Exclusive: Expara Vietnam Accelerator to come in as first investor in graduating startups

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CLAS – Expara Vietnam Accelerator, the partnership between Singapore venture capital and entrepreneurship consultancy firm Expara and Microsoft, is open to come in as the very first investor in its graduating startups.

While most accelerators help companies raise money, Expara has its own fund and accelerator, so startups who finish the programme do not have to chase after investors.

“We are willing to be the first investor in the companies coming for the post accelerator investment,” said Douglas Abrams, CEO of the Singapore-based VC firm.

Thanks to its regional presence – with presence in Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Vietnam – and good network beyond the countries that it invests in, Expara helps portfolio companies grow beyond border.

“A lot of accelerators offer co-working space, mentors, workshops and networking events, but we provide structured learning programmes. We help entrepreneurs understand both product/market fit and financial offer, so that they come out of the programme with thorough and deep understanding of both sides of business for startups,” said Abrams, adding, this would get the startups ready for the next round of funding.

Expara’s collaboration with Microsoft also promises to offer market support to startups in the fledgling Vietnamese ecosystem.

Also read: Microsoft, Singapore VC Expara, CLAS launch startup accelerator in Vietnam

“We are not just helping to create successful companies today but also successful startup mentors who will help the next generation of young Vietnamese founders,” Abrams said.

“When I look at the quality of the people coming out of our first programme, I believe many of these people are going to be key members of the enterprise ecosystem over the next few years,” he added.

The accelerator has graduated seven startups in its first batch, which included nine startups, in April. One of them has raised venture capital funding during the course of training, Abrams said. Expara is also meeting with all the graduate startups to discuss post accelerator investment.

In addition to operating the CLAS – Expara Vietnam Accelerator, the VC firm has already made one separate investment in baby product e-commerce startup Taembe. Other startups that have applied for funding from Expara, outside of the accelerator, are also being reviewed.

Also read: Vietnamese online baby product retailer Taembe secures $228K seed funding from Swiss investor

Abrams said, his company would look at any promising opportunities, sometimes would even do internal projects that may look like venture building.

However, Expara would principally focus on founder-built rather than venture-built companies, Abrams said.

The firm has raised S$63 million in since 2007, it said on its website. It runs two incubator funds – Expara IDM Ventures and Expara IDM Ventures II, and Extream Ventures (a joint venture fund with Upstream) before launching the Expara Ventures III (EV3) last year.

The latest regional fund targets early stage to series A investments worth S$500,000 to S$3 million in internet, interactive digital media and disruptive innovation startups. EV3 is also the fund designated to finance its affiliated accelerators, starting with the Vietnam programme.

Prior to the partnership with Microsoft, Expara ran i-4x Accelerator in Thailand in 2014.

Brief profile of CLAS – Expara Vietnam Accelerator’s first batch of graduating startups

CLAS Healthcare is a virtual care services provider which allows users to find and book healthcare services with hospitals and doctors.

Cloudjet Solutions provides a cloud-based application to manage objectives and people’s performance of all levels across an organisation.

HomeFinder is a real estate services platform that uses machine learning and advanced data analysis techniques to enhance competitiveness.

Hiip is an online automated influencer platform that helps brands directly connect with the right influencers by data and best-matching algorithm.

MegaNet uses its technology to cover free Wi-Fi for public places throughout Vietnam.

MimosaTEK is an integrated system of sensors, controller, and a cloud platform with algorithm, helping farmers monitor their farms.

UBEST is an online interactive training service provider that offers tools platform for online training solutions.

Also read: Startups win grants from IDG, Samsung-sponsored Vietnam Venture Cup

Five Vietnamese startups to watch in 2016