A Successful Venture Capitalist On Excellence, Entrepreneurship And Empowerment

Kanin Asva is the founder and general partner of Robust, an avantgarde venture capital firm that works with innovators

By Shishir Jajoo

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Thai-born, US-bred Kanin Asvaplungprohm (Asva) is the founder and general partner of Robust, an avantgarde venture capital firm that works with innovators to bring their concepts to reality and disrupt the industries they are in.

Robust, barely a year old, has already established its stature as a force to be reckoned with and gained traction, thanks to Asva's relentless drive and formidable work ethic. Under his stewardship, Robust has secured deals to back two groundbreaking companies: Offsight, a project management software company that boosts productivity in modular construction, and Symbiome, a R&D-focused life sciences brand that stands at the forefront of microbiome research.

With a presence in New York, San Francisco and Bangkok, Robust is underpinned by an experienced network of industry veterans, strategic experts and dynamic operators. With decades of combined experience, they regularly collaborate to support founders.

Having helped manage over $200 million prior to launching Robust, Asva exists in rarified air. He is one of few early-stage venture capitalists to singlehandedly launch a fund straddling the diverse cultures of North America and southeast Asia.

VC firms are a dime-a-dozen nowadays, but Asva offers a novel approach. Instead of the swift 'spray-and-pray' method of capital deployment that overtook early-stage investing at the market's peak in 2021, Robust is exceptionally selective in its partnerships. Asva said: "As a small fund, we must de-risk the portfolio and generate alpha by optimizing for quality."

Asva employs this laser-like precision in every endeavor he undertakes, big or small. From ideation to portfolio construction, design, branding and communications, the execution and quality are peerless. When asked why, he calmly but confidently remarks: "Because how you do anything is how you do everything. This is caliber at which Robust operates."

Entrepreneurship runs in Kanin's blood. His grandfather and father have worked as successful businessmen in Thailand for over six decades, and the entrepreneurial spirit came full circle with the creation of Kanin's Robust.

On many levels, the word 'robust' is key to Kanin's existence. His path was not smoothly paved. To understand his ethos, Kanin looks back to the age of ten when he survived a drowning incident and turned that around to become a long-distance swimmer. His fear of water was further extinguished when he became a PADI-certified scuba diver.

He moved to the US at the green age of 18, completed a bachelor's degree in management science at the University of California San Diego and then his master's degree in financial analysis from the University of San Francisco, summa cum laude.

Early in his career, Asva held positions in Thailand and the US. He spearheaded risk management for Marwin Technologies, a provider of meterological and environmental technology in Thailand. Kanin has held positions with Bangkok Bank, Econ One Research and Dynafolio, a small-cap US private equity firm primarily focused on turning around distressed companies. Kanin then became a Venture Partner at emerging fund Oyster.

Robust came as the confluence of Asva's desire to seek his own direction in business, the challenges of the markets and the pandemic, and those that doubted his vision. That's why he seeks to further technological advancement by backing visionaries who have the singular determination to bring their concepts to life.

Asva added: "We gravitate towards independent thinkers solving complex economic, logistical, scientific, and engineering problems. Robust wants to champion transformational technologies for the betterment of humanity. We partner at inception and lend support through the lifecycle of the company."

"The harsh reality is most startups fail," Asva remarks. "Based on historical data, there is a .00006% chance of building a billion-dollar company, hence the 'unicorn' designation". He adds: "It requires pattern recognition, grit, willingness on investors' part to roll-up their sleeves, a dash of luck and timing."

Asva fervently believes that his trademark mix of traditional Asian sensibilities, Silicon Valley savvy and global vision, coupled with his operational, managerial, and financial prowess equip him with the ability to identify, and more importantly, nurture enterprises with unicorn potential. "I know a thing or two about beating the odds and never giving up," Asva remarked.

In addition to investing, Kanin is broadening Robust's scope further through the upcoming launch of Robust Research, a publication designed to empower humanity with knowledge.

Robust Research will democratize access to information by publishing essays, white papers and reports on emerging trends in venture capital and other areas in collaboration with the best and brightest minds. "Like everything we do, Robust Research adheres to the highest editorial standards," he adds.

When asked about the synergy, Asva shares: "The mission of Robust is to push the technological envelope for the benefit of humanity. Similarly, Robust Research exists to impart knowledge"

Asva concludes: "It's all about empowerment – that's the common ground."

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