The Jakarta Post
Starting from January Ashraf Sinclair has gained a new role as venture partner for 500 Startups, a global venture capital seed fund and accelerator. (500.co/File)
Most people may recognize Ashraf Sinclair as a famous actor in both Malaysia and Indonesia. He has starred in many movies and dramas, among them Saus Kacang where he performed alongside his actress wife Bunga Citra Lestari, Gol & Gincu, Pashmina Aisha and Catatan Hati Seorang Istri.
However, not many people know that Ashraf is a seasoned business person. He has started restaurants, gyms, as well as content and production agencies. Moreover, he co-produced a sell-out solo concert by his wife. And on top of that, Ashraf has ventured into the tech industry and become an angel investor of Korean cosmetics company Althea.
“I have always loved business,” he said, adding that although he studied architecture at university, he realized that his calling was business.
Starting from January Ashraf has gained a new role as a venture partner for 500 Startups, a global venture capital seed funder and accelerator. He also works together with his friend Khailee Ng who is a managing partner of 500 Startups. Ashraf’s task is “basically to deal with and enrich Indonesia’s and Southeast Asia’s, but mainly Indonesia’s, startup community and ecosystem.”
Meanwhile, in a blog post on the official website of 500 Startups, Khailee wrote his reason for choosing Ashraf, “After seeing how he thinks, moves and adds value to a startup, I knew I wanted to work with him more. I want the startup industry to leverage the world of mass media and trends, something the local entertainment industry understands well. Ashraf can be this bridge.”
(from left to right) managing partner of 500 Startups Khailee Ng and celebrity Ashraf Sinclair who becomes the 500 Startups' latest partner.(JP/ Ni Nyoman Wira)
500 Startups has invested in several companies in Indonesia, including Bukalapak, Kudo, Bro.do, HIJUP and Kredivo. Moreover, following their success in the first phase of fund 500 Durians I, they aim to raise $50 million in funding for up to 250 companies for their second program, 500 Durians II. “Hopefully 100 of those companies will be from Indonesia,” Khailee said.
Ashraf explained that sometimes the most difficult part in establishing a startup is getting access to funding and 500 Startups sets itself in the early stage.
“We like to see the entrepreneurs put in some work, so it’s not just an idea,” Ashraf said. “We want to see that the idea itself generates products, teams, so therefore we can show that [there’s] proof of their concept.”
There is no boundary for the type of businesses that the seed funders invest in as long as the entrepreneurs already have a basic product or experience that supports their idea.
When it comes to the future of the startup landscape in Indonesia, Ashraf thinks that it will develop fast. “It’s already moving fast,” he said. “A lot of interest from abroad has entered this country, […] so our job is to catch up, make sure that we’re ready. […] We need to learn, to take ourselves up, […] so we can use the technology to build the country and business ecosystem.”
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