AC Ventures & Investing into Indonesia with Helen Wong

AC Ventures & Investing into Indonesia with Helen Wong
Helen Wong shares the mission & vision of AC Ventures and examines the current investment landscape from Indonesia to Southeast Asia and where it is heading.

Fresh out of the studio, Helen Wong, managing partner from AC Ventures joined us in a conversation about AC Ventures and the firm's investment thesis onto the largest economy in Southeast Asia: Indonesia. Helen began with her background story from how she started in Silicon Valley, then moved to China and witnessed the rise of the Chinese tech scene. Following on, she explained her mental model in how she evaluates and invests in founders from the Indonesian tech scene. Last but not least, she discuss what great would look like for AC Ventures in Southeast Asia.

"I would say first of all Indonesia is probably one of the remaining opportunities in a huge market, that's more or less homogeneous with a population of 270 million. You have to look at the GDP  (gross domestic product) per capita is around 4,000 and then the GDP growth itself: it's about 5%. So I think you are hard-pressed to find any other country that matches these three very promising criteria. I would say that secondly, on the technology side, a high level of digitization has taken place and internet penetration has grown very quickly, especially during covid. So we are about 70% internet penetration and the whole digital infrastructure is ready for companies to take advantage of them, by that I mean things like payments and logistics. Then I would say that there are other factors that make this market attractive more for the venture capital ecosystem,  One is talent. I think you'll find the most number of entrepreneurs in Indonesia in the Southeast Asia region. Number two is you can find follow on capital. for early-stage investors, that's really important, right? Thirdly maybe most importantly, you can find a local exit market. So the IDX is open for iPOs and we've had three IPOs in the last two years. so I think those are the most attractive factors when you think about Indonesia as an emerging market." - Helen Wong


  • Helen Wong, Managing Partner, AC Ventures (LinkedIn)
  • How did you start your career?
  • Given that you have been in Qiming Ventures and GGV Capital, can you talk about your experiences working in the venture capital space in China and emerging countries?
  • What interesting lessons can you share with my audience about your career journey?

Why Indonesia is the Next China for Tech Investment

  • AC Ventures and Investing in Indonesia
  • Can you talk about the inspiration behind AC Ventures and what made you decide to come on board as a managing partner?
  • Does AC Ventures have an investment thesis?
  • What are the mission and vision of AC Ventures?
  • How do you explain the market opportunity of investing in Indonesia to investors all over the world who are looking for opportunities in emerging markets such as Indonesia?
  • What are the differences between the Indonesian market today as compared to the Chinese market say 20 years back or the Indian market in the last decade?
  • What are the stages of the companies in their life cycle the fund invests in?
  • What is the one thing you know about being a venture capitalist in Southeast Asia that not many people do?
  • From your experience in China, you have led investments in companies such as Akulaku and RedDoorz and served on the boards of high-profile Chinese internet companies, including Tudou/Youku and Mobike. What are the differences that you have seen in the startup teams and founders in Indonesia compared to China?
  • What traits do you look for in founders and their startup teams in Indonesia?
  • How does the fund help the entrepreneurs to achieve their goals? What is the support that you provide for them?
  • What is the mental model in thinking about the valuation of a company when you invest in them?
  • What do you think about the exits for the companies you have funded?
  • Reversing the questions, what are the red flags that would deter you from investing?
  • What are the interesting companies that AC Ventures have invested in?
  • How does the fund see the Indonesian market? Is it similar to how VCs think about China and India where secondary effects follow large market sizes?
  • How do you guide entrepreneurs to navigate geographic expansion beyond Indonesia which they need to adapt to in the future?
  • Where do you think venture capital is heading in Southeast Asia? Is it just going to be local venture capital in their respective countries?
  • What does great look like for AC Ventures?


  • Do you have any recommendations that have inspired you recently?
  • Helen's recommendation: She drew her inspiration from her daughter's learning agility and asking important questions about climate change and business.
  • How does my audience find you?

Podcast Information: The show is hosted and produced by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong, Linkedin) and Carol Yin (@CarolYujiaYin, LinkedIn). Proper credits for the intro and end music: "Energetic Sports Drive" and the episode is mixed & edited in both video and audio format by G.Thomas Craig (@gthomascraig, LinkedIn).