On paper, Michael Lints is a stereotypical venture capitalist with a story we’ve all heard before. Formerly a technology entrepreneur in the Netherlands, he built a successful business – a data centre service – that got acquired in 2007, became seriously minted in the process (our words, not his) and decided that the funds would be put to good use helping other up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Today, he is a partner at Golden Gate Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm that focuses on investing in start-ups across Southeast Asia.
But Lints isn’t a stereotypical venture capitalist and his journey to success hadn’t always been smooth. From being teased at school because of the colour of his skin to receiving racist epithets in professional settings, racism is something Lints has had to face all his life, as had his parents. Now, one of his biggest wishes is to make sure his children do not have to face the same. “I want the next generation to not endure what previous generations had to,” he asserts.
In the office, he, along with his diverse team of colleagues, is doing his part to make that dream happen by giving budding entrepreneurs from all backgrounds the means to succeed. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that venture capital is only about money,” he says. That cannot be further from the truth. “Getting access to the right deals requires a lot of trust and alignment,” he points out. Beyond just providing funds, “the future of the industry will be dependent on the added value investors can bring”.
Out of the office, his fight against racism continues in the form of Broken Chains, a documentary that he is co-producing, which explores systemic racism and the policy gaps that reinforce it.
He may spend his working days talking money, but Lints is clearly motivated by a lot more than that. “I hope to inspire people through my work and leave a legacy for the next generation.”