Lost and Founded Series – Hian Goh

Hian Goh, Venture Capitalist and Partner at NSI Ventures, doesn’t do it for the money. He does it to prove it can be done.


Hian Goh (left) together with Shane Chesson (right), Hian’s partner at NSI Ventures

Apparently Hian Goh, Venture Capitalist and Partner at NSI Ventures, doesn’t do it for the money. According to the founder of Asian Food Channel, he does it to prove it can be done. No ordinary VC, the sharp-witted, charismatic Goh is a straightforward, down-to-earth guy who believes in fighting for the people who are part of his journey in life. Believing that failure is in inevitable part of success and therefore a fear of failure is a fear of success, Goh is likewise inspired and driven towards by success by many things – from his fellow entrepreneurs who go at it every day and look more tired than him to the road sweeper in her 70s below his house who smiles at him daily despite her tiring job. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke cigars and frequently daydreams about his future self-driving car, solar-powered home and robotic flatbread maker.

People say you are "Hian Goh, Founder of Asian Food Channel". Who do you say you are?

The person who has spent 15 years as an entrepreneur in Asia and the last 5 years fixing the Series A crunch.

Best moment in your startup life. It was so good you wanted to fly BusinessClass somewhere with someone, and pop open the most expensive bottle of champagne there.

Haha! Loaded question. If I had to pick one, it was when we gave cheques to the top 20 employees of Asian Food Channel for their buyout packages for their options. Some of them cried when they saw their number. It was one of the best moments.

What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?

I don’t think there was one. Honestly. I couldn’t even if I tried. I’ll get back to you if I think of one.

What's the most eccentric thing about you? If VCs found out, they won't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.

I don’t do it for the money. I do it to prove that it can be done. Then again, when I meet someone like that I tend to get excited to invest in him or her.

Have you ever cried? Or what was the lowest, crappiest moment in your start-up life. You wanted to give up everything. You wanted to kill someone. (During your startup career of course) Tell us more!

Probably more than once. I cried when we launched the channel. I cried when we almost could not make payroll. I cried when we sold the company. Yeah I cry a lot.

What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?

We now run a Series A venture capital fund called NSI Ventures. It is part of the Northstar Group. My 3 year old jumping on my bed generally gets me up in the morning.

How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?

Good question! I stopped smoking cigars. I don’t drink. People think I’m health conscious nowadays, but hey when you get into your 40s you have to do this just to keep your energy level up. I’m a hacker so I’ve tried everything from 5 meals a day, to intermittent fasting, to low carb, to triathalons. Now I’m into moderate jogging and weight training. I figure the best way to keep fit is to build muscle mass and so your body has a higher metabolic rate which allows you to eat well and sleep well.

Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.

Try to cook all your meals. Avoid sugar. Next Question.

Movie or song that best describes you.

Bitch Better Have my Money - Rihanna. We are VCs. So yeah, we don’t just walk around and talk about things. We fund people for them to get on with it.

Favourite quote.

“Failure is an inevitable part of success. Therefore a fear of failure is a fear of success.” (Hian Goh, 2014)

Who and what inspires you?

My kids inspire me. My wife inspires me. My dad inspires me. The road sweeper downstairs who is in her 70s who I say hi to every morning because she has a tough job but she does it with a smile inspires me. My business partner, Shane, who is a detailed oriented ex-banker who nails down term sheets inspires me. My entrepreneurs who go at it every day and look more tired than me inspires me. It’s like what they say in the Army - You don’t fight for king and country. You fight to save your fellow men in the trenches. Those who know me will tell you I may be a straight-forward person with increasingly less and less patience for incompetence and underperformance, but I am fiercely loyal and will back the people who are part of our journey and our portfolio companies. *****drops the mic*****

Tell me about Hian Goh in 2030.

Hian Goh in 2030 is hopefully a venture capitalist with a self-driving car owning, a robotic flatbread maker www.rotimatic.com eating, solar powered zero carbon homeowner with two teenage daughters who do not frustrate daddy.

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