Photo: Veronica Tay

In five words, how do you explain your role at Integra Partners to a new acquaintance?

Help founders build audacious companies.

How do fintech and digital healthcare intersect in your portfolio, and what synergies do they create in your investment strategy?

Financial services are the lever that unlocks access and affordability for many goods and services integral to modern life. For example, insurance and credit are our best tools for increasing healthcare penetration in emerging markets. 

Photo: Veronica Tay

Financial, physical, and mental wellness are two sides of the same coin, so if the goal is to improve people’s lives, you can’t focus on one without the other. Access to credit (such as earned wage access) and greater financial literacy ensure that borrowers don’t fall prey to predatory lending. Healthcare affordability ensures that these individuals don’t spiral into debt due to illness and helps people stay healthy and productive for longer. 

How would you evaluate the funding viability of a startup?

When we look at a startup, we always have to ask ourselves, is this a company that can become a champion in its own country but will need help scaling regionally? Or is this a regional leader? Or is this a globally competitive company that happens to be based in Southeast Asia?

If it’s going to be a local champion, what kind of exit are we likely to achieve, and what valuation will we, therefore, have to enter in order for us to be able to drive VC-style returns? And suppose it’s the regional or global opportunity we’re going after. How much capital is this company going to need to get there?

What are the critical factors and founder qualities you prioritise when investing in early-stage fintech companies?

I’ll tell you the three factors that I think are critical (and hard to find in one person): the ability to tell a story and align customers, employees, and investors behind the same goal, the ability to recognise your weaknesses and hire a team to complement you, and lastly — especially in a capital-scarce environment — the ability to be clear-eyed about what is and isn’t working. And, of course, integrity, which is non-negotiable. 

Could you highlight a portfolio success story illustrating your fund’s impact?

My favourite portfolio company story started two years before I joined Integra Partners. 

I remember admiring a cybersecurity startup, ReaQta (now QRadar), featured in Wired during a peak era of cybercrime. Surprisingly, upon joining Integra, I was appointed to the board of this exact startup, fulfilling my initial fascination. And the founder and the product he was building were as interesting as I had predicted. But it was not without its challenges.

We will continue to identify and invest in themes that create the most significant outcomes for the everyday person.

Jennifer Ho, partner at Integra Partners VC, on the critical role financial services play in unlocking access and affordability.

We had made a bet on this cutting-edge piece of technology. We now had to figure out how to communicate this to customers and other investors without resorting to incomprehensible jargon, which took a lot of work.

But luckily, we figured it out well enough to achieve a perfect exit. That investment drove the returns of our first fund, which was a life-changing return for the founder, too. The experience of working with us was positive enough that he’s now an investor in our second fund!

Where do you envision Integra Partners in the next decade, and how will you adapt your strategies to align with technological advancements and market shifts?

It’s one of my favourite things about being in VC — to think about the future and the possibilities that it brings. We try to be nimble by constantly educating ourselves, understanding how these shifts might change the investment landscape, and developing a framework to identify where they might present interesting investment opportunities for funds like ours.

One thing that won’t change is that we will continue to identify and invest in the largest opportunities that drive outsized returns and themes that create the most significant outcomes for the everyday person.