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Executive Interview
Aaron Sarma
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   Executive Interviews   
An Interview with
Aaron Sarma
ScaleUp Malaysia
Co-Founder & General Partner

ScaleUp Malaysia is an accelerator that focuses exclusively on growth-stage companies in Malaysia – helping them position their business for exponential growth. ScaleUp Malaysia was founded by a team of experienced entrepreneurs, professionals, and seasoned investors. Championing the concept of building "Pegasus" companies of building fast-growing, profitable businesses, ScaleUp Malaysia companies go through a program that includes in-class training, one-to-one coaching, and equity investment for selected companies.


Since 2019, ScaleUp Malaysia has built a proven track record in helping growth-stage companies secure funding from leading investors. Thus far, over 30 startups have graduated out of the accelerator, collectively showing a multiple of invested capital of 3.6x in under 3 years and one exit.

Publish Date: 
9 December 2022

Tell us about your background, and how you came to found your company?

I'm an entrepreneur, investor and speaker with experience in technology, digital media and retail.

In 2015, I founded Touristly (which later rebranded to Vidi) which sold to AirAsia in 2017. I served in the group in various capacities to develop travel3Sixty, BigLife and was COO of In 2019, he joined the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation as a consultant to work on several national strategy papers.


In that same year I met with 5 other individuals who were entrepreneurs and ecosystem veterans. We wanted to make a difference and truly help founders in Malaysia build profitable and scalable businesses. Thats when ScaleUp Malaysia was born.


I currently serve as Co-Founder General Partner at ScaleUp Malaysia, an accelerator looking to help startups build and scale to the next level. ScaleUp Malaysia has announced investments in 30 companies and we have been recognised as one of the most active investors in South East Asia.


In 2020, I co-founded a venture builder called Remote Ventures that helps entrepreneurs get from zero to one by providing technology support and seed funding. Remote Ventures has powered the launch of startups in entertainment, education, fitness and logistics.


I'm passionate about technology and its role in shaping society.

What is most important to you and your organization – mission, vision, or core values? Why?

Our mission is to find and support the best entrepreneurs in Malaysia and South East Asia. We believe there's a lot of latent potential in emerging ASEAN and we are passionate about being a catalyst in helping these founders achieve their full potential.


We aim to fund 50 companies by 2024 and uncover at least 5 unicorns trough empowering these companies. We believe that the right intervention in terms of capital, education and networks are critical in helping a startup go from 1 to 100.

Can you explain briefly how your service(s)/product(s) works?

At our core we are a venture capital company. We invest in companies that work with us an we make a return only when these companies are able to IPO or exit the business through a merger or acquisition. This way our interests are aligned.


A key component of what we do is that we also provide an accelerator program for all our companies. The program imparts best practices to help founders with ther financial forecasting, market validation, product development, business modelling and eventually to raise from other investors.


We also provide a 1-1 coaching program to help our founders get personalised support to help their businesses with their specific needs. Our founders effectively have a a c-level team they can call upon when needed to help them grow their business.

How has the industry been changing in recent years?

The last few years have been a roller coaster period for the startup ecosystem in the region. We've seen a lot of growth in terms of government support in the region as well as capital from the private sector. Founding a startup is also very much a viable career option for would be entrepreneurs with the access to support from the public and private sectors.


That said the economic slowdown we have seen in 2022 and the one we are bracing for in 2023 is adding a level of scrutiny on the ecosystem. What this has done is create an enviroment ripe for good entrepreneurs to emerge. Gone are the days of astronomical valuations based on flawed logic. The focus over the next 24 months will be value creation and profitability.


For this reason its a great time to be an investor and to find nascent businesses that can change the regional landscape in the next decade.

What makes you different from what’s currently available in the market?

There are clearly other venture capital firms and accelerator firms in the market. What gives us a distinction is that we are founded by entrepreneurs who have gone through the ringer of founding a company. This has created a thought process that has resulted in our high touch, high impact program.


We don't invest unless we believe we can add value.

What does the future hold for your company?

We are looking to grow and expand what we do further. ScaleUp is scaling up.


We see tremendous opportunity in the region with many entrepreneurs who are looking for seed stage capital and support. We are looking to find partners in the region who want to work with us to make this happen.


The future is indeed really exciting and we hope to play a role in building it with the best and brightest founders in ASEAN.



Aaron Sarma

Supplementary Information

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