Always be apprenticing…

Our firm, SeedPlus, hosted an afternoon of discussion or brainstorming the other day. About 4 hours of a guided but mostly an agenda free afternoon. 

It was humbling, informative and eye opening to say the least. We had other VC’s in the room, entrepreneurs who have exited, entrepreneurs looking to start another journey and some folks in executive roles from some large SEA companies.

We asked questions, they asked each other questions and they asked us questions. What I realized, and what I find so amazing about learning to be a VC, is there is just so much to learn with so many people to glean it from.

Looking at this wiki ::

By developing similar performance to other practitioners, an apprentice will come to understand the tacit (informally taught) duties of the position. In the process of creating this awareness, the learner also affect their environment; as they are accepted by master practitioners, their specific talents and contributions within the field are taken into account and integrated into the overall practice.

During this meeting I was experiencing a 360 degree session of learning – from other VC’s, my partners, entrepreneurs and execs. I realize that this access is one of a kind and I have to respect the position this affords me. I am basically apprenticing from multiple facets all at once.

I still need to grok how best to use this but one thing I increasingly feel is that there is no going back. The journey to become a great VC will be long but given the chance to associate with folks greater than me is infinitely rewarding.

I sometimes feel our society is letting people down by creating single paths to supposedly doing well in life. Go to good school and then try to get a good job. It won’t work for everyone and wasn’t what happened to me. If along the way our kids could apprentice more we might be able to foster crafts and continue to create good employment.

As someone with a few kids, I worry a lot about this and continue to think about where this is all going.

Maybe the “future of work” or how one prepares for the future of work is a topic for SP Brainstorm #2. 

Singapore the 🎯 

Was quoted today in this article ::

My general view is that although the Chinese VC and Chinese company activity in SEA region is probably the most as compared to any other region – my gut says that in general Singapore will continue grow to become a target of other regions like the USA and Europe as well.

Singapore has become the default SEA HQ and as the startups continue to mature – the attractiveness to Singapore acquisitions and investment will climb.

Time Management

Wrote this the other day since I always think about time ::

Obviously that was driven more from a tech angle but it was this article that really had me thinking ::

My first son was born the day before my 35th birthday so the decade that followed was very heavy and consequential. Life mattered for more than my pure enjoyment — I had to be responsible for the futures of these two lovable, little boys. I still worked hard and the balance of my time and energy went into family. My relationships narrowed to a smaller set of people who really mattered to me, my number of frivolous hobbies dwindled to only the most valuable and time became my scarcest commodity. If you’ve lived a decade with young children you know that it’s both unbelievably rewarding and also physically and emotionally exhausting.

Having kids hits everyone in the jaw when it comes to time management. You really cannot burn a candle at both ends and there are only 24 hours in a day. I also need about 7 hours of sleep to feel good. If you work and have a family then something has to be cut. For me I stopped going to most evening events, tech industry is too hung up on evening events as well but guess that works for some, and I stopped doing silly side projects.

I get up, workout, get the kids out, get to work, and come home. Pretty much every damn day besides the weekends. My legacy will be my family and hopefully colleagues I have worked with over the years will say good things. I also aim to leave my mark as a VC.

I also love reading the Prof and this is from one of his letters:

Brunch with friends, tv, and sleeping in were great, but there’s a comfort in having the same answer to most of life’s questions: whatever is best for the kids. People without kids bask in the same light when they’re kind and caring to others.

It’s so spot on. Basically kids rule the schedule. Yes – kids also have to be provided for which means one has to work. My point is there is sometimes little time left for other things but I think that is okay since it forces better time management and focus.

I am struggling to find the balance as well so if anyone has any great tips. Do share!


One of our views is that automation will eat the world – like it or not. For me personally, I try to figure out ways to get more productive and manage my own time better. As a VC, I take a lot of meetings. Which means being heavily into my calendar. I have pretty much always relied on Fantastical. They have a new update ::

Which is killer but I must say that I use it less and less. Why?

Cause my calendar is largely automated via email using

They have just launched their new product and rebranding.

Full disclosure – SeedPlus is an investor but I was using it before that happened.

Anyways. Check it out. You will love it.

Ask A VC #6


Planning on creating a startup and looking to raise some angel money to kick things off. I want to raise money first from friends and family. Any advice?


First off, although it might be called the friends and family round, I suggest exercising caution in actually taking that round label seriously.

Note that most startups fail and if you lose all your capital you might find your family and friends to be a little upset. So make sure they know the risks and that this is disposable capital for them since they may think this is the new gravy train and trust me, it’s not.

Also make sure you do the paperwork right and structure it as a proper note and treat it like all other investors. Maybe sweeten the discount but don’t do silly stuff like promise to pay it back early or do non-standard terms that scare off your future institutional investors.


This was posted today ::

Which is great – I appreciate good press.

However I want to clarify the first paragraph:

Michael Smith of early-stage venture fund SeedPlus, an affiliate of Jungle Ventures, is uncertain about the trajectory of early-stage funding in Singapore and the wider region but believes that deep technology as a segment will emerge a winner in the long run.

This was the question that this answer was lifted from:

From your current perspective in the ecosystem, what’s the general trajectory for early-stage funding (i.e. pre-seed to Series A) and its evolution since 2015? What is the future?

My answer:

The future is something we can’t predict but we feel that deep tech will emerge as a winner in the Singapore ecosystem and that across the region there will be startups raising substantial money at the pre-A level for regional or APAC wide business ideas that need institutional money on their way to their Series A. The future looks pretty exciting in our opinion.

I don’t think what I said was I am uncertain. What I said is I can’t predict the future. I don’t have a crystal ball, startup opportunity, and I don’t think it ever makes sense to try and predict the future.

I am just honest in saying no one knows what will happen but I am confident the ecosystem has a very promising future.