The US- based venture capital 500 Startups is launching a $10 million fund solely dedicated to Thailand. This follows the launch of the $10 million ‘500 Durians’ fund in Asia, last year.
The new fund, ‘500 Tuk Tuks’, has been named for the Kingdom’s iconic three-wheel taxi. The fund is yet to be sealed but a formal announcement, including details of its first investment, is expected to be made next month, according to a TechCrunch report.
500 Startups has already been backing several Thai companies via 500 Durians since last year.
According to the venture capital firm, half of the 500 Tuk Tuks fund will be used to finance early-stage startups, and the other half will be allocated as follow-up and later-stage funding.
The fund will allocate an average seed investment of around $75,000 per startup and could follow that up with an over $150,000 injection, provided to the firms “that show signs of becoming big winners”.
500 Startups is one of the more Thailand focused investors and aims to make an early move in the Thai startup scene, competing with other venture capital firms including InVent, Ardent Capital, Inspire and Cyber Agent.
However, one of its strengths is that it the company is managed by two of the most successful startup promoters in Thailand – Natavudh “Moo” Pungcharoenpong, CEO of Ookbee (a digital publishing startup that has raised over $8 million) and Ruangroj “Krating” Poonpol, a former US-based Googler and director with Telenor.
“We believe the Thai market is hot and we’re seeing liquidity avenues open up for startups in the region. This makes for a valuable opportunity for early-stage investing,” 500 Startups stated in its pitch to investors.
Thailand may not be the largest market in the region, but it is attractive for the investors because of its 65 million population – 40 million of which have internet access primarily on phones and 35 million have used Line, the most popular social network in the country.
500 Startups also claims domestic startups have raised around $25 million over the past two years – an aggressive growth from nothing before then.