CONNECT WITH: MOHAN BELANI
Hi Mohan, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello! I've been passionate about tech from a young age. I have been working with startups for the past 13 years in various ways (investing, supporting, advising etc.) and enjoy working with early stage Founders. I feel that Startups are the best vehicles for innovation and growth in the region and am interested in working with and supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
What are some of the more exciting start ups you’ve seen/invested in the last year?
I like companies that are disrupting sectors that haven't evolved or had a lot of technology infusion for many years, due to incumbent thinking or lack of need for innovation. These sectors include healthcare, logistics, insurance etc. I believe SEA is ripe with companies innovating in these sectors. I also believe that organizations are increasingly going to have to support and manage their people's mental health. It has become even more apparent due to the Work From Home challenges. That is why my most recent investment is in a company called MindFi, which is a mental wellbeing platform for modern workplaces. The work they do ensures that organizations are able to provide the support employees with respect to mental health.
COVID has accelerated many facets of tech – were there any noteworthy advancements from southeast Asia?
Yes definitely. Apart from some sectors doing really well (healthcare, food delivery, ecommerce, edutech etc.), I believe there are a few areas that COVID19 helped SEA advance. In markets where traffic impeded the ability for business people to meet, COVID19 helped make online meetings prevalent, and thus increased the amount of meetings/discussions that could happen in a day. COVID19 also helped organizations fast forward digital transformation efforts e.g. adoption of cloud services, remote working tools. COVID19 has also forced companies and cultures to evolve, with zombie businesses being forced to close and companies having to evolve their business model or fully adopt technology or die. Brick and mortar businesses, for example, are one such sector that faced these issues the hardest.
As a judge, what are some criteria you’ll be looking out for?
I believe in the right team behind the idea. A well balanced group of Cofounders, with complementary skills and experiences, can really make a difference to an idea. At the end of the day, execution is all that matters, and you need a great time to execute well.
Finally, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Pre COVID19, I enjoyed taking time off for dive trips with my partner or my close friends. The idea of spending a week away in a remote area, among the sun/sand/sea is something that really appeals to me. Unfortunately that has taken a hard stop due to COVID19. However, I still try to keep myself active by running. I have most recently started getting experimental with diets, and have recently experimented with the Keto diet, low carb diet and even celery juicing. And whenever I can, I spend time with the family playing Rummy, a card game.
Join judge Mohan at Elevating Founders, part of this year's fully virtual ConnecTechAsia. Register to visit here.