“We love founders who always have a Plan B to survive”

Amasia’s Ramanan Raghavendran on grit, the role of granular metrics, and more.

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Promising startups need money to take root and grow. In this series, impact investors and backers break down the way they approach the market, and explain the rationale behind their funding decisions.

Amasia backs founders with global ambitions at the seed to Series B stages, across the United States, Southeast Asia, India, Europe and Latin America.

Its impact investments include TreeDots, a food surplus marketplace based in Singapore, and Clarity, a US-based air quality measurement company.

More recently, the VC firm took part in a pre-Series A fundraise for Spanish-based climate marketplace ClimateTrade and led a US$7.5 million investment into Indian startup Living Food, a delivery platform focused on fresh food.

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals

What kind of companies are you most likely to invest in?

From a tech standpoint, we invest in software and internet-of-things (IoT) companies. From a business model standpoint, our companies are usually subscription revenue based, although we also have companies that have transaction-based pricing.

But from a sector standpoint, we use our distinctive and unique ‘4 Rs’ framework, built around the idea that only behavior change can get us to a sustainable world.

This makes us interested in a broad array of sectors from environmental data and carbon accounting (R1 – ‘Review’) to re-use marketplaces (R2 – ‘Renew’) to remote work and learning (R3 – ‘Rethink’) to waste reduction by supply chain optimization (R4 – ‘Rebuild’).


What do you look for in a management team? 

We primarily look for founding teams that have grit and resilience, and a focus on substance versus the hype machine of the tech startup world.

We love founders who always have a Plan B to survive and thrive even if funding dries up – almost all our founders are like this. Experience is overrated.


What level of financial information is essential in a pitch deck?

Having high level traction numbers would really help in the initial analysis. This means revenue growth, ideally by quarter or by month, and capital efficiency. Of course, this is only if the information is available.


What criteria do you use to assess impact and sustainability? 

Our investment decision requires a clear fit into our 4 Rs framework. That is our primary mechanism for assessing impact and sustainability.

We are anxious to avoid missing the forest for the trees, and by that we mean not falling in love with granular metrics if the macro picture is awry.


Where do most applications and pitch decks fall down?

I think pitch decks have gotten much, much better over the last 10 years, as knowledge about how to do these right get better over the years.

We wish that more of the applications would draw a very clear link between their product and behavior change as a means to tackle the climate crisis, as that is the focus of our investment strategy.


If you could say just one thing to every startup, what would it be?

Know your customer. It is often the case that founders don’t really put themselves in the shoes of the investor, and doing so will greatly help the pitch.

As a simple example, our favorite pet peeve with pitch decks is when we get a link that doesn’t allow us to download easily to PDF for internal sharing. Many founders don’t permit downloads – perhaps they don’t know there are utilities that easily allow this conversion.

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Ramanan Raghavendran

Managing Partner, Amasia

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