The VC Interview: Q&A with Shannon Lee of NSI Ventures

According to Tech Crunch, only 7 percent of investing partners at the top 100 venture firms are women. What does it take to be at the top echelons of venture firms?

NSI Ventures makes investments in early-stage technology companies based in Southeast usually investment at Round A or B – where revenue traction is building and capital is required to drive rapid growth. Their current portfolio covers B2C and B2B technologies who are accessing local, regional and global markets.

Some of NSI Ventures’ investments include well-known brands such as Chope, Redmart, Love, Bonito and CXA.

LadyBoss spoke to Shannon Lee Chaluangco, analyst at NSI Ventures, to give us a sneak peek as she builds a career in venture firms.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: It’s exciting because every day is different, and it’s a role where I get to meet and work with many highly driven people.

I like the nature of my job. I especially like the people I am working with and they’re a large part of what makes going to work enjoyable.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

I work with a great team alongside the founders and general partners of NSI Ventures – Hian Goh and Shane Chesson.

Hian was an entrepreneur who founded and sold the AFC (Asian Food Channel) and Shane used to head Citi Tech APAC IBD brings good experience to the entrepreneurs we work with and the team in  NSI.

So I’m learning a lot and that is stimulating!

Along the way I try to pick up as much as I can learn to get better, talking to people, reading as much as I can and keeping an open mind.

Q: What are some challenges of being a woman in the VC world?

 A: So far I have not personally encountered any gender-specific challenges at work.

I mean, sometimes a startup I’m meeting for the first time might not recognize me at the coffee shop because they were expecting a “Mr Shannon”, but that is about as inconvenient as it gets!

One of the challenges is making a recommendation with the information I have.  I wonder if I know enough to put forward a recommendation, especially it is an area outside of my expertise.  Entrepreneurs may know way more than me, since they are running the business every day.

It’s very easy to criticise and think of reasons why we should not do a deal.

But why should we do a deal? That is much harder question, especially given we see so many pitches.

I try to see it as something like crossing the road, where you look left, right, left again and ask myself – “Why should we do this deal? Why should we not? And then again, why should we?”

 Along the way I try to pick up as much as I can learn to get better, talking to people, reading as much as I can and keeping an open mind.

There always is a fear it’ll never be enough though.

And I think the thing is we’re probably not enough individually.

It’s helpful at NSI where we have an ops team now who have much more experience and are able to fill in the gaps as a team.

Q: What are VCs looking for in startups?

A: At NSI, we always say PPE – Product, People and Exit.

If an investor is making you feel like your gender is big deal, re-consider taking his or her money.

Q:  Any advice for female entrepreneurs who are seeking funding?

A: So I am going to first acknowledge that yeah, there are some inherent biases and stereotypes we all unconsciously subscribe to. But I don’t think that means female founders seeking funding should behave very much differently from male founders.

As with any difficult situation, do not let it get to you and do not give up. If an investor is making you feel like your gender is big deal, re-consider taking his or her money.

I would also like to add that breaking down these biases is everyone’s responsibility.

I do call people out in situations where I think they are being sexist, and I think a lot of times people do it unconsciously, so it’s good to create some awareness and work towards a more equal environment.

I would definitely like to see more women starting up across all industries.

Photo credit: Bryan Hooi 

Written By

Co-founder and Business Development Director of LadyBoss, Melissa is a multi-hyphenate. Her other role is at BiTS (a business intelligence tech startup in Singapore) as their chief marketer and consults for various other startups. She dreams of saving the world. When she's not working, you'll find her soaking up the sun at the beach or enjoying a strong cocktail at a fancy bar! Connect with her on LinkedIn:

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