35 VC Firms Nurturing the Startup Ecosystem in Asia
By Elena Mesropyan for LTP
One of the regions that will lead the world into the next generation of financial technology innovation is Asia. Data suggests that investors poured $4.5 billion into FinTech companies in Asia in 2015, which is three times the amount attracted by their peers in Europe.
Asia, however, cannot be referred to as a homogeneous market since there are more than 20 countries in the region with own hallmarks and opportunities. Some of the most notable and massive markets noted as dominating the world of financial technology are China, Singapore and India. In fact, India is reported to be one of the fastest-growing startup environments in APAC region. The country has the second biggest startup ecosystem after China in deal size and number of deals.
But who exactly ensures the fertile ground for startups in the region and the leading position of Asia in the global FinTech scene? Let’s look at some of the most active VC funds supporting the startup ecosystem in Asia:
1823 Ventures is focused on mentoring and incubating up and coming startups in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Korea as well as venture capital fundraising and investment. Headquartered in Singapore, 1823 Ventures are actively looking for promising startups around the region including Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, China and Korea.
500 Startups is a leading global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator managing $200M in assets and having invested in 1300+ technology startups. Its early-stage seed fund and incubator program focused on consumer and SME Internet startups. The company’s areas of interest include financial services and e-commerce; search, social and mobile platforms; personal and business productivity; education and language; family and healthcare; and Web infrastructure.
Accel Partners has been committed to helping exceptional entrepreneurs build lasting, category-defining technology companies since 1983. Utilizing a focused, “prepared mind” approach to investing, the company partners with businesses that show potential for significant long-term success in specific sectors. Emphasizing synergy in its portfolio enables Accel Partners to offer the advantages of a cohesive, cooperative Accel community, including access to an extensive network of past and present entrepreneurs.
Alacrity Capital is a next-generation integrated venture capital firm based in Singapore that focuses on Pan-Asian-based startups which are passionate in developing commercially viable products and services encompassing new technology and innovation. For startups that are launched seed to series-A stage, Alacrity Capital aims to provide key investment from a pooled funding of angel and corporate investors.
Arbor Ventures is actively partnering with entrepreneurs and investors who are developing next-generation transactional solutions and seeks to transform today’s finance and data landscape through a combination of ingenuity and pragmatism. Lufax and DemystData are some of the notable FinTech companies in the portfolio.
Axiata is one of the leading telecommunications groups in Asia with over 300 million subscribers in ten countries. In 2012, Axiata established ‘Axiata Digital’ to capture the rapid growth in Internet-based businesses. Within three years, Axiata Digital has built a portfolio of 24 digital brands, servicing growing demands in mobile money, mobile advertising, e-commerce, entertainment and education.
In 2014, Axiata and Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP) have signed an agreement for the establishment of an RM100-million venture capital fund, the Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (ADIF). Representing the largest digital corporate venture capital fund in Malaysia, ADIF will encourage and spur the innovation and growth of Malaysia’s digital ecosystem.
Bigcolors supports and grows startups to make them the next superstar companies. They invest in seed funds and early-stage startups. Bigcolors has invested in companies like Connect, Kisshugs, Crux and Oddup. They also help startups grow by providing them strategy business development, financing and M&A expertise.
BlueHill Asset Management specializes in venture capital and private equity investments across strategic global markets. Based in Singapore, the management has been instrumental in raising funds of approximately S$470 million over the last four years.
Blume Ventures provides seed funding in the range of $50K–$250K to early-stage tech-focused/tech-enabled ventures. They are proponents of a collaborative approach and like to co-invest with like-minded angels and seed funds. They then provide follow-on investments to their stellar portfolio companies, ranging between $500K and $1.5 million.
Convergence Ventures is an early-stage technology venture fund focused on investing in Indonesia’s digital disruptors. The fund is led by Partners Adrian Li and Donald Wihardja who are seasoned professionals with extensive operating experience in the Internet and mobile businesses in emerging markets. Convergence leverages its industry insights, support services and global network to empower exceptional founders to build disruptive and impactful businesses for Indonesia and the South East Asia region.
CyberAgent Ventures is a venture capital firm headquartered in Tokyo. It has a presence in South Korea, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam and invests in startups in those countries. The firm provides financial support for startups specializing in the internet businesses. “Operating under the theme of being a partner for entrepreneurs and venture companies, we actively finance venture companies at various stages from the seed stage where entrepreneurs are just starting up their businesses to the early stages where their services are starting to gain momentum.” The firm has 10 offices in 8 countries mainly in Asia, a region where rapid growth of the Internet market is expected.
Digital Media Partners is a venture capital firm focused on emerging markets that have recently joined the global digital transformation process. Digital Media Partners believe that the arrival of high connectivity, processing power and interactivity results in an explosion of digital services, some of which are very much like those seen elsewhere before, and some unique to their locale.
East Ventures aims to bring success to ventures by providing early-stage seed capital to promising startups. With a total of five offices in Jakarta, Tokyo, and San Francisco, the company’s global team has invested in over 150 companies across Asia and the US. East Ventures’ portfolio of companies focuses on commerce, social, game, SAAS, and mobile services.
“Our investment team consists of experienced professionals that allow us to provide a strong network across Asia. East Ventures actively involves in community development and capacity building via its coworking spaces called EV Hive in Jakarta and Tangerang (Indonesia), and Hive Shibuya in Tokyo (Japan).”
Fenox Venture Capital is a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm founded by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs and international business leaders. Fenox VC works with emerging technology companies worldwide and specializes in assisting entrepreneurs in North America achieve global expansion in Asian, European and Middle Eastern markets. Fenox VC seeks to work with world-class management and technical teams that are targeting disruptive opportunities in IT, health IT, consumer Internet, cloud, big data, mobile, social, payment systems and next-generation technologies. Fenox provides early-stage and final-round funding and will also co-lead, follow and partner with other angel syndicates and venture funds.
First Eastern Investment Group
First Eastern Investment Group is a venture capital and private equity firm that specializes in the expansion stage. The firm seeks to invest in manufacturing, construction, financial and real estate industries. It prefers to invest in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The firm typically invests between $1 and $10 million and a minimum annual sale of $12 million is required for all portfolio companies. It also looks for a seat on the board of directors and a minor stake in the portfolio company. Monitise and Tamoco are in the investment portfolio.
Fresco Capital is an early-stage venture investor supporting exceptional entrepreneurs to build remarkable businesses. Based in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley, Fresco Capital operates globally with the most common headquarter locations being San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, New York and Austin.
General Atlantic is a global growth equity firm providing capital and strategic support for growth companies. FinTech companies in GA portfolio are represented by Adyen, Avant and Klarna. GA is looking for promising FinTech startups in Mumbai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and a variety of other locations. GA invests in early-stage and later-stage ventures, and private equity.
Gobi Partners was first established over 14 years ago to focus on home-grown innovation that was emerging from IT, TMT convergence and the digital media revolution in China. In these 14 years, the company has grown to be one of the leading early-stage investors in IT in China.
“Today, Gobi manages seven funds, and has grown to seven offices across China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. We maintain our investment focus on early-stage, IT and digital media companies in China and Southeast Asia. As a pioneer in this field, we believe that the key to success is a consistent investment philosophy: focusing on core competencies and staying ahead of the curve.”
Golden Gate Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm investing across Southeast Asia. Since 2011, the firm has invested in over 25 companies across more than seven countries in Asia. The firm invests in Internet & mobile startups across many sectors, including e-commerce, payments, marketplaces, mobile applications and SaaS platforms. Singaporean FinTech startups TradeGecko, Codapay, Semantics3, MoneySmart and others are a part of GGV’s portfolio.
Green Visor Capital is one of the few venture capital firms focused exclusively on investing in FinTech startups. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with partners in New York and Hong Kong. Cloud Lending, Credit Shop, Auditfile.com, FiscalNote, Clearserve and Simpl are part of its investment portfolio. GVC invests in early-stage startups.
IDG Capital, previously known as IDG Capital Partners, represents private equity and venture capital fund managers, investment advisors and other business entities. Focusing on Chinese technology investments since the early 1990s, the firm is the first to bring foreign venture capital into China. It has an investment portfolio of over 100 startup companies, including Ctrip, Sohu, Baidu, China Finance Online, Tencent, soufun, HomeInns, NetDragon, Allyes and Kingdee, 30 of which have completed public offerings or successful mergers.
IMJ Investment Partners started investing in startups in Japan and Silicon Valley since January 2012. In the summer of 2012, IMJ started preparing investment activities in Southeast Asia and founded a new company in Singapore in February 2013. IMJ currently is working on venture investment/support activities mainly in Southeast Asia and Japan.
IncubAsia Ventures has established a reputable ecosystem of affiliations and strategic customer relationships with digital media companies, telcos, large MNCs, venture capital firms, venture arms and government institutions. IAV offers venture acceleration, which depends on the company’s stage in the lifecycle, service offering and the scale opportunities. IncubAsia Ventures guides early-stage tech companies to commercialize their innovation, product or service and in doing so, become more appealing to potential investors if capital raising is part of their growth strategy. P2P lending startup LendLink is a part of IAV’s portfolio.
Infocomm Investments Pte. Ltd. (IIPL) builds and invests in Singapore and global infocomm technology startups. Managing more than US$200 million, IIPL accelerates the development of startups in their formative phase, and invests further as they move towards growth and expansion. Through its investments, partnerships with stakeholders across private and public sectors, and global reach, IIPL plays an important role in building a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem in Singapore for startups. IIPL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. FinTech startups accelerator Startupbootcamp is among FinTech companies in IIPL’s portfolio.
Intel Capital is interested in seed or growth-stage FinTech startups to take them to the next level. Intel Capital has invested more than $11.4 billion in over 1,400 companies in 57 countries. In that time frame, over 210 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and more than 360 were acquired or participated in a merger.
Jungle Ventures is an entrepreneur-backed venture firm focused on funding and helping startups scale across the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Singapore, Jungle Ventures invests and helps build tech category leaders in Asia. Fastacash, Momoe and Abra are FinTech startups in the payments sector from Jungle Ventures’ portfolio.
KK Fund is a venture capital fund investing in seed stage internet and mobile startups across South East Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Life.SREDA is a venture capital firm focusing on investments in FinTech mobile and Internet projects. Its strategy is determined by the deep understanding of the rapidly growing FinTech 2.0 industry and the narrow investment focus. Life.SREDA believes that “The Next Big Thing” is the combination of the past decade’s global trends, such as the social & mobile with the innovative and bright FinTech ideas. Life.SREDA currently operates in the US, Western and eastern European markets, providing mostly seed- and early-stage venture funding.
Monk’s Hill Ventures is a partnership of seasoned entrepreneurs who have built and backed global companies based both in Silicon Valley and Asia. Monk’s Hill Ventures invests in top entrepreneurs in post-seed companies in Southeast Asia. Typically, MHV invests in companies that already have had at least US$500k to US$1.5 million of seed/angel funding, and have demonstrated significant progress in building a viable product (probably 1~2 years of operations) with some level of repeatability in the sales cycle.
Sequoia Capital is a venture capital focused on energy, financial, enterprise, healthcare, internet, and mobile startups. The company was founded by Don Valentine in November 1972 and is based in Menlo Park, California. The firm also has branches in Israel, China and India and is interested in seed, early-stage and later-stage ventures.
Silver Lake has over $26 billion in combined assets under management and committed capital and a team of approximately 100 investment and value creation professionals located around the world. Notable companies in the investment portfolio are represented by Alibaba Group, Cast & Crew, Global Blue, Interactive Data Corporation and Renovate America. Silver Lake operates in New York, Silicon Valley, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. The company is looking to invest in startups across a variety of sectors, in particular, FinTech, financial services, e-commerce, IT & cloud computing, healthcare and mobile communications.
TA Associates is one of the oldest and largest growth private equity firms in the world that invests in growing private companies across industries (particularly, FinTech, technology, financial services, healthcare and consumer businesses, communications). TA Associates operates in Boston, Menlo Park, London, Mumbai and Hong Kong. BATS Global Market, BluePay, BillDesk, Smart Stream, Yeepay.com and RGM Advisors are in the portfolio.
“Venturra Capital is a Southeast Asian-focused venture capital firm investing in early-stage consumer technology-enabled internet businesses. Our firms primarily investment focus is in consumer Internet companies that are ready to expand internationally, in sectors such as e-commerce, financial technology, marketplaces, healthcare and education amongst others.”
Warburg Pincus has invested more than $50 billion in more than 720 companies in more than 35 countries around the world. The firm has more than $35 billion in assets under management. Its active portfolio of more than 120 companies is highly diversified by stage, sector and geography. The company is looking to invest in seed, early/later-stage ventures as well as private equity across Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo and Shanghai.
Wavemaker Partners takes a co-investment approach to help startups bridge the “post-angel and pre-venture” gap, which was a challenging phase the fund experienced itself. Investments usually start with a $100K–$750K check and can follow on until $1M. Wavemaker Partners leads rounds in case it is in the best position to do so and likes to bring in co-investors who can add value. The combination of portfolio building and co-investment has enabled Wavemaker Partners to invest in over 180 companies and co-invest with over 120 early-stage investors. These form a powerful network, which supports pattern recognition, diligence, co-investment, customer acquisition and corporate development. Wavemaker Partners joined the Draper Venture Network and has 10 funds across four continents.
Note: The list is certainly not exhaustive and there is a range of other VC firms playing a vital role in building a strong startup ecosystem across industries and segments. Please contact the LTP team if you wish to be included in further reviews.
First appeared at LTP