Ben Mathias: Supporting The Startup Ecosystem & Entrepreneurs Who Have Ground Breaking Ideas With Early-Stage Capital | CEOInsights Vendor
Ben Mathias: Supporting The Startup Ecosystem & Entrepreneurs Who Have Ground Breaking Ideas With Early-Stage Capital

Ben Mathias: Supporting The Startup Ecosystem & Entrepreneurs Who Have Ground Breaking Ideas With Early-Stage Capital

Ben Mathias,  Managing Partner

Ben Mathias

Managing Partner

Despite global uncertainty, innovation is continuing at a breathtaking pace in 2022. India is full of entrepreneurs with bold and innovative ideas that leverage technology to build high growth businesses. They get their companies funded through venture capital. Ben Mathias, Managing Partner at Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India, is making investments in high growth startups seeking their first round of institutional venture capital funding(Seed/Series A/B) in Southeast Asia and India, with a primary focus on Singapore, India, Indonesia, Thailand and other emerging hubs of innovation across the region.

Ben Mathias has overseen tremendous expansion in Vertex Ventures in the last few years and is focused on building a long lasting and sustaining organization. Ben Mathias engages in a one-on-one interaction with the CEO Insights Magazine.

Tell us about your professional back ground and experiences. What factors influenced you to take the leadership role at Vertex Ventures SEA Asia India?
After graduating with a BTech from IIT Madras, I went to the US to pursue an MS at Dartmouth. I worked in the software industry for 14 years in Silicon Valley after that. As luck would have it, one day, I had lunch with Kittu Kolluri, my senior at IIT Madras. He was looking for someone to launch the India operations for the venture capital firm NEA. I met with the partners and subsequently joined the firm in their Silicon Valley office. That launched my career in Venture Capital. One year later, I moved to Bangalore and opened the NEA office there.

Several years later, I led an investment into FirstCry, India’s largest ecommerce platform for mom and baby products. Coincidentally, the prior investment round had been done by Vertex Ventures. I met Joo Hock Chua on one of his visits to India, and he
invited me to join him and Kee Lock Chua as the 3rd Managing Partner at Vertex Southeast Asia and India. Since then, we have grown our team in Bangalore. In addition, we also have offices in Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok, with more than 70 investments in our portfolio.

Never be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. It is only by stretching your self that you realize what you are capable of

Could you talk about the learnings and experiences you acquired from IIT Madras? What impact did those experiences have on how you developed as a leader?
The IIT alumni network significantly contributed to my professional life through mentorship and business introductions. At every step in my career, someone from the IIT community played a role. Regardless of which institution you study at, the college network is an invaluable asset that everyone should leverage in their careers. Jumping into the working world out of college is a wonderful and exciting time, but your undergraduate education doesn't really prepare you to be a leader in your professional life. As an undergraduate, you have a support system that protects and watches out for you. However, once you enter the professional world, you must compete hard through office politics and prove your worth daily to get ahead, and sometimes, you make mistakes that hurt your career. Having trusted advisors through your professional journey is critical and there can be no better source for this, that your alumni network.

How would you define Vertex Ventures SEA Asia India as an organization and its position in the market?
Vertex is the oldest and most respected venture capital firm in SEA. The firm was started more than 30 years ago in Singapore when the South Asian startup ecosystem was still in its infancy. After years of investing locally while thinking globally Vertex Ventures today has a unique track record and a uniquely well-connected global organization. We also build lasting relationships with founders based on trust, candor, and results. When I joined Vertex, we were relatively unknown in India. We subsequently built our team in Bangalore and today, we are considered among India's top venture capital firms. Our
investments include leading companies such as Licious, FirstCry, XPress Bees, Kapiva, Signzy, KukuFM, Kissht, and Ayu Health. We pride ourselves on being operational investors who provide more than just capital to our entrepreneurs.

What are some unique challenges you have experienced in your professional journey so far? How did you overcome them, and what did you learn from them?
I have made three major pivots in my career. The first was to enter the software industry with no education in computer science. This was relatively easy.The second was to become a venture capitalist with no investing background to speak of. This was tougher, but luckily, I had several mentors who helped me and taught me the industry. The third pivot, however, was the most challenging: moving to India and investing in a country I had left 16 years earlier. Until then, I
had only worked in the US and had no experience or professional network in India. I had to build this from scratch.

I learned that one should never be afraid of trying some thing new. It is only by stretching yourself that you realize what you are capable of.It is okay to fail as long as you have given something your best effort. Finally, never be shy to ask for help when you need it. There are always people willing to provide career mentorship.

What are your aspirations for the future?
I’d like to see 100 venture-backed technology companies IPO in India and at least 10 Indian SaaS companies reach $1Billion in revenue. My goal is to continue investing in promising founders in India with the intent of building long lasting and self sustaining technology businesses. As the 5th largest economy in the world and the fastest growing large economy, India is a land of opportunity and is thriving with young, ambitious entrepreneurs who want to do great things.

Ben Mathias, Managing Partner, Vertex Ventures SEA Asia India
Ben received his Master of Science in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and his Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Since joining Vertex Ventures in 2015, he has made several investments in the areas of Consumer Internet, Fintech, and Enterprise Technology. He is a Managing Partner in the firm and also has over all responsibility for their investments in India

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