Conversations with Kent Loi

By Nicole Lim

Kent Loi is an Investor at Amasia, where he is involved in sourcing and executing investments and managing existing portfolio companies. In this article, Kent shares the responsibilities of his role and what it takes for others to join his profession.

Connect with Kent on LinkedIn

I am an investor at Amasia, we are a thesis-driven global venture capital (VC) firm with a focus on seed to series B companies. Our investment thesis centers around catalyzing sustainable behavior change as a means to fight the climate crisis.

There is no typical workday, but my work generally involves deal execution, portfolio management and fund operations. On deal execution, I source for investment opportunities and manage the various deal processes necessary to close investments. More specifically, this involves speaking to private companies Amasia might be interested in investing in, doing market research, and preparing investment memos for promising targets. Portfolio management involves keeping track of key metrics and updates from portfolio companies and quarterly reporting. Finally, fund operations involve various ad-hoc projects such as leading recruitment campaigns for the fund and optimising internal databases.

There are busy periods, such as reporting seasons, but in general, work flow depends on what deals are on the table and changing business needs, both of which do not have fixed timelines.

I actually discovered VC in JC through general reading and exploring career choices. I was

inspired by the privilege of being in venture, being able to help founders create great companies that can fundamentally change the status-quo and I also found discovering disruptive technologies and business models exciting — it felt like looking into the future. 

I went into university wanting to enter venture capital. When I got into university, I realised that VC wasn’t the most straightforward opportunity to break into, and started exploring parallel opportunities that let me build similar skills or experiences, such as roles in start-ups and via internships.

 These diverse experiences helped me refine my thoughts on what my values were and what I wanted in a career, which got me to my current role. Specifically, I wanted my work to involve value creation – it’s rewarding to play a role in building something that is greater than the sum of its parts. I also wanted a job that was intellectually challenging. I could find these in a job in venture capital, on top of the aspects of it that I already liked.

Experience-wise, working in VC is intellectually rewarding, with a wide breadth of challenges and different opportunities, in terms of looking at companies in different investment stages and dealing with different functional challenges.

It has been very humbling to work with very smart and experienced people in the industry, who have been generous with their time and willing to teach. It has also been exciting to look at new technologies and businesses and how they fit into sustainability and the fight against climate change.

I did a VC internship before, so my expectations weren’t too divorced from reality. But as a full-time analyst and associate, there is greater ownership of the investment process and value creation, which goes beyond mechanical things that you may do as an intern such as building decks or writing investment memos. In reality, because of the vast pool of capital available to valuable companies, there is a greater emphasis on building meaningful relationships with founders and being able to add differentiated value as an investor.  

I think there are a wealth of opportunities for students with different skill-sets and interests. There are direct roles such as being an investor in a sustainability-focused fund, andalso increasingly many opportunities across the value chain, for example in regulatory and consulting roles.  

There are also indirect opportunities in existing roles that are not exactly sustainability focussed, but are starting to incorporate aspects of sustainability. Sustainability will permeate into many roles across many industries, not just in finance or VC, so there are many ways to be a part of the movement.

For hard skills it is generally a level of comfort with technology, finance and business models. On the soft skills side, it is intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, communication skills, and just being pleasant to work with which may not be something that people tend to focus on but is very important.

The range of experiences I had helped me develop the critical and systematic thinking skills that I found to be essential. The breadth of the different roles that I experienced before starting at Amasia is also similar to the variety of topics I look at now, in terms of its diversity.

Be relentless in acquiring experiences. There is a wealth of information available online but nothing quite beats real life experience in building expertise and in helping you figure out what you want to do. Opportunities not directly related to your primary interests can also be valuable. Having a diverse background helps develop differentiated points of view that can potentially set you apart.

It’s also important to think critically about what is best for you — some industries and roles can be heavily romanticised. It is completely alright to pivot or change your mind on what you want to do. University is a great time to experiment and test your hypothesis.