Venture capital firms offer help for laid-off start-up employees

Venture capital (VC) firms across South-east Asia have launched a community-led initiative to help start-up employees who were laid off due to the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak find new opportunities.

The anchor of the initiative is a public database of affected employees who can opt to have their names, functions and contact details disclosed. The database will be publicised on the social media platforms of the participating VC firms.

They include Saison Capital, FutureLabs, Jungle Ventures, Alpha JWC, Convergence Ventures, Patamar Capital, Rainmaking, TRIVE Ventures and Tribe Accelerator.

Interested applicants with at least one year of working experience can apply to have their names included on the database via a form found at

Their application will be verified by one of the supporting VC firms before being listed on the database. The database will also include a list of companies that are still hiring in the region.

The initiative is spearheaded by Mr Chia Jeng Yang, principal at Saison Capital; Ms Simin Liu, an analyst at FutureLabs Ventures; and Ms Rachael De Foe, a freelance communications consultant.

Mr Chia said the trio were inspired after seeing a similar effort by VC firms in the United States. "People through no fault of their own have been laid off, and we want to create something that can help them here and now," he said.

Said Mr Joachim Vandaele, partner at FutureLabs Ventures: "Top talent is what makes or breaks ventures, so as an ecosystem, we have a collective interest and responsibility to keep the talent in South-east Asia. Customers come and go, financial capital flows in and out, but human capital is what we need to hold on to."

In the same spirit, Ms Elise Tan, a consultant who works with start-ups, has built a spreadsheet that matches start-up companies to volunteer mentors.

Interested volunteers or start-ups can fill in a form at to have their names included. Once they have done so, they will be added to a LinkedIn group to be matched to each other.

So far, more than 60 individuals have signed up as volunteers and have pledged to mentor a start-up for one hour a week.

Said Ms Tan: "Covid-19 has affected many companies around the world. Start-ups with little resources and funding will be even harder hit.

"We are all banding together to help these start-ups by contributing our time on a pro bono basis".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2020, with the headline Venture capital firms offer help for laid-off start-up employees. Subscribe