Interview:How to grow SriLankan entrepreneurship in the USA

May 29, 2019 (LBO) – Insaaf Mohideen, is a Sri Lanka born American entrepreneur and investor who has seen his career spanned across the fields of technology, entrepreneurship and eventually investment banking in Silicon Valley over the past two decades.

Mohideen has been actively involved in relief and aid efforts across the world including a highly tactical and dangerous human rescue effort to the Rakhine State of Myanmar to help rescue thousands of the Rohingya people. He has also been involved in similar efforts in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, parts of Latin America and Africa.

Visiting his motherland recently he spoke with team LBO about his work and humanitarian efforts….

  1. Was it difficult as a Sri Lankan to set up shop in the US; What are the challenges in particular you faced?

The obvious disadvantage was the lack of pre-existing relationships and connections. Your starting from scratch. However, the beauty of America is that anyone can make it or lose it all. Anyone armed with persistence and perseverance is tipped to succeed. The lack of systemic corruption helps ordinary migrants like myself benefit from the vast resources and opportunities available to those in the highest echelons of society. I had my first startup in my second year of University in the US.

  • Please explain your role as Chief Investment Officer of one leading International souring funds and tech funds?

Being in the Tech Entrepreneurial space, it was very logical for me to be one of the early adopters/investors/miners of alternate currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lite Coin etc. That coupled with my extensive successes in the Financial Technology space landed me a role as the Chief Investment Officer for a multi-billion-dollar Fin-Tech portfolio at the one of the largest Sovereign Funds based out of Europe. My role is to identify and maintain a portfolio of investments in various high yield assets and instruments that consistently outperform the market wiled protected against the downside risk.

  • Explain your involvement in startup of the Silicon Valley…

Since college I’ve had the entrepreneurial bug in me. After a string of successful and failed startups, there was a natural progression to mentoring and investing in new entrepreneurs. As a result, I’ve mentored and/or seed funded over 200 startups in the past 21 years. These investments have spanned across some of the biggest successes and failures in dotcom, social media, big data, financial technology and more recently alternate currencies.

  • Moving to Sri Lanka, are we on the right path

Sri Lanka was on an amazing ride up until a few weeks ago. We were a destination spot for travel, cuisine, and foreign investments. I would like to think the events of the past month are just a road bump that we will get past quickly. But we have significant challenges in navigating strategically past the chaos of communal strife compounded by corruption, chaos, lack of accountability, and most importantly the lack of leadership.

  • Would you like to comment on the recent communal/terrorist attacks?

These recent events are very unfortunate. But they clearly highlight the lack of political accountability and leadership; the finger pointing, corruption, meddling with governance and the judiciary process, disunity and political maneuvering even in this time of need is disappointing. It’s time to put party politics aside and do what’s best for our country. We need a leader who can deliver on security, unity, and continued social/economic/urban reform.