Veem recently disclosed receiving an additional USD24 Million in new funding. The sum of investments from National Australia Bank, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, SBI Investments Co Ltd, and Silicon Valley Bank will be allotted for expansion into more countries and addition of new products.
The money remittance company formerly known as Align Commerce processes several hundreds of millions of cross border businesses including OFW payments in over 60 countries. Veem has offices in three continents. Founded by Filipino techpreneur Aldo Carrascoso in 2014, the reliable and real time system of sending and receiving payments via email is designed to replace the complex and costly telegraphic transfers, wire systems and SWIFT, by bypassing the banks, or the middlemen. “I didn’t like the way traditional remittance companies preyed on OFWs and small business. The only choices they had charge large fees, make the process harder and more complicated,” Carrascoso reasons. Veem uses a combination of proprietary multirail payment systems and the blockchain, described as one of the fastest growing areas for tech investment.
“We started in my garage in Westlake, Daly City,” says Carrascoso, who recalls creating his first line of code when he was in fourth grade. “Technology has always been a passion. I was born in a very tech forward family where technology was part of our everyday lives. I have always been fascinated by technology and how it affected people around me,” he continues.
Recognizing that people is crucial to growing businesses, Carrascoso took up Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University before flying to Boston for the Babson Entrepreneurship program. “One of my key deliverables for grad school was a tech startup, that was when my first venture started, which was verego.com, a matchmaking service, a tinder for companies,” he narrates. His other startup, Jukin Media / Jukin Technologies is now one of the largest user-generated licensing platforms in the world, currently in 221 markets, servicing nearly every major television network with content, and has over 35 billion views online.
“What has guided me consistently was my purpose, which is improving the lives of people through technology. All my startups were always about making the process easier for large trends that were taking place,” he points out.
Throughout all his business dealings in the US, Carrascoso emphasizes that he would constantly find ways to refer to his ties to the Philippines, whether by mentioning the country in his speaking engagements or by hiring Filipinos as employees.
“Filipinos have the creative chops so my vision for the Philippines is for it to be a global hub for creative innovation, for it to be the first to come to mind when creative technological innovation is needed,” he describes.
He is very eager to share what he has learned in Silicon Valley with young Filipinos who want to enter the tech industry. He is active in the Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC) in Silicon Valley which seeks to elevate Philippine-based start-ups and try to give them real world Silicon Valley type of training. He also works with Philippine local organizations to promote entrepreneurship and bring the Silicon Valley type of thinking to the Philippines. Furthermore, he is in collaboration with a number of universities on various curriculum, mentoring, and workshop programs.
Speaking from experience, Aldo reveals that Silicon Valley investors are always very, very busy. They know if you are wasting their time and you will be destroyed if you do that. “We all practice something called OHD – open, honest, and direct. A lot of them are former technologists and very specialized. They know the ins and outs of the topic you are trying to pitch so they can smell B.S. a mile away”. But Aldo assures that the investors are very active in helping the businesses succeed and will open a lot of doors. “Oh and they dress down big time. In hoodies, usually. So people often say that if you walk into Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers offices in a suit, you’re a newbie,” he chuckles.
His tips to anyone who wants to do a startup: “focus on execution, vet and form the right team, do large disruption rather than incremental improvements and surround yourself with a good support system of mentors and investors”.