Pieter Kemps

  • Seed/Surge
  • +
  • SEA
“Honesty is everything. Working with founders, I am an open book. We’ll discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you do that with sincerity and respect, you’ll soon be the founder’s first port of call.”

I was born in a small village in the Netherlands, one of Europe’s tiniest countries. From an early age, I wanted to see more, learn more. In college, I asked my professor, “Where can I experience the biggest culture shock possible?”

I had hitchhiked through France when I was 13, and played competitive table tennis throughout Europe when I was 16, but wanted more. When my prof answered “Japan”, I was in. I packed my bags a few months later and moved to Tokyo. The culture shock was real – and I loved it! Being surprised every day is insanely inspiring. Experiencing the unusual, the new, the outliers. I’ve continued to seek that out ever since.

That’s why I love what I do. Every day, I meet new founders. Learn about new problems. New technologies, products, business models. And having moved to Singapore in 2005, I get to learn about so many markets and cultures. It is wonderful to be working closely with founders of 10 nationalities across eight different countries!

Many of these are ‘emerging’ economies. With lots of change, ambiguity, chaos. But chaos breeds opportunity. And that’s where we play. Emerging trends. Emerging technologies. I enjoyed working on Day 1 of RFID, Day 1 of Voice over IP, and I joined Amazon Web Services on Day 1 in Asia, helping to drive the emerging Cloud trend across the region. And in Sequoia India & Southeast Asia, I get to partner with many emerging companies from Day 1.

Founders with big dreams. I believe many venture investors are optimists. But then reality kicks in. Numbers. Spreadsheets. A deep desire to minimize uncertainty and ambiguity. That desire is equally important as dangerous. Because early on, it is all about empathy. About vision. Can you see the founder’s dream?

On my first trip to our Menlo Park office, I met Sir Michael Moritz, who talked about this. He called it the “Dream Gene”. And he urged me to develop that gene. Since then, I have increasingly focused on early and seed investments. And have pushed myself to dream with founders about that new thesis, that new market or business model. Or that new technology, like Sequoia India & Southeast Asia’s first investment in crypto and quantum computing in the region.

The opportunity to dream is especially large in emerging markets. There are many challenges at the macro level, the infrastructure level, that have not been solved yet. Can this small company one day have an outsized impact on an entire country? Or the region, the world? In the early days of Gojek – when we started to see millions of rides each day – we sometimes joked that we had inadvertently helped build the public transport system of Jakarta. That’s the type of impact we love!

Get in touch with Pieter

Football / Travel / (Table) Tennis / Music / Skiing / Family

Press & Media

Current Companies

  • Funding Societies, otherwise known as Modalku in Indonesia, is a pioneering SME digital lending platform in Southeast Asia.
    Partnered In

    2016

  • Gojek is the fastest courier, transport, food delivery, and shopping services provider in Indonesia.
    Partnered In

    2015

  • Horizon Quantum Computing is a Singapore-based company building software-development tools to enable the next revolution in computing.
    Partnered In

    2020

  • Insider is a Growth Management Platform offering marketers an integrated suite of AI-powered capabilities to drive growth and improve marketing ROI.
    Partnered In

    2017

  • Multiplier is a leading global employment platform that takes care of global teams’ payroll, taxes, social contributions & local insurance policies, making it easy for companies to employ teams internationally.
    Partnered In

    2020

  • Qoala is an InsureTech company leveraging big data, machine learning, IoT, and blockchain to revolutionise Indonesia's insurance landscape.
    Partnered In

    2020

  • Tokopedia is an online marketplace for individuals and small and midsize business owners in Indonesia.
    Partnered In

    2014

  • WATI helps companies have personalized conversations with customers at scale with an easy-to-use customer engagement software that’s built on WhatsApp Business API.
    Partnered In

    2021