Driving Innovation in ClimateTech and Web3 for a Better Future Joash Lee, 20-Year-Old Venture Partner at VNTR Capital Is Creating Buzz in ClimateTech and Web3 as He Hunts for the Next Game-Changing Unicorn
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Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey is akin to navigating a labyrinth with limited funds, fierce competition, and time constraints. Many founders run out of capital before finding product-market fit and are forced to close shop. Amid this sea of complexity, VCs emerge as crucial allies for entrepreneurs.
VCs play a crucial role in making a founder's idea a reality. Joash Lee, a Venture Partner at VNTR Capital, emphasizes their role in providing strategic guidance vital to accelerating growth.
"Beyond their financial backing, VCs are valued for the network, mentorship, and insights they bring, supporting the start-up's journey from zero to one," he tells Entrepreneur.
At 20 years of age, Joash holds a key role at VNTR Capital, a global investor community and syndicate with over 50,000 active investors across 40+ countries. He started his investment journey at 12, dabbling with fixed income, commodities, forex, derivatives, and stocks, before later joining Saison Capital, a Web3 and FinTech VC, which marked his debut in early-stage investing.
Joash wears many hats and is a "builder in the day, investor by night, and hospitality photographer in between." His transition from public to private markets reflects a rewarding shift, driven by the higher stakes, opportunity to work directly with founders, and ability to channel capital towards causes he cares about.
With a global investment background, his portfolio has yielded an annualized return of over 20% since inception. Joash invests in the ClimateTech and Web3 sectors, looking for founders with proven track records and start-ups with demonstrated traction.
Notably, one of his portfolio companies, Slack, was acquired by Salesforce in 2021. Joash is also an investor in several prominent start-ups, including Storyverse. Co-founded by Zynga's Justin Waldron and Michael Carter, Storyverse is a gaming and animation engine that allows writers to produce stories with licensed non-fungible tokens (NFTs). With over $100M in IP licensing, Storyverse is revolutionizing the Web3 storytelling and gaming space.
Joash believes businesses can concurrently do good and well, and governments alone will not solve climate change.
He states, "Solving the sustainability crisis is no easy feat and will require multi-stakeholder cooperation. The private sector will play a pivotal role in our transition to a sustainable economy, and 'profit with purpose' is entirely possible, but will require visionary leaders focused on winning in the long run."
Instead of viewing his age as a barrier, Joash says it is, in fact, an enabler that has helped him better understand things from different perspectives. For instance, he notes that over half of Gen Z is willing to pay a premium for sustainably produced products. Furthermore, his understanding of ClimateTech and Web3 in the Southeast Asian region has earned him the trust of founders and investors alike.
Joash was awarded the Global Recognition Awards in 2023 for his work in VC and contributions to the start-up ecosystem, and he is the youngest to be conferred a Certificate of Specialization in Strategy from Harvard Business School. Set to join Economist Impact's 3rd Annual Sustainability Week Asia in March 2024, he will be speaking in a panel on "Creating the Enabling Environment for ClimateTech Innovations," where he will explore how cross-sector collaboration could advance climate technologies to catalyse Asia's energy transition and dampen global warming.
Moving into the new year, Joash foresees venture funding will pick up. Sustainability will become increasingly important as the uptake in disclosures surge, we see deeper integrations with balance sheets, and shareholders put pressure on the triple bottom line. He also thinks two biggest inhibitors to the widespread adoption of Web3 are the lack of consumer education and stigma associated due to negative press driven by the actions of a few nefarious players, but as these are overcome, Web3 will disrupt traditional industries.
"I think we'll eventually reach a point we don't even know we're interacting with blockchain," he says.Beyond his investment endeavors, Joash founded JOASH_L, a creative agency specializing in hospitality photography, as well as Crimson Press Service, the world's first and only PR agency for high schoolers, under EdTech unicorn Crimson Education. There is no doubt Joash is a rising star to keep an eye on, successfully weaving threads of innovation, sustainability, and purpose for a better future.