Oct. 6, 2021

UVC: Adrian Li from AC Ventures on parallels between triathlons and startups, being a venturepreneur and his ‘barbell balance’ technique for work-life balance

UVC: Adrian Li from AC Ventures on parallels between triathlons and startups, being a venturepreneur and his ‘barbell balance’ technique for work-life balance

Understanding VC is a deep dive on how Venture Capitalists work. In this episode, I talk to Adrian Li, Founder and Managing Partner at AC Ventures. Adrian is a venture capitalist amongst many other things, who has ample entrepreneurial experience, and prefers the tag of being a venturepreneur. He has acquired intensive business experience in Indonesia and China, which he shares with us in this episode. Adrian also divulges his “barbell balance” technique for work-life balance, and reveals a fascinating analogy between triathlons and startups based on his hybrid experience of being an investor, an entrepreneur, as well as an athlete.


This episode will answer:

  • Why is Adrian drawn to developing markets like China and Indonesia? What role does technology play here?
  • What motivated Adrian to develop Idapted, a one-on-one English test preparation platform for Chinese students? What were some of the challenges he faced in the process?
  • What is Adrian’s science of hiring, and what inspires it?
  • Why does Adrian refer to himself as a “Venturepreneur”?
  • What is AC Academy? How does AC Ventures aim to  educate entrepreneurs through it?
  • Why doesn't Adrian endorse the Chinese 996 work culture?
  • What is Adrian’s Barbell Strategy to achieve work-life balance?
  • How does Adrian compare a triathlon with the evolution of a startup? What are the ways to reach the finishing line?
  • What is Adrian’s perception of the Indonesian tech startup ecosystem, its qualities, and shortcomings?

About

Adrian Li is Founder and Managing Partner at AC Ventures, a merged fund between Agaeti Ventures and Convergence Ventures. ACV is an early stage Indonesia focused technology venture capital fund. ACV manages 3 funds with a portfolio of over 80 businesses. Some of their noteworthy investments include Payfazz, Koinworks, Julo, Carsome and M17. Previously, Adrian has also been the co-founder of several ventures in Indonesia and China. Adrian’s 1st Internet venture was Idapted where as CEO & cofounder he raised 2 rounds of venture financing and led the company to be the largest live one-on-one online English test preparation service  in China. Adrian is also passionate about non-profit work. He founded and chairs a UK Charity called CNYTrust, which supports children in rural China to continue schooling. He is a business mentor at several organisations including Endeavour, Founders Institute and Antler. He has served on the board of Entrepreneurs Organisation in several roles including Beijing Chapter President and Regional Communications Director. He is also a member of Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) in Indonesia. 

Being a master of several trades, Adrian is also a sponsored endurance athlete, ranked in top 5% in his age group for Ironman 70.3 distances. He has completed several marathons in New York, London, Tokyo and Beijing & triathlons including a full Ironman. Adrian graduated from Cambridge University with a BA and MA in Economics and MBA from Stanford while studying in the dual degree MBA & Education MA program. He is currently enrolled in the Tsinghua OBOR EMBA program. Additionally, he is a Kauffman Fellow in Class of ‘21. He speaks Mandarin and English fluently and is proficient in Cantonese and basic Bahasa.

Adrian Li Profile Photo

Adrian Li

Founder & Managing Partner at AC Ventures

Adrian Li is Founder and Managing Partner at AC Ventures, a merged fund between Agaeti Ventures and Convergence Ventures. ACV is an early stage Indonesia focused technology venture capital fund. ACV manages 3 funds with a portfolio of over 80 businesses. Some of their noteworthy investments include Payfazz, Koinworks, Julo, Carsome and M17. Previously, Adrian has also been the co-founder of several ventures in Indonesia and China. Adrian’s 1st Internet venture was Idapted where as CEO & cofounder he raised 2 rounds of venture financing and led the company to be the largest live one-on-one online English test preparation service in China. Adrian is also passionate about non-profit work. He founded and chairs a UK Charity called CNYTrust, which supports children in rural China to continue schooling. He is a business mentor at several organisations including Endeavour, Founders Institute and Antler. He has served on the board of Entrepreneurs Organisation in several roles including Beijing Chapter President and Regional Communications Director. He is also a member of Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) in Indonesia.

Being a master of several trades, Adrian is also a sponsored endurance athlete, ranked in top 5% in his age group for Ironman 70.3 distances. He has completed several marathons in New York, London, Tokyo and Beijing & triathlons including a full Ironman. Adrian graduated from Cambridge University with a BA and MA in Economics and MBA from Stanford while studying in the dual degree MBA & Education MA program. He is currently enrolled in the Tsinghua OBOR EMBA program. Additionally, he is a Kauffman Fellow in Class of ‘21. He speaks Mandarin and English fluently and is proficient in Cantonese and basic Bahasa.