Singapore-based InseadAlum Ventures fund launches with $700k corpus

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Photo from INSEAD Facebook page.
Photo from INSEAD Facebook page.

Alumnus of international business school INSEAD launched a new investment firm called InseadAlum Ventures (IAV) in Singapore today with a corpus of nearly S$1 million ($700,000) to invest in startups founded by its alumni.

Though based in the city-state, the investment firm is maintaining a global scope and will target companies co-founded by at least one INSEAD alum. With a focus on providing seed funding, value-added resources and mentorship to selected INSEAD alumni who are becoming entrepreneurs after graduation, the fund was founded by Deepak Shahdadpuri and William Klippgen.

An offshoot of INSEAD’s Global Private Equity Initiative (GPEI), faculty from GPEI and the Rudolf and Valeria Maag INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship will serve as advisors and mentors across the fund’s activities. The fund will be looking to provide seed capital to INSEAD graduates, who can benefit from leveraging the IAV mentors and the broader INSEAD alumni network.

Endorsed by INSEAD

In late 2016, Klippgen had announced the launch of Cocoon Capital, which launched with a $7 million fund that focuses on seed and Series A investments. Meanwhile, Shahdadpuri is involved with DSG Consumer Partners as its founder and managing director.

In an email exchange with DEALSTREETASIA, Shahdadpuri explained that the fund is denominated in the local currency and not US Dollars due to IAV being structured as an investment holding company, and the fact that due to its incorporation in here, the Singapore Dollar was the “default and most appropriate choice of denomination.”

Asked whether he saw this role as being complementary to his current role at DSG Consumer Partners, Shahdadpuri said: “InseadAlum Ventures (IAV) is an idea/initiative that I have worked  on for a few years along with members of faculty and other alumnus. Will and I got together a year ago to take the initiative forward with an initial pool of a $1m. Both Will and I run our own funds and we see IAV as very much complementary to what we do and at the same time it was one way for us and other members of the alumni to build the INSEAD entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Asked to characterise the funds’ relatoinship to INSEAD, its Singapore network and the synergies emerging from it, Shahdadpuri highlighted thta INSEAD maintained campuses in France, Singapore and the UAE. He noted: “In many ways it helps that Will and I are in Singapore, where INSEAD has a campus. It lets us interact more actively with students, alumni and faculty. Most INSEAD students spend time at two campuses and get a chance to build a network in Singapore and France.”

IAV will invest from SGD $50k to $200k in each startup, and will help develop the company to a point where they easily can raise further seed or Series A funding. Selected entrepreneurs will get access to senior alumni, industry experts, faculty and other investors.

The funds’ first investment is in UK-based, smart thermostat startup Switchee, which raised a GBP480,000 ($580,000) seed round with participation from InseadAlum Ventures. Switchee and future portfolio companies will get access to INSEAD’s network of senior alumni, faculty, industry experts, and other investors.

The firm’s investor base includes successful alumni entrepreneurs such as Jani Rautiainen, co-founder of PropertyGuru, Southeast Asia’s largest property portal and Aloke Bajpai, Principal Founder of India’s largest online travel search portal, iXiGO.com.

INSEAD faculty is also represented by Prof. Claudia Zeisberger, Dr. Hellmut Schütte, Dr. Serguei Nettesine and Dr. Neil Bearden.

Prof. Claudia Zeisberger, a long-term advocate for a closer co-operation between the business school and investors, added: “I believe InseadAlum Ventures adds a new dimension to INSEAD’s ecosystem supporting its alumni entrepreneurs. I look forward to supporting their future portfolio companies.”

When asked about the exit horizon for the fund and the accounting rate of return (ARR) that they expected from investments, Shahdadpuri added: “IAV was set up to create value for all participants. Given the structure of IAV and thesis, IAV is able to hold its position for as long as necessary to maximise value. Having said that we believe that we will be invested for 5-7 years on average. We want to deliver returns that the venture asset class as a whole seek to deliver, which in the current environment will be 20-25% IRR.”

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