Emma Cui is the founding partner of LongHash Ventures. She sat down with Jessica Abo to discuss how the Singapore-based accelerator is raising $100 million to catalyze the growth of Web3 by investing in infrastructure.
Jessica Abo: Emma, can you tell us a little bit about LongHash Ventures?
LongHash Ventures is a Web3 native accelerator and VC fund. We’re based in Singapore, with a presence in China, India, Malaysia, and all the key hubs in Asia. The point of the accelerator and the fund is to collaborate together to invest into infrastructure layers in the Web3 space, and also leverage the accelerator to bootstrap an ecosystem for those infrastructure layers in Asia.
You recently announced a 100M Fund II. What are you looking to invest in in the future?
We’re very excited to announce this Fund II at this time because I think the market is down and it’s a good time for us to provide capital to projects that really need funding. Given how early Web3 is, we think there’s still a lot of need for a robust infrastructure to be built. So everyone has a taste of what decentralized applications could look like, what GameFi could look like, and what metaverse could look like. But the common problems they’re facing is once they start to have some users, the gas fees start to spike, a lot of the things can’t really be wired on chain, and the full potential of some of the applications just couldn’t be unleashed with today’s infrastructure.
And hence, over the next five years, we want to double down on infrastructure. This means we want to look at scaling solutions in the Ethereum ecosystem. We want to look at cross-chain solutions between various layer ones and layer twos. We want to look at interoperability frameworks that are being developed by Polkadot and Cosmos, so that for every application, everyone can spin off their layer one easily, and those layer ones are going to be purpose-built. We’re interested in the gaming marketplace in the gaming space. We’re interested in analytics in NFT.
What made you want to get into this space back in 2017?
It was definitely controversial when I decided to quit my McKinsey job and jump into Web3 because it was less known. And back then there were no usable applications. A lot of the projects people were funding were largely whitepapers and ideas. But I was really intrigued by the concept of smart contracts because before Mckinsey, I spent 6-7 years working in banks across mid-office, back office, and front office. And I really understand the inefficiencies, the reconsolidation, the middleman problem that the banks are facing. So I thought it totally makes sense to have a technological solution to automate a lot of those processes and get rid of the middleman. So that’s a reason I started to look deeper into crypto and smart contracts.
You’re one of the rare VCs that also runs an accelerator. Can you tell us more about the LongHash accelerator and the role you see that playing?
We’re really the first Web3-focused accelerator, and today we’ve grown to be one of the leading ones in Asia as well. And we managed to build a pretty extensive network as well as crypto knowledge to help early-stage projects accelerate and scale in a very scalable platform.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced?
Given how early this whole industry is, I think a lot of advocacy and education are required because I think for an average person who doesn’t work in this field or hasn’t interacted with any application in this world, you can read about some of the pretty negative news depending on the cycle. So I think some people, including some of my friends, decided, ‘Okay, crypto is all about pump and dump, and it’s all about money laundering, so it’s not worth looking into.’ So I think education to make people understand the potential of crypto and web three is really, really important to attract a lot more talent into the space.
Secondly is talent. Yes, I think there is still way more Web2 talent working at Facebook, Amazon, and a lot of the tech giants today. And I think I’m starting to see a lot of them becoming convinced about the potential of Web3 and coming to space. But I think there’s still so much demand. Every crypto Web3 company that I have talked to or we’ve funded is looking to hire more. So I would say insatiable desire to hire more talent into the space.
What advice would you give aspiring Web3 founders who are looking to start their own projects?
The first thing is you want to look for a big enough problem to solve, to make your time and effort worthwhile. And also make sure it’s something you are passionate about because there are a lot of days you’re going to feel crappy about it. So if you’re not passionate about it and do not drive, you’re not going to get through the hard days, the difficult days. Nobody has the skills and capability or resources to solve the problem alone. So you need to look for people who believe in your vision, and who can complement your skills and resources to help you achieve that vision.
And if you are able to convince people who’re smarter than you, who are more capable than you to join your journey, I think you are a very, very successful leader.
Finally, why do you think people should care about this space?
I think it’s the same question, ‘Why should you care about the Internet? Why should you care about technology?‘ Because like it or not, your life is going to be impacted by it. So you might as well embrace it, but I don’t think you can really get away from it. Just like how even my grandma today is ordering stuff on Grab or Deliveroo, I think everybody has to kind of evolve with technology, otherwise, you’re just not going to get along with life.