Accelerasia: Bridging the Europe-Asia divide

Visual from Accelerasia website

Bridging the gap between the Western hemisphere and the markets of the Asia-Pacific, primarily the growth engine of Southeast Asia, Accelerasia aims to help startup ventures from Europe and North America, enter the region.

According to Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) of Singapore, the EU accounts for nearly 10 per cent of Singapore’s global trade and was Singapore’s third largest trading partner in 2013, with bilateral trade amounting to S$96.5 billion. The EU was the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Singapore in 2012, accounting for nearly S$190 billion or  25.9 per cent of total FDI in Singapore. By comparison, Singapore was the second largest Asian investor in the EU, with S$60.3 billion invested in the EU in 2012.

Now into its fifth year in Singapore, Accelerasia, has opened offices in Jakarta and Manila and witnessed the growth of Singapore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founded by Arnout Mostert, Frank Bomers and Joeri Gianotten, the accelerator offers a team of partners possessing experience and expertise in a broad range of sectors, from M&A and investments to sales & marketing, business development and marketing communication.

But what makes this accelerator atypical is their approach in enabling startup ventures to capitalise on the rapidly expanding market opportunities in Southeast Asia?.

It allows them to leverage on Accelerasia’s knowledge of the entreprenerial landscape and operating terrain of the region by working as an extension of the companies. It generates deals on behalf of our clients rather than the traditional consulting and advisory role accelerators take. In exchange, their remuneration comes in the form of equity, revenue share, service fees or a mix of the three.

Accelerasia’s business model distributes risk across their portfolio, mitigating uncertainty for ventures expanding into the region, generating more robust outcomes for both Accelerasia and their portfolio firms, as well as reducing the risk of failure. In effect, they are personally invested and committed to the success of their portfolio companies.

Focusing mainly on mobile technologies and apps, digital media and publishing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), gaming and e-commerce, they also claim to be able to leverage on extensive social currency, via an ecosystem of partnerships with MNCS, SMEs, institutions and individuals in the ASEAN region.

Also Read: Deeper complexity in Europe, greater volume in Asia: Marcus Gnirck

Accelerasia Insights

Gianotten, who comes from a business development background, has had professional stints at Red Herring magazine, the Royal Bank of Scotland and customer and employee engagement firm Ammado, has organised and conducted multiple events and projects in Asia.

The accelerator is atypical in that it specialises in working exclusively with startup ventures from Europe, specifically the EU countries, as well as those ventures from North America seeking to break into the region. They have no local startups in their portfolio, and lack Limited Partners.

Leveraging upon their expertise, corporate networks and cultural literacy, they help these foreign ventures accelerate their growth in the region. Often, these startup ventures lack the social and knowledge capital required to build traction in the region.

Gianotten explained: “Most of our startups operate in the digital media, ICT, technology, media & telecommunications (TMT), cloud computing and enterprise space, with our portfolio of ventures currently at the series A funding stage or beyond. Every year, we work with one or two early stage companies. “

He added “We handle sales and business development, with most clients who are actively engaged coming every quarter or two months to Singapore to touch base with us. We take a variable commission from them on the deals we generate for them.”

Mostert, a partner in Accelerasia, as well as a mentor with the Founder Institute and Startupbootcamp Fintech, often looks at teams prior to the startup venture, evaluating their ability to collaborate with Accelerasia and build traction for the firm. In addition to this, revenue generation from successful pilot projects or commitments from major clients are taken into account.

Finally, Mostert seeks ventures that possess an ‘unfair advantage’, in the form of intellectual property (IP), business model or other aspect of a venture that cannot be easily copied or other replicated by competitors in the market, allowing it to differentiate itself from its business rivals. Such an advantage can come from any number of sources within the company, either from its corporate culture or expertise critical to the problem domain it addresses.

Also Read: Exclusive: Delta eyes stake in European power supplier

Upcoming Developments

With an extensive portfolio of past and present clients, they have enjoyed success stories like Media Monks, a creative digital production agency with offices in Amsterdam, London and New York that partnered with AccelerAsia to grow their business in Southeast Asia, with a business development team based in its Singapore office.

Another notable venture in its portfolio is CrowdyNews, a social media curation platform that enhances the quality of published content by adding additional content and context, by generating opinions from social media feeds (i.e. Twitter). According to Gianotten, Accelerasia is now seeking to expand its team and is hiring staff to manage the generation and curation of dealflow, account, project and operations management, due to the growing demands of their portfolio.

Gianotten highlighted that many of their ventures in their portfolio of often end up staying put with Accelerasia, due to Accelerasia’s success in serving as their Asia office and building traction for them in the region. He shared that some upcoming ventures, such as Idomoo (digital CRM), Crowdynews and Kiosk (in-content advertising).

Basekit, a startup which produces a website building application and graduated from Seedcamp, a European pre-seed and seed accelerator last June, has closed deals in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand with the help of Accelerasia.

With the EU-Singapore FTA predicted to strengthen mutual investment and business links once ratified, especially with the potential for connecting the growth engines of Central and East Europe and Southeast Asia, Accelerasia is positioned to capitalise on the growth in entrepreneurs seeking to build traction in ASEAN markets.

Related Stories: 

EU represents a huge, investor-friendly market: Jana Zilcayova

Snapshot of ASEAN M&A trends: Early indicator of business confidence

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.