Summary of MHV x Glints: The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

The report was commissioned by Monk’s Hill Ventures in partnership with Glints, a regional tech-focused recruitment firm. This article is a summary of the comprehensive findings in the report, please find the report here.

Report Methodology: 

  1. In-depth Interviews and C-suite compensation data survey of 20 over founders mainly in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam
  2. Compensation data for non-executive roles was from Glints’ senior recruiters, combined with Glints’ proprietary database of 1,000 data points for tech startup roles. Glints’ complete database contains over 1 million tech talent and 34,000 companies in SEA. 
  3. The survey was conducted with over 175 tech and non-tech talent working in startups.
  4. The dataset includes insights from Glints’ business leaders and other MHV portfolio companies.
  5. All compensation data is in USD.

Key takeaways from data and founder interviews: 

  1. Cash remuneration is still dominating but things are changing
    • Fewer than 32% of surveyed participants were compensated in equity 
    • The ecosystem in SEA still needs more time to mature and have more exits before equity is valued.
  2. Startups look to increase competitiveness in retaining and attracting talents using a variation of remuneration methods below:
    • Offering Annual Wage Supplements (AWS)
    • Bonuses
    • Restricted Stock Units (RSU)
    • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP)
  3. Technical roles are highly sought after with attractive remuneration but SEA lacks the supply of tech talents
    • Technical roles (product, data science, engineering) earned 54% more than non-technical roles (marketing, operations, sales, finance)
    • Within technical roles, supply of specialized product and data science talents are still lacking with these roles having 1-2x higher base salary than non-technical roles. (The gap were the smallest in Indonesia as compared to Singapore and Vietnam)
    • Vietnam has the largest salary differences between senior and junior roles.
  4. Regional distribution of talent can benefit startups
    • Remote work is the new normal with founders implementing hybrid workplace solutions and 100% work from home policies. There is also an emergence of founders building completely remote teams in other countries with the lack of tech talent supply in the region.
    • Given the wide range of salaries across SEA, startups can take advantage of the diversity of skill sets and compensation benchmarks to tap on regional talents.

C-Suite Compensations:

CEO & CTO Base Compensation

Across the region, the median compensation of CEO and CTO starts at $2,600 and $3,300 respectively and increases as the startup raises more funding.

Figure 1: Base monthly salary (USD) for CEOs  & CTOs by Funding Stage

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

Diving into CEO compensation at the $0-$5M funding stage, 55% of startups compensate the CEO with a monthly base salary of $1,000 to $3,000. Specifically, 32% of the CEOs were remunerated between $1,000 to $2,000 and 23% of the CEOs received a monthly salary between $2,000 to $3,000. Referring to Figure 1, at the $5-$10M range, there was a bump in salary by an average of 1.3x for both CEOs and CTOs to $6,000 and $7,550 respectively. Finally, at the $10-$50M stage, CEO & CTO received $11,250 and $12,400 monthly compensation respectively.

Due to the fact that most startups view CTOs as a scarce valuable asset and CTOs have lower equity ownership of the company, CTOs were consistently paid higher than CEOs across all funding rounds.

CEO & CTO Equity Compensation

Figure 2: Breakdown of CEOs base compensation at the $0-$5M Funding Stage

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

As shown in Figure 2 above, CEOs generally have the highest equity ownership across all funding stages even after accounting for dilution. On average, at the $0-$5M funding stage, CEOs had 51% of ownership while the CTO had 19%. In terms of dilution, CEOs also tend to be diluted more as they have higher equity ownership. Referring to Figure 2, CEOs saw an average dilution to 6% ownership, while CTOs saw an average dilution to 2% when the startup raises more than $50M.

Technical Roles Compensations:

1) Engineers

With the proliferation of tech & digitalization, it is not surprising that engineering roles were the most in-demand role across the region with one of the highest remunerations.

Engineers were categorized by experience level (Junior/Senior) and roles (Frontend, Backend, Fullstack Developers, DevOps, Mobile, and Software engineers). In addition, Vietnam’s engineers were paid a median of 2.5x more than Indonesia’s engineers. In Singapore, Fullstack Developers & Software Engineers had a higher remuneration than other engineering roles.

Figure 3: Starting salary of various Junior Engineers roles (USD)

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

The base monthly salary of junior engineers varies widely between different roles, experience, and stage of startups.

  • Indonesia: $300 – $1,700,
  • Vietnam: $600 – $2,800, 
  • Singapore: $2,200 – $7,100

Figure 4: Starting salary of various Senior Engineers roles (USD)

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

Similarly, Senior engineer’s base salary also varies widely with different roles, years of experience, and stage of startups. 

  • Indonesia: $1,400 – $2,800,
  • Vietnam: $2,000 – $4,000, 
  • Singapore: $3,500 – $11,000

Please refer to the report for a detailed salary breakdown of engineers.

2) Product Management

Product Managers are one of the most in-demand roles in SEA. The report found that product managers of products with higher technical capabilities tend to be compensated more than positions demanding fewer technical skills. Notably, product roles in Indonesia were paid double than non-tech roles, and 23% more than engineering roles. The monthly compensation of the positions below varies with years of experience, positions, and stage of startups.

Figure 5: Starting salary of Junior PM & UI/UX Designers (USD)

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

Junior Product Managers & UI/UX Designer: 

  • Indonesia: $300 – $1,200
  • Vietnam: $700 – $2,200
  • Singapore: $1,500 – $5,900

Figure 6: Starting salary of Senior PM & UI/UX Designers (USD)

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

Senior Product Managers & UI/UX Designers:

  • Indonesia: $1,000 – $3,000
  • Vietnam: $2,000 – $5,000
  • Singapore: $3,000 – $7,000

Please refer to the report for a detailed salary breakdown of PM & UI/UX Designers.

3) Data Science

With the proliferation of technology comes large amounts of data. Data science was ranked 3rd most in-demand role after engineering and product. Regional hiring managers ranked machine learning and data science as valuable skill sets. Singapore continues to be a hub for data scientists with a larger talent pool and high-tech infrastructure.

Figure 7: Starting salary of Junior Data Scientists (USD)

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

Starting monthly salary of Junior Data Scientists: 

  • Indonesia: $1,000 – $1,300
  • Vietnam: $1,000 – $2,000 
  • Singapore: $2,500 – $5,500

Figure 8: Starting salary of Senior Data Scientists (USD)

Source: Monk’s Hill Ventures, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report

Starting monthly salary of Senior Data Scientists: 

  • Indonesia: $1,400 – $2,300
  • Vietnam: $2,000 – $5,000 
  • Singapore: $3,500 – $8,500

Non-Technical Roles Compensation:

1) Marketing & PR

Growth is one of the most important keywords in a startup and with growth comes the importance of Marketing & PR. Marketing and PR can be categorized into Growth, Product, Brand marketing, and PR & Communications.

In Singapore, the base salary for the different marketing functions is similar at $3,000 to $5,600 for junior positions. At the junior level, growth marketers were compensated the highest as they require more technical expertise ($3,700 – $5,600) followed by product marketers ($3,000 – $5,500). However, at the senior level, Product marketing & PR led the pack at $9000 – $12,000 and $4,500 to $11,000 respectively.

Takeaways on building culture in scaling startups from MHV portfolio founders:

1) Structuring and conveying clear cultural values & mission of the organization early

Dorothea Koh, Co-Founder & CEO of Bot MD

We have codified our cultural values and mission into a simple one-page document … even though we only have 15 people on the team, because it is a lot harder to change culture of the company as you grow”

Roshini Mahtani, Founder & Group CEO of theAsianparent

It’s not necessary about the culture of the company but the mission… People work for a purpose and not just for the salary”

2) Retaining talent by hiring the right people from the get-go

Osward Yeo, Co-Founder & CEO of Glints

We found that team members started to bring in like-minded people from a cultural values perspective, and this became a positive talent flywheel in itself … 50% of our performance evaluation is based on demonstration of cultural values”

Dorothea Koh, Co-Founder & CEO of Bot MD

Retaining talent is simple. Build a high performing environment where everyone genuinely enjoys coming to work, loves what they do…”

3) Competing for talent with growth & learning opportunities against big tech companies

Lai Chang Wen, Co-Founder & CEO of Ninja Van

“… We tend to focus more on growth and learning to retain graduate talent.”

Oswald Yeo, Co-Founder & CEO of Glints

“ A big part of our strategy is to go where others haven’t gone, but where there is great talent… We try to compete based on the learning and experience the talent stands from joining us”


To sum it up, there is a high demand for talents with technical skills and specifically specialized tech skills such as machine learning and data science but the region lacks the supply of such talents. As a result of the high demand for tech talent in both startups and big tech companies, technical roles generally have a higher monthly compensation as compared to non-technical roles even at the C-suite level.

In terms of competing for tech talents with big-tech companies, startups should stay nimble and attract talents using their company’s mission, vision, values, and growth opportunities to attract like-minded highly capable talents. 

Please refer to the full report here for the comprehensive findings.

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