Leet Capital

Asgari Stephens On Tips For Aspiring Angel Investors In Malaysia

Asgari Stephens is one of Malaysia’s most reputable angel investors and venture capitalists.

He started out his interest while closely working with venture capitals (VC) and private equity firms at Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd belonging to Malaysian business tycoon, Ananda Krishnan.  In 1999, he launched Intelligent Capital, a VC of his own for Malaysian startups. It was one of the VCs in Malaysia to be fully supported by private individuals and businesses. Some of his notable investments are the likes of BFM and Jobstreet. 

He shared many insights on angel investing on the recent Angel Investor Insight Series. Here are some tips for those who aspire to be angel investors in Malaysia.

On key things to look for when investing in startups…

The key to a successful startup is the people behind it. “Based on my experience, building a successful business with the wrong people is a recipe for disaster”, Asgari explained. One tip that he shares is to look at the business plan. A well-written business plan will clearly demonstrate what the team is bringing to the table – the idea,  structure,  expertise, passion, etc. These will give investors confidence and trust in how they will execute their plans using their personal strengths.

On red flags…

Again, it’s the people. “90% of my investment decisions on startups involve the people that are running the business”, stresses Asgari. Other red flags include founders focusing too much on the exit strategy in the early stages of their startup. “At the early stages, they firstly need to be passionate enough to ensure the success of their business”.  “This is why it’s vital to join accelerator programmes like the ones hosted by 1337 Ventures because it gets the people in the startups to really think about their strategies and produce something of quality for the investors to see”, Asgari added.

On his involvement in the startups…

Most angel investors learn a ton in their investing journey and the knowledge gained should be used to help the startups. Asgari elaborated, “angel investors really need to put in the effort to help the startups reach their full potential. Offer to advise, share expertise and contacts, meet the founder often to strategise or listen because they need support as it’s really tough to build a successful business”.

On other key factors that attracts him to invest…

In order to make a wise decision, angel investors need to do their due diligence before investing. Asgari shared that he prefers to invest in a business or industry that is thriving, has a decent market size and has a fair sustainable advantage. These can result in favourable returns. “If you are a startup looking to raise funds, never do it alone, just leave it to the experts like Leet Capital”.

On any specific industry that he is currently drawn to…

“Where I would like to invest would be in areas involving financial and retirement planning – because I foresee it being a big problem in the future. Also age care, given Malaysia’s rapidly growing ageing population”, said Asgari. Asgari’s recent venture is a licensed financial planning firm, Advisonomics which he co-founded.

On then vs now, how the startup ecosystem in Malaysia has evolved…

The investment ecosystem has seen a boom in recent years. “As compared to back then, the market size now is much wider and there are more angel investors that are willing to participate”. Asgari suggested that now is the time for startups to take advantage as there is more funding available.

On advise for aspiring angel investors…

Being an angel investor is risky. There are both failures and successes. “One way to learn is to join a network of angel investors. “Get educated, learn what to look for and actively listen to people who are actively investing, Asgari effectively wrapped up.

The Angel Investor Insight Series is for the ambitious investor or anyone who wants to learn more about angel investing and how to do it. Lean into the knowledge of experienced investors and inspiring leaders and discover their tried and tested strategies for success, opportunities for the future and more. RSVP here to our upcoming session.

Watch the full session with Asgari Stephens below.

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