Interview with Jowell Shek - Catalyst Ventures
Journey to working in the VC space
Jowell has a bachelors degree in Hospitality and Tourism and a variety of roles brought her to Catalyst Ventures which invests in TravelTech and MarketingTech. A natural fit!
Jowell worked at a variety of startups during university and recognised “her enjoyment of a small company where she could really see her contributions and value coming through in different ways”. However as she has a love of travelling, the opportunity to be a Cathay Pacific stewardess was too good an opportunity to miss out on in order to see a lot of the world.
Yet, after a year, fate intervened and a friend of hers recommended applying for a role at Fresco Capital which is focused on seed and early stage investment to create maximum impact. Following on from her experiences at Fresco she then joined Catalyst Ventures inspired by one of the partners, Alex Cheng, who said he “wants to coach another generation of young people in investing”.
Working at Catalyst Ventures
Jowell is an analyst at Catalyst Ventures where her role is to reviews deals, meet with startups, attend startup events and do extensive research to source deals. As they focus on TravelTech and MarketingTech, Jowell explained that their portfolio companies include:
TravelTech: Telkie which is growing to be a digital hotel concierge including chatbots for hotels.
MarketingTech: Zectr, marketing research automation for companies and; CloudBreakr, an AI automated influencer marketing platform to connect corporates and influencers and manage their resulting campaigns.
The launch of Hong Kong Angels’ Angle
Jowell launched Hong Kong Angels’ Angle recently, which is a meetup group in Hong Kong. Many people often think angel investing is only for the super wealthy or aren’t sure how to start. So Jowell set it up for everyone who “is interested in early-stage investing or considering becoming an angel investor so they can have a community and an opportunity to learn about angel investing”.
The group meets monthly in a laid back environment and will either showcase a startup or hold a roundtable discussion at each meeting. The next meeting will be on 27 June, and will be a startup showcase for aspiring angel investors to learn from each other as they listen and ask questions in a real pitch setting. If you are interested make sure to RSVP now!
3 key founder and business qualities for investment
As Catalyst Ventures focuses on early-stage startups Jowell explained they look for the following when investing:
- The right product-market fit. Is there a real problem that is pervasive? Does the company demonstrate how they are addressing the needs of the market with their product?
- Visible traction. The company must have more than a concept, but a minimum viable product (MPV) that shows traction, even if it’s not profit making yet. Also they need to show that people willing to pay for it.
- The right team - Is the team passionate, experts in their field, understand the problem and target market? Are they committed enough to stick through the difficult times that all startups experience?
How founders should approach investors
Jowell suggested the following actions before approaching investors:
Research the type of investor whose investment approach is in line with your business e.g. industry focus, cheque size.
Try to get a warm referral to your preferred investor i.e. find someone to make the introduction.
Have your investment deck ready including the details on your investment ask. Be transparent on what you want out of a meeting with the investors e.g. money, connections, money, feedback, relationships building. Share your demo if you have one.
Jowell’s favourite podcast
The Pitch podcast. It invites startups to pitch to a group of angel investors or VCs and you can listen in.
You can learn how investors think and what is their thought process and listen to their investor post-discussion, plus their final decision.
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