When it comes to making investments and providing capital for start-ups to flourish, these activities are usually performed by seasoned venture capitalists, not students. But the opposite is true for Protégé Ventures, which was initiated by the Singapore Management University’s Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (SMU IIE) in collaboration with Kairos Asean, a community of entrepreneurs.

Since its inception in 2017, the student-led venture capital (VC) firm has made several early-stage investments. These include mental health tech company Intellect, recruitment tech company TalentTribe; education tech company Joni.AI; food waste management company Lumitics; social network company Rooit; and artificial intelligence platform provider Nurture.AI.

While the aim is, of course, to make money from these investments, Protégé Ventures has been a breeding ground for new recruits to be fed into the growing VC and start-up ecosystem. According to Jerald Low, managing partner of Protégé Ventures, 70% of its members who have graduated have joined VC firms such as Qualgro and Indonesia-based MDI Ventures. Among the 70%, some have also joined start-ups, such as Grab, Shopee and ShopBack, he adds.

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