Meet our Venture Partner: Swami Sekar

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Where is your hometown?

Chennai-ite at heart, Singapore is currently home, citizenship is of the world.

Tell us about yourself and your past experience?

I’m a Technologist, Investor and Serial Entrepreneur.  

I have been fascinated by the advances in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, especially as applied towards Natural Language Processing. I believe we are going into a conversation-first world.

I led a multi-award winning Voice and Conversational AI company helping evangelise and transform Brand-Customer Engagement. And formerly, worked in Tech Product and Business roles at Intel, VMWare and AMD, and Corporate Venture Capitalist at Intel Capital.

I did my undergraduate studies in Engineering from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. I have a Masters in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

What is one thing that people might be surprised to learn about you?

I’m an early riser and go through the first hour of my day (walk, eat, shower, meditate, or laze) in dark-mode.

What most excites you about joining the Accelerating Asia team?

I am really excited about the Accelerating Asia accelerator VC model that combines a program with investment. It brings my passion for tech venture investing and operations together in one place!

I’m looking forward to playing an active role in strengthening the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Asia.

Why do you enjoy working with startups and investors?

I have a strong passion for 0-to-1 venture building, working on team and product-market fit validation journeys. I’ve been an operator (co-founding or working in early-stage startups) and an investor (Angel and Venture Capital).

I believe as an investor, you bring expertise from a financial and business model view (so you can slice and dice the proposition of the entrepreneur you are talking to), or from an operational view (opportunity, possible potholes and hurdles) that are immediate as well as 50 steps out. I continue to hone and apply these with the startups I work with.

Can you tell us about your investor journey - why did you start investing in startups?

Putting the skin in the game - either as an investor or as an operator (entrepreneur) makes you really understand, empathise and be a co-passenger on the journey of a venture.

Over the past 15 years, I began as an Entrepreneur, then operated as an Investor (Venture Capital and Angel), and back again as an Entrepreneur for the past 4 years. This has helped learn, mould, test and refine my strength areas in an iterative, agile manner.

When investing as a VC or Angel, I’ve focused on investing in individuals or teams, and helping them mature to realise the potentials of scale and growth after crossing the validation chasm.

What are some of the trends in the regional ecosystem at the moment?

We’re seeing some particular verticals that investors are interested in. In Asia, SaaS will continue to drive significant investment focus, as will platforms. There are huge opportunities in those post Covid as most legacy business operations and manual processes/interactions will digitise.

I think Southeast Asia will continue to see replica (copy-cat, localise, scale-grow fast) models especially due to the larger population base and relatively less mature technology ecosystem.

Why do you think the SEA and South Asia  presents investment opportunities?

In the region there are countries that will leapfrog tech adoption journey, and there’s a huge consumer and SME market segment with users and data acquisition opportunities. 10+ years of strong entrepreneurial activity creates a strong ecosystem with startup experienced and seasoned operators and workforce and that’s what we’re starting to see. Exits are still a concern, as are enterprise/B2B product/Tech companies emerging from this region.

In terms of Covid, there are hug opportunities in addressing consumer and SME needs through digitisation (a lot of the journeys, services and experiences are still manual, physical today)

The last 20 years have seen innovation in the digital space (Web, SaaS, Cloud, Social/mobile/messaging). And the next 10 years will be about innovation in the physical space (digital in physical inclusive) including Retail, Travel, Medical, Agri and services.

Any tips for people wanting to become more actively involved as angel investors?

Investing means putting sufficient skin in the game, which will allow you to build your thesis and experience - and be part of the entrepreneurship ecosystem unlike any mentor/advisory roles can.

Strategically, Starting with clear vision of why you want to be an Angel Investor;

Operationally having clear understanding of capital, timeframe appetite, as well as outcomes/KPIs you will look to track; and

Tactically getting active and immersed into the startup ecosystem through angel networks, pitch events and activity contributing to the community (digital and physical).

Is there anything in particular you look for in startups?

  • Ability to say No/Ability to focus
  • Execution capability and track record
  • Clarity in unit economics and key segment/behaviour insights

Invest in the future

Accelerating Asia invests in startups with scalable technology solutions and revenue generating business models that combine purpose with profit.


In making an investment decision, investors must rely on their own examination of startups and the terms of the investment including the merits and risks involved. Prospective investors should not construe this content as legal, tax, investment, financial or accounting advice.