UBS Tech Connect SEA was launched in Singapore in 2021 after the bank identified a rapid growth of technology unicorns in Southeast Asia in late 2017. The goal was to help technopreneurs accelerate their business growth and put SEA on the map as the next tech valley. UBS has been supporting the growth of promising technology firms with their capital, connections, expertise and global platform. Yeoh Choo Guan, the head of SEA global markets and head of Tech Connect APAC, Singapore, at UBS, talks about empowering the next generation of tech powerhouses.
What excites you about this portfolio?
I have been with UBS for 20 years and feel privileged to be working with passionate, high-energy teams. With Tech Connect SEA, I am not only able to collaborate with different teams within the bank, I am also privy to the journey of these brilliant technopreneurs. It is inspiring to hear the stories of the founders, their growth journey, setbacks and successes.
As a long-time investment banker, I like to analyse and break down companies into puzzle pieces and figure out which pieces are missing and how I can help complete the puzzle. It is a beautiful process where my team and I identify the unique needs of each firm and pull together resources from UBS’ wide network to help solve some of the problems tech founders are facing.
What are some recent tech trends that have captured your attention or ignited your interest, and why?
This year, I have had the pleasure of meeting food-tech firms started by Singaporeans that focus on developing alternative proteins through extracting cells and growing meat in the lab. The alternative food trend snuck up on us, first with the introduction of plant-based meats like Impossible and Beyond being served in restaurants by celebrity chefs before it started appearing in our grocery stores. Nowadays, these plant-based meats are widely accepted by consumers. I was absolutely amazed by their technology and products.
I never imagined that Singapore would become the food-tech hub and regional food-tech leader it is today. I was born in Ipoh, a small town with access to the freshest vegetables and seafood, which has helped hone my refined palate. With UBS, I was fortunate to be able to live and work in cities that offered the best delicacies. So it’s only natural for me to be a foodie and to develop a love for food!
Another trend I’ve been following is the use of blockchain and the cryptocurrency market. It’s been such a rollercoaster ride for this digital asset. I started looking at Bitcoin when it was priced at US$30 ($40). Today, it’s grown almost 2,000 times. The best part is, nobody has broken the code and created a formula to forecast the price of Bitcoin — it is all built on gamification.
What exactly can UBS Tech Connect SEA do to help these start-ups?
To support the growth of promising tech firms, accelerate their business growth and support them in their journey to becoming the next generation of unicorns, UBS Tech Connect SEA unlocks access to an exclusive network of experienced leaders and domain experts through our capital, connections and global platform.
We have a strong track record in leading tech deals from the largest IPO on IDX to investing in fintech firms. Our wealth management business covers clients across generations and increasingly, there are many wealth management clients who are interested in the tech sector.
We have been collaborating with Singapore’s wealthiest families for over 50 years. With our extensive network of clients and connections, we have facilitated connections between promising founders and the Founders’ Circle — where we encourage partnership and the exchange of knowledge.
We have a global platform where we select different technology firms to be featured. One of them is The Next Wave, a series of events that shines the spotlight on up-and-coming tech firms with interesting value propositions. This series increases the awareness of technology trends, innovations and investment opportunities for our colleagues and clients. We also hold exclusive interviews and meetings with top tech names in the region and share these insights on our website. We aim to be an insightful platform where clients turn to for the latest in tech.