SeedPlus, an investment vehicle which targets early stage deals in Asia, has reached US$18 million for its first fund. The target for the vehicle was initially set at S$25 million (about US$17.9 million), making the round oversubscribed.
Cisco Investment (the investment arm of Cisco Systems Inc.) and Eight Road Ventures (the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International Limited) were among the backers for the round, along with a more recent participation from IFC, a unit of the World Bank Group which had made a US$2 million investment.
“The SeedPlus investment aligns with IFC’s Venture Capital group’s strategy to invest in venture capital funds that support innovative technology companies across emerging markets,” said Pravan Malhorta, IFC’s venture capital lead for Southeast Asia and Asia Internet investments.
Launched in May 2016, SeedPlus was set up by investment firms – Jungle Ventures, SGInnovate, Accel Partners, and Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates – to invest in seed-stage startups in Singapore, focusing on areas of financial technology, artificial intelligence, and cyber security.
As a matter of fact, Jungle Venture’s ambition for the fund is to emulate the success of venture capital firms in the United States that have launched different funds targeting specific industries or stages of technology startups.
“We want to create a network of funds that work with each other, capture very niche opportunities versus a giant, US$1 billion fund that does everything under the sun,” said Jungle Venture’s founder Amit Anand.
The fund has made five deals so far, including Moglix, an Indian B2B e-commerce platform specializing in the maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) industry and Mimetic.ai, a Singaporean tech startup operating an AI scheduling assistant known as Evie, among some.
“Today, there are several fast-evolving, transformative technologies disrupting key industry sectors enabling entrepreneurship and innovation to flourish in emerging markets, particularly in Southeast Asia, which we see a growing market for us this year,” Malhotra said.
He further adds, “the closing of the fund reinforces our confidence that investors see Asia as a dynamic region where entrepreneurship is flourishing and funding for startups will take them to the next level of growth.”
The company will be run by three operating partners – Michael Smith Jr, who is a CTO at streaming service HOOQ, former Spotify product manager Gabriel Lundberg, and Tiang Lim Foo, who led Evernote’s market development in Asia Pacific.
“Given the experience and network of the team, we tend to look at ourselves as operating partners to the startup teams we work with. There’s definitely a huge element of bringing our past operating experiences from companies like Spotify, Google, Yahoo, and Evernote where I was from, to partner with product and deep tech-driven founders and startups,” explained Tiang.
In another development, Jungle Ventures also announced the joining of Chirayu Wadke, a former Google employee as a partner to lead the firm’s investment. Chirayu previously led strategic business development for a number of product areas at Google in Mountain View.
By Vivian Foo, VCNewsNetwork