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Being an entrepreneur in today’s world means being brave, bold, and having the intent and mental fortitude to break down barriers that exist in industry. Forward-thinking, innovation, and a touch of calculated risk are the fires that fan the flames of ambition for those prepared to stick their necks out and become part of the revolution.
In parallel, technological advances and breakthroughs happen at break-neck speed. Fusing those pioneering adventurers and their ideas with today’s real world is venture capitalism. Step forward, free thinker, serial entrepreneur, and barrier-breaker Kanin Asvaplungprohm (“Asva”).
Kanin is the brain behind Robust, an early-stage venture capitalist that straddles the technological gap between North America and Southeast Asia through a commitment to better humanity by championing paradigm-shifting technologies—essentially, having the knack of backing tomorrow’s forward-thinkers today.
The Comeback Kid
But Kanin’s ascent and his ambitions may have floundered had he not survived a near-death experience as a child. That event has formed his mental resilience and the backbone to drive and survive through the choppy waters of business.
“I drowned when I was ten, and it emotionally traumatized me,” he reflects. “One minute, I was swimming in the pool underwater and passed out—next thing, I was being carried to the ER. A two-week stay in the ICU and a three-month rehab followed. Little did I realize that event would
be the ladder to self-resilience and mental fortitude. I have since built a reputation of never giving up.”
For many, that early trauma would have ended the idea of swimming, let alone ever going near water again. For Kanin, with his mom’s encouragement, he grasped the fear and ran with it. He said: “I had actually grown up swimming competitively. I ended up in the top echelon of long-distance swimmers in my district”.
“My mom, my North Star, encouraged me to get back into the water and break that fear. From that point on, I went back to competitive swimming. But I didn’t stop there. I wanted to shatter my fear of drowning, so I learned to scuba dive and became PADI open-water certified.”
Breaking the Mold
That drive to succeed continued to fuel Kanin’s formative years. Born in Asia and having spent his childhood in Bangkok, Thailand, he pushed the boundaries again when he was just 18 years old; this time, deciding to move to California to pursue his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
Having completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Science from the University of California, followed by his Master’s Degree in Financial Analysis from the University of San Francisco, he graduated summa cum laude.
Kanin’s career excelled, marked by successes at positions he held at domestic and overseas companies, including in Bangkok. But naturally, he wanted more. Wise, if wrong, words of advice from a former colleague that he wouldn’t amount to much on his own only piqued his determination to be independent.
He founded Robust and has quickly become one of the very few to successfully launch a fund that straddles South East Asia and North America, putting him in the top echelons of specialist fund managers. Despite the nay-sayers that poured doubt on the idea. And against the turmoil of the markets and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I founded Robust because I wanted to make an impact,” he said. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and I want to prove something to the world. Many think I had startup capital from my family, but I didn’t. In fact, they embraced my idea of wanting to make it on my own. And even if they had offered to invest, I would refuse at this stage.”
“It was hard to start Robust, but it was important to me to validate the concept by raising outside capital first to prove I could do it. I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve been ridiculed for taking on such an ambitious task. But those same people don’t know what I’m made of.”
Robust in Business
Being an entrepreneur means having an eye for something the market may have missed. In January 2022, against the background of the pandemic continuing to cause chaos in the markets, the older workforce began to make early retirement possible. Conversely, more people began starting their own ventures, betting on themselves, or transitioning to remote freelance work.
That desire to build resonated with Kanin, who saw an opportunity to begin his own venture but still wanted to rely on his investment prowess. He was already an entrepreneur, having plowed time into Dynafolio, a small-cap investment firm, which returned an average of 25% annually for the three years he managed it.
Kanin landed on an idea for a venture that would help and benefit from the success of other entrepreneurs. He wanted to focus on and support entrepreneurs in various technological spaces, a program that identifies tomorrow’s winners. Kanin desired to encourage and promote helpful technological advancement through meticulously crafted and heavily analyzed investment portfolios, all while generating strong returns for the firm and its investors; that’s when Robust took flight.
“Every investor wants to discover the next billion-dollar company, but it requires someone who can see beyond the noise, and I am that person,” Kanin adds.
Robust may not be a year old, but Kanin has already asserted his steadfast determination to create tangible value. Robust is also rapidly building an excellent track record, having already co-invested with and gained respect from industry titans.
His primary focus is to establish Robust’s reputation among high-profile and institutional investors interested in early-stage companies. Kanin also wants his venture capital firm to stand above the rest in how they partner with entrepreneurs and investors. Put the entrepreneur first, and offer true insight and guidance to improve and sustainably scale the venture.
Kanin has a keen eye for underdeveloped and under-capitalized markets. When working with him, you’re working with a partner who knows the ins and outs of international business and has a finger on the pulse of the best new-frontier technologies. His insight into technological innovations and startup culture, as his investment prowess and experience shows, make Robust a force to be reckoned with.
Having the Grit to Succeed
Kanin’s hard work ethic over the years is borne from messing with the DNA of adversity. Stemming from his childhood drowning incident and the drive to bounce back, he knows there’s no room for quitting or giving in.
He spent years dedicated to strength training, swimming and building the radar-like focus to finish a long-distance race, all have proved to be long-lasting life lessons that he still draws on today.
For the past decade, Kanin has been a keen crossfitter and even trains his friends as a hobby. “Weightlifting and swim practice have given me consistency, discipline, and mental fortitude,” he says. “These values have given me the meticulous attention to detail that colleagues think make me a great investor and risk controller. I know how to play the long game, which translates well into investing. I go through every detail with a fine-tooth comb; I get a buzz from structuring and negotiating complex transactions.”
Powering through the pain of the burn in his chosen sports is akin to the drive to see through an investment while everyone around you is throwing doubt.
Robust derives its name from the resilience and unwavering commitment to innovators and companies that withstand challenges to bring their cutting-edge ideas to reality. It also refers to the strength of a statistical model; robust statistics yield good performance when data is drawn from a wide range of probability distributions. Simply put, a model is robust if the output and forecasts are consistently accurate, even if one or more assumptions change.
That’s why Kanin draws on his favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”
Kanin is a man who pushes through the barricades, having the grit and self-belief to overcome failure. Swimming against the tide, grasping fear, shaking it, and never allowing himself to be undermined by doubters. Resilient in life, solid by nature, and Robust in business; that’s Kanin Asva.