sector that you invest?

Lately, there has been a great convergence in the ride-hailing business. While my investment in Uber was in a very early stage, I see this sector becoming big and merging to provide end-to-end services to consumers. I am exploring the deep tech and innovation in the space going forward.

According to you which market is flourishing globally and why?

We all know that Asia is becoming the fastest rising power compared to the last decade or so. In my capacity, I think Asia, India, China and South East Asia are growing leaps and bounds due to growth in the population and standards of living. Today, an increased amount of disposable income among people certainly reflects the business norms in the region too.

What have you planned for the Indian ecosystem?

I am very bullish about India’s growth and the coming times will be very interesting. I am currently evaluating a series of companies that will see international investors in the coming year.

How is India’s venture capital market developing?

The Indian market is quite complex to navigate but there is certain growth in there. There has been a trend of compression in VCs but the good ones are built to last.

Looking ahead, what are the next magnets for investment?

I can see Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Deep Technology, FoodTech and HealthTech growing really big in the coming year or so.

With a mission to connect Asia and Silicon Valley, your latest $250M fund is focused on early to growth global equity. Your views?

I have only scratched the surface of possibilities in Asia as well as the Silicon Valley. I foresee a stronger link between the Silicon Valley and the Asian business and start-up ecosystem, thanks to the growingly smaller world and the innovation in the glocal community.

The overall venture capital scene in Asia remains hot, particularly for firms investing in technologies like AI. But it hasn’t been a smooth sailing for the other sectors. Do you agree?

While I agree that there has been a certain gap in the funding in the Asian market, but at K2 Global, we are pushing and striving on a daily basis to help fill this gap and create a strong and symbiotic business ecosystem. I started K2 back in 2015 and in this period itself, there has been a considerable shift towards more and more tech-driven ideas, and that’s a good thing considering the tech acumen and innovation present in the Asian region.

In terms of start-ups, which sector will rise in investment?

I think we can expect a large amount of funds flowing in for sectors like FoodTech, Health Tech, AI and Deep Tech. They are likely to be the biggest sectors in the coming years.

Is VC market becoming hyper-local?

I do not think that should ever happen in the longer run. In the short run, maybe it might seem to be ok but eventually there is a strong need to global convergence of ideas and people. For instance, the effects of having a global convergence of tech companies can be seen through Facebook and Netflix. Neither of them (as of yet) face massive stiff competition and that’s because of their investors staying global.

You have been recently backed by the Singapore Government to invest up to $100 million fund in promising businesses in the region. Are you looking at investing in any specific sector?

The focus for this currently would be around start-ups in Singapore. I think Deep tech companies with a base in Singapore will be a key driver for my early stage investments.


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