Giving back’ is important, and that giving is not just about money

Landscape more competitive now, anyone with an idea can be an entrepreneur

THE entrepreneur playbook, as dictated by Silicon Valley, is for entrepreneurs who successfully exit to become angel investors and/ or philanthropists.

Malaysian angel investor Douglas Khoo (pic above), also a principal at The Coding Shophouse, faced a similar turning point after exiting Qunar.com.

Qunar was only among the few startups he had cofounded, but the travel website was his most famous after it was acquired by Chinese search giant Baidu in 2011 for a whopping US$306 million.

“After I exited the company, besides playing golf every day, I decided to invest some of my money in startups,” Khoo said at Echelon Asia Summit 2016, the startup and investor gathering organised by Singapore-based tech blog e27.

“It was not so much about the need to generate more money, but to have access to startups and provide mentorship to them,” he added.

The problem is, after you have one successful travel startup, you tend to attract more of the same. In the startup world, like attracts like 

“Once you do travel, every other travel startup wants to have you as an advisor or on its board,” said Khoo.

“When I started investing in companies, the tendency was that because I knew the category well, I would try to help them along,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of the conference.

“But I felt that travel was pretty much done to death – it was just variations of the same theme and there was not much innovation,” he added 

So Khoo decided to diversify. He has got four travel startups under his belt, but the other four are in different fields, including a drone startup and Vibease – yeah, a remote-controlled vibrator company.

“I wanted to start diversifying and see if there was an opportunity to learn about different industries,” he added, declining to disclose details about his other investments.