Anchorless Bangladesh eyes up to $40m debut VC fund

File picture of vehicles seen stuck in a huge traffic jam on a road inundated by rain water in Dhaka. August 25, 2010. REUTES/Andrew Biraj

A new Bangladesh-focused venture capital firm is in town.

Anchorless Bangladesh is set up by Rahat Ahmed, a former investment analyst with Prince Street Capital Management, a US-based hedge fund focused on emerging markets.

Frank Han, former senior principal at Blackstone Group in China, will join the company as a senior advisor. Peter Findley,  formerly with US hedge fund BlueCrest Capital, and Daniel McMurtrie founder and CEO of New York-based asset management firm Tyro Partners, will join the team as general partners.

In an interview with DealStreetAsia, Ahmed said that Anchorless is aiming to raise $30-40 million for its debut fund. He declined to share how much has been raised so far, but its limited partners (LPs) include Jim O’Shaughnessy and other US high net worth individuals (HNWIs), family offices, and endowment funds.

“We’ve got capital in the bank for our first year. We also have investments which we are expecting to announce at the beginning of 2020 which we’re very excited about,” said Rahat Ahmed, CEO and founding partner of Anchorless Bangladesh.

Anchorless is understood to be one of the country’s first VC firms.

Prior to this, Bangladeshi startups have tended to raise from overseas investors, which may come in the form of frontier market private equity firms (Osiris Group), development financial institutions (IFC, a member of the World Bank Group) or regional VCs (Openspace Ventures in Pathao).

Ahmed explained that the lack of capital isn’t the issue in Bangladesh – it’s the lack of structured capital.

“A lot of capital is needed to support an ecosystem that can get startups from seed to exit, but that hasn’t been occurring in Bangladesh. What there is a shortage in – is structured capital that takes companies from seed to Series C. We’ll have to work closely with regional investors to bring them on board,” said Ahmed.

Anchorless Bangladesh is on track to deploy in about 2-6 startups beginning January 2020, covering technology and technology-enabled sectors. Its ticket sizes are $250,000 to $2 million, with room for follow-on capital. Ahmed added that the VC firm targets opportunities serving Bangladesh’s 40 million middle-income population.

Many of these sectors, Ahmed shares, are on the cusp of getting filled.

“I think people often focus on Bangladesh’s GDP per capita which is roughly over $1,900, but that’s not the real play. The real play is the rising middle class with a lot more disposable income. More importantly, most of them are increasing their incomes by 20-25% plus year-over-year on average which is pretty steep,” said Ahmed.

Bangladeshi startups have been quietly bootstrapping over the years.

Notable venture-backed startups in the market include Bongo, the country’s largest on-demand video platform; Pathao, a Gojek-backed ride-hailing startup; and Shohoz, Golden Gate Ventures-backed bus ticketing firm.

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.