TECHINASIA: Recently landed in Singapore, Russian venture capital Life.Sreda today announced it has hired Huawei’s former global head of operations and COO of cloud business Victor Chow as CEO of its InspirAsia startup accelerator. From his new position, he will be overseeing accelerator development and the launch of the acceleration program.
He will also be responsible for seeking partners across Asia in territories such as South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. InspirAsia will reach out to fintech startups throughout these territories via meetings, pitch days, and interviews, leading up to the program’s kickoff in September of this year. “It’s a challenging task, and we feel that it’s the right kind of challenge for Victor,” Vladislav Solodkiy, managing partner at Life.Sreda tells Tech in Asia.
“I believe my past global business experience in the technology and financial services space, coupled with startup experience and previously with Startupbootcamp Fintech would be useful and relevant [to the startups joining the program],” Chow said in a statement. So far, the accelerator has heard from about 30 fintech-related startups that wish to participate in the program.
“Victor has a huge experience in startup acceleration [and a] deep understanding of local markets and venture expertise,” Solodkiy says of Chow’s selection for the position of CEO. “He has over 28 years of experience in the telecommunications, financial services, education, and IT industries.” Chow’s business expertise and industry credentials will prove essential in this new role, according to Solodkiy.
In its latest incarnation in Singapore, Life.Sreda will open the door to Asian startups that are in post-seed or series A stage and are working in fintech and ecommerce projects. The first batch will include 20 to 30 startups and will run for 90 days. The accelerator will invest US$50,000 and US$300,000 for a five to 15 percent equity stake in each startup, depending on the company’s size, and US$200,000 in support services.
The accelerator will also provide mentorship from figures in fintech and finance, both from the region and worldwide, such as 9senses managing partner Reggy de Feniks, Pinsent Masons MPillay partner Bryan Tan, RodVenture founder Roderick Chia, and co-founder/CEO of Marvelstone Partners Gina Heng.
Life.Sreda will facilitate the participating startups’ relocation to Singapore. As part of the program, the startups will have access to technology and business partners, together with training, office space, and administrative support. Businesses that graduate from the program will present the fruit of their labors on an “Investor Day”, which will take place in December. The most successful ones will be able to present their product at conferences like Finnovate and Money2020 in the US and will get more fundraising opportunities.
With InspirAsia, Life.Sreda hopes to initially locate startups working on proven models from other markets. Ideas like mobile payments, mPOS, and online acquiring, online lending, and scoring, are high on the list. “But it is also important [to note] that due to country peculiarities and cultural context, a simple copying and pasting of Western startups doesn’t work in Asian countries,” says Anna Yanchevskaya, head of PR for Life.Sreda. This results in new, local startups with novel ideas and approaches. “For these reasons, in the past year, many foreign investors were actively investing in Chinese, Thai and Malaysian startups. They see a huge growth potential in these markets.”
“We’ve divided Asian markets into three segments,” Solodkiy adds. Mature markets like Singapore and Hong Kong have the infrastructure in place to make full use of fintech ideas. Then there are emerging markets like Malaysia and Thailand, as well as markets like Indonesia, Myanmar, and Cambodia, where the use of credit cards is not as widespread yet, which presents lots of opportunities. “Our strategy is to start in ASEAN, while investing in China and India in parallel to our efforts in ASEAN,” he explains.
Life.Sreda’s worldwide portfolio of startups includes startups like mPOS company LifePay, mobile apps builder My-Apps, and restaurant mobile payments service Settle, as well as German online bank Fidor Bank and British fintech fund Anthemis.