With favourable macro drivers, an accelerated pace of digital adoption, a generation of new unicorns, and a pipeline of exits, venture capital activity in SE Asia is coming of age.
Nearly 62 SE Asia-based active VC funds and 17 global vehicles are in the market raising capital to deploy in the region. Cumulatively, the 79 regional and foreign VC funds are looking to gather at least $8 billion, DealStreetAsia’s DATA VANTAGE report shows.
At our Asia PE-VC Summit this year, we bring you a curated selection of 22 sessions covering a cross-section of subjects most relevant to the VC and startup ecosystem in South Asia. Our 35 top speakers represent prominent VC firms and startups such as Vertex, Alpha JWC, Lippo, Blume Ventures, JD.com, Prosus Ventures, Lightspeed, Sequoia India, PropertyGuru, Ajaib and many more.
Some of the topics we have put together include how global investors are viewing opportunities in SE Asia; an approach to early-stage investing in India; Indonesia’s IDX readying for more tech listings; and bridging the funding gap for women founders. We also have focus tracks on alternative food, the cryptocurrency asset class, life sciences, and the deep-tech and consumer sectors.
Join these conversations with our top speakers at the Asia PE-VC Summit 2021 to get full coverage of the venture capital landscape in Asia.
1. Fireside Chat: The road to building a regional property marketplace leader
Hari V. Krishnan , CEO & Managing Director, PropertyGuru
From a listing collapse in 2019 to raising a big-ticket sum from its storeyed backers to acquiring Australia-listed REA Group entities in Malaysia and Thailand to the latest SPAC merger, PropertyGuru has had a milestone-filled journey in recent months.
PropertyGuru’s merger with blank cheque firm Bridgetown 2 Holdings, a SPAC entity backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, will give the combined entity an equity value of $1.78 billion. Backed by TPG Capital and KKR, the property marketplace has joined fellow tech majors from the region to take the SPAC route.
In this chat, PropertyGuru CEO Hari Krishnan will trace the growth journey of the marketplace across multiple geographies in a largely traditional and local sector as well as its road ahead. We will quiz Hari Krishnan about how PropertyGuru has pursued opportunities such as landing big-ticket funding, scaling up both organically and through M&As, striking a SPAC deal and the complexity of serving vastly different markets. PropertyGuru operates property marketplaces in five of the biggest Southeast Asian economies –Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Sanjay Nath, Founder, Blume Ventures
As a venture capital firm, if raising money is tough, returning money to one’s limited partners is way tougher, according to early-stage investor Blume Ventures.Set up in 2010 by Karthik Reddy and Sanjay Nath, Blume has backed over 100 startups, including Dunzo and Instamojo, across its 10-year history through multiple funds.
The VC most recently raised a Rs 350-crore (over $46 million) secondary vehicle to invest in some of its larger portfolio firms to support them for a longer tenure and to allow an exit for some of the early LPs. As part of the secondary vehicle, Blume will continue to invest in at least half a dozen of these portfolio firms including GreyOrange, Turtlemint, among others. Blume is also nearing the deployment cycle of its $102-million third fund, even as it is looking at ways to stay invested in its growing portfolio.
Seasoned investor Nath will take us through India’s growing unicorn count, viable exit avenues for investors and the need for building sustainable businesses. Blume Ventures’s secondary vehicle comes at a time when several prominent startups in India are queueing up for a busy IPO season. We will ask Nath about what prompted the strategy to hold some of the firm’s key bets for a longer term to deliver bigger exit outcomes. Will this trend take off in India’s startup ecosystem?
John Riady, CEO, Lippo Karawaci
The Lippo Group is viewed as a proxy for the state of the Indonesian economy. Its performance across key business verticals – real estate, private healthcare, and its tech bets – place it at the centre of Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
The group has been in the news recently with ride-hailing and payments decacorn Gojek investing in its retail business, and Axiata Group Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest wireless carrier, being in talks to pick up stake in its portfolio company PT Link Net.In 2019, in a surprise move, John Riady, grandson of Lippo founder Mochtar Riady, became the CEO of IDX-listed Lippo Karawaci, and was tasked with restoring the property developer’s many challenges at that time.
Lippo Karawaci is also the majority shareholder of Indonesia’s largest private healthcare services provider Siloam International Hospitals, where John serves as Chairman of the Board, and owns a stake in SGX-listed Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust, which owns and operates one in every four malls in Indonesia.
As Lippo CEO, John Riady has focused on concentrating on the sweet spots in real estate and healthcare businesses. He is betting on macro drivers like urbanisation and demographics, as well as the digitalisation of healthcare to spur growth at the group’s businesses.Prior to taking over as CEO, Riady led the group’s digital efforts and investments in SE Asia’s technology sector including in e-payment platform OVO, which counts Grab and Tokopedia among its backers.
The group has made over 40 investments in Indonesia’s tech sector, which Riady believes is at an inflection point. We will hear more from Riady on how he is applying learnings from leading digital initiatives on hardcore brick-and-mortar businesses in the remaking of Lippo Group.
Pandu Sjahrir, Commissioner, Indonesia Stock Exchange & Managing Partner, Indies Capital
Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) is seeking to tap the growing interest in the tech sector, especially homegrown brands that are looking to debut in the local public market. On August 6, 2021, e-commerce unicorn Bukalapak became the first tech unicorn of its generation to make a stellar debut on the IDX after raising $1.52 billion in its IPO in the bourse’s biggest offering since Adaro Energy’s issue in 2008.
On its part, the IDX is looking at coming out with policy changes related to dual-class share regulation with multiple voting rights to accommodate more tech listings. The policy change is aimed at attracting more local tech companies to list in the domestic market instead of pursuing IPOs abroad.
The archipelago has seen the highest number of IPOs in Southeast Asia since 2018 with 51 companies listing on the bourse in 2020. However, the total amount raised, at $421 million, was much smaller compared with the neighbouring markets of Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
As IDX Commissioner, Pandu Sjahrir – who is also a seasoned investor and board member at several of the region’s tech giants – is working closely to bridge policy gaps and to enable more tech listings on the local bourse.
Pandu Sjahrir wears many hats and is deeply entrenched in the region’s investment ecosystem. Sjahrir also serves as the chairman of SEA Group Indonesia, the board member of Gojek, and the director of Toba Bara, a listed energy enterprise in Indonesia. He is also the managing partner of Indies Capital, an Indonesia-focused alternative asset manager, which has invested in Bukalapak. Indies has a strategic alliance with AC Ventures, an ASEAN-focused early-stage fund. Together, they have invested in over 100 companies.
In this keynote chat, we will ask Sjahrir about the demand for blockbuster IPOs in Indonesia, the pros and cons of local vs overseas listing and the need for tech companies to maximise stakeholder management in the geography of their operations.
5. Fireside chat: Venture investing is about betting on people to build great businesses
Chua Kee Lock, CEO, Vertex Holdings
Singapore’s Vertex Holdings, the venture capital arm of Temasek, has had a rather busy year with fundraising, and headline events from portfolio companies. Vertex Ventures SEA & India, part of Vertex’s global family of funds was Grab’s [then GrabTaxi] first institutional investor back in 2013 The SE Asian decacorn is targeting a listing on the Nasdaq in Q4 following a $40-billion SPAC deal with Altimeter Growth Corp in April.
On the fundraising side, Vertex Holdings raised SGD 450 million through the issuance of a seven-year senior unsecured Singapore dollar bonds as part of the firm’s maiden $2-billion multicurrency debt issuance programme. The first SGD corporate bond issuance by a global VC firm was upsized due to the “overwhelming investor demand”. This is the first time Vertex Holdings, which has AUM in excess of $4.5 billion, is publicly issuing bonds. The bond issue seeks to not only diversify its sources of funding but also allow investors exposure to venture capital as an asset class.
For Chua Kee Lock, venture investing, at its heart, is a “people business.” He believes top-tier teams and talent are core to building great enterprises. Vertex Holdings has an active portfolio of over 200 firms in technology and healthcare across key innovation hubs around the world. Its regional portfolio includes Grab, PatSnap, Validus, Tickled Media, FirstCry, Warung Pintar and Nium [the latest unicorn in its stable]. Join us in this conversation to know more about Vertex and its ability to create value beyond capital.
Patrick Cao, President, GoTo
In a landmark transaction in May this year, Indonesia’s on-demand app Gojek and e-commerce company Tokopedia announced a merger to form a holding company – GoTo – with businesses spanning ride-hailing, food delivery, online shopping and payments businesses.GoTo is said to be seeking a valuation of up to $40 billion for its IPO planned for end-2021, a figure that is similar to Grab’s valuation when it announced its SPAC merger with Altimeter Group.
The GoTo combine that includes ride-hailing, e-commerce vertical, and financial services also enjoys a huge home market advantage. According to Google, Temasek, and Bain & Co’s recent study, Indonesia’s GMV was $44 billion in 2020, almost half of Southeast Asia’s combined market. This is poised to reach $124 billion by 2025. More than 60 million Indonesians will join the ‘consumption class’ — individuals with over $3,500 in annual revenue.
Going forward, food delivery and financial services will likely be the most promising businesses for GoTo.How does the merger change the pecking order for the super app race in Indonesia with the GoTo combine taking on rivals Grab & Sea? How will GoTo manage the integration issues and overlaps in functions? Is GoTo overvalued or does the combination of different ecosystems under one roof add to the attractiveness of the asset? What will GoTo’s narrative be as it prepares its IPO roadmap? How does GoTo see its growth potential outside the home turf?
GoTo president Patrick Cao will share insights on the journey ahead for the merged entity. Cao is responsible for overseeing the finance, corporate development, investor relations and investment activities of GoTo. Previously the President of Tokopedia since 2016, Cao was responsible for the CFO Office, financial technology businesses and global partnerships. Let’s hear from Patrick Cao as he takes us through the region’s biggest tech merger.
Rueben Lai, senior managing director, Grab Financial Group
Grab, one of Southeast Asia’s most valuable startups, started as a ride-hailing business in 2012 and gradually diversified into food and deliveries and fintech offering myriad services under the super app umbrella, tapping an addressable market of 650-million plus people in the region.
In a milestone deal earlier this year, Grab announced a $40 billion deal with special purpose acquisition vehicle Altimeter Growth Corp and is working to list on the Nasdaq in the fourth quarter. Per its recent Q1 numbers, Grab has benefited from a surge in the food and delivery business as well as digital payments while its mainstay mobility vertical has been reeling from the pandemic-induced movement curbs in its core markets. Grab’s financial services segment recorded its highest quarterly total payment volume (TPV) so far in Q1 2021 with year-on-year growth of 17%.
Grab projects that the total TPV of its financial services division will touch $11 billion in 2021, clocking a growth of 23.6% YoY. Furthermore, Grab posted strong growth in lending and insurance segments in Q1.Grab has plans to move beyond payments as it bulks up its financial services layer. It has tied up with SingTel to set up a digital bank in Singapore that is likely to commence operations next year.
In Indonesia, however, Grab’s financial services business will see an impact following the merger between tech giants Gojek and Tokopedia, which is a co-investor in e-wallet OVO along with Grab.How does Grab see its fintech play evolving beyond the payments business? Will we see Grab getting into acquisition mode to bulk up its activities within the segment? How do we see OVO ownership changing following the GoTo merger in Indonesia? How will Grab leverage the partnership with Indonesian conglomerate Emtek Group to deepen its presence in SE Asia’s largest market? What are the group’s plans for other SE Asian markets? When will the financial services business likely become EBITDA positive?
Grab Financial Group senior managing director Reuben Lai will throw light on these questions and more about the road ahead for the company’s fintech ambitions.
At Grab, Reuben has launched multiple successful businesses, including a car leasing platform, Grab for Business, and Grab Ventures. He was also the Chief of Staff to Grab’s CEO. Before joining Grab, Reuben was a co-founder and CEO of a telemedicine startup.
Rachmat Kaimuddin, CEO, Bukalapak
Online marketplace Bulakapak became Indonesia’s first tech unicorn of this generation to successfully list on the Indonesia Stock Exchange after raising $1.52 billion in its initial public offering, five times more than the original target of $300 million. After the IPO, Bukalapak’s top three backers include Emtek subsidiary PT Kreatif Media Karya, Ant Group’s API Investment Ltd, and GIC – who together own 46% of the company.
Bukalapak’s listing is significant as it not only tested the depth of the local bourse but also set the stage for other tech unicorn listings in the SE Asian region. GoTo, the entity formed after the merger of Tokopedia and ride-hailing and deliveries giant Gojek earlier this year, is also eyeing a listing by the end of this year in Indonesia before it lists in the US. Singapore-based Grab is set to list on the NASDAQ by the fourth quarter of this year.
The path to IPO was actually laid nearly two years back in December 2019 when Bukalapak appointed ex-banker Muhammad Rachmat Kaimuddin as the CEO. Kaimuddin had the challenging task of keeping his eyes trained sharply on costs, efficiencies and business sustainability. Many industry observers had marked that the move was aligned to help the company maintain growth and meet investor expectations in a highly competitive market.
Kaimuddin was a director of finance and planning at local lender Bank Bukopin prior to joining Bukalapak. He has served stints at Quvat Management, Baring Private Equity, Bosowa Corporindo, and Semen Bosowa.
After steering Bukalapak to a blockbuster IPO, what are the next targets for Kaimuddin? We will ask the seasoned finance veteran about the most remarkable milestone in Indonesian public markets and what it means for the exit landscape for the tech startup ecosystem.
9. Fireside chat. The Near Story: Leveraging data intelligence and analytics to drive digital transformation
Shobhit Shukla, Co-founder and President, Near
It may be under the radar, but Singapore-headquartered Near, a B2B SaaS platform providing data intelligence on online and offline consumer behaviour, may soon emerge as the region’s next unicorn.
The company, which has been expanding from ‘East to West’ via M&As and organically says it aggregates anonymised data on 1.6 billion monthly users across 70 million places and is leveraged by 2 out of 3 Fortune 500 businesses. Near has raised $134 million from marquee investors such as Sequoia Capital, JP Morgan, Telstra and Cisco and has a presence across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Shobhit, who co-founded Near along with Anil Mathews, will talk about the company’s global ambitions and the road ahead. We will also ask him about the company’s recent acquisitions: Teemo, a Paris-based location intelligence platform, that allowed Near to crack the European market and offer advanced data intelligence products, as well as California-based UM that provides mobile location data and intelligence. We will also find out more about Near’s enterprise SaaS business model, privacy-by-design principle and its Entrepreneur-in-Residence Programme. Finally, when will Near test the public markets? Do join the session to find out.
10. Fireside chat: Taking AI out of science labs and creating scalable models
Ashwini Asokan, CEO & Co-founder, Mad Street Den
As CEO & co-founder of computer vision and AI company Mad Street Den, Ashwini Asokan believes in building models that can help millions of people across the globe to become AI natives. The company’s first vertical, Vue.ai, helps the retail industry reimagine and automate workflows while its platform Blox.ai powers businesses across education, healthcare, finance, and entertainment.
Mad Street Den’s backers include Sequoia Capital, Exfinity Ventures, KDDI – Global Brain Japan, and Rocketship VC. Ashokan, who returned to India in 2013 from the US after an 8-year stint with Intel, will talk about her journey, including launching Vue.ai after three years of deep research, and what it takes to scale a SaaS company.
Apart from AI-led revenue growth, process efficiency and revenue/performance marketing, we will also be asking her about hiring and talent, fundraising and valuations, as well as the gender imbalances prevailing in the tech and the startup ecosystems. Asokan strongly believes that diversity is essential and has enforced a 50-50 gender policy at Mad Street Den.
Jefrey Joe, Co-Founder & General Partner, Alpha JWC Ventures
Nicholas Cator, Founder & Managing Partner, Venturi Partners
Deepak Shahdadpuri, Managing Director, DSG Consumer Partners (Moderator)
How are consumer businesses adapting to this change? Which are the categories that are seeing explosive growth even during the pandemic? What are some of the pandemic-induced user behaviours likely to stay in the long-term? How are VCs assessing the investment potential and exit horizon in consumption play?
Alpha JWC’s Jefrey Joe, Venturi Partners’s Nicholas Cator and DSG Consumers Partners founder and managing director Deepak Shahdadpuri will share their insights on how they view the consumption story unfolding in South Asia.
Singapore-based Venturi Partners has secured the first close of its India- and Southeast Asia-focused consumer fund at $100 million. Venturi Partners Fund I will focus on investments in FMCG, education, and healthcare services. The fund made its maiden investment in Livspace, an Indian online home design firm, last year. Cator, a long-time executive at Belgium’s family-owned investment firm Verlinvest SA, launched Venturi Partners in 2019.
Jakarta-based Alpha JWC is raising a $300-million new fund that is targeting to invest in new consumer-oriented models and fintech sectors from the seed to Series B stages. Alpha JWC’s prominent portfolio firms include coffee chain Kopi Kenangan, B2B e-commerce platform GudangAda, and online brokerage firm Ajaib. The third fund will put Alpha JWC among a handful of Southeast Asian VCs that have raised over $200 million for a vehicle.
Prior to co-founding Alpha JWC, Jefrey was the COO of Groupon Indonesia where he focused on technology, customer experience, and logistics. Jefrey also co-founded Alterra, Indonesia’s pioneer online bill payment aggregator company. Jefrey has been an angel investor in early-stage tech startups in Asia and United States.
Shahdadpuri, who will also moderate the session, has over 15 years experience in private equity investing. Before DSGCP, he co-founded and managed the Beacon India Private Equity Fund and GEM India. He currently serves on multiple boards including Veeba Food Services, Raw Pressery, Eazydiner, Mswipe, Sula Wines, Impresario, Epigamia, IndoStar Capital, Furtados, Saraf Foods, India Lends and Saffronart. Join this session for a comprehensive outlook on the consumption story in the region.
Soon Sze Meng, President, South East Asia, JD.com
Sachin Bhanot, Head of Southeast Asia Investments, Prosus Ventures
Aaron Tan, Founder, Group CEO, Carro
Looking at 2025, the overall digital economy will likely reach $124 billion in value, re-accelerating to ~23% CAGR, per the Google-Bain-Temasek report on the internet economy. The e-commerce segment especially has driven significant growth in Indonesia at 54%. The overall 2020 GMV is estimated to have reached a total value of $44 billion in 2020, having grown at 11% YoY.
Our panelists, who are well-entrenched to capture opportunities in SE Asia’s maximum market, will further deep-dive into the pandemic-driven digital adoption trends across an array of sectors and how that is changing the landscape for tech investments in the archipelago.
In this discussion, we feature Soon Sze Meng, president (SE Asia), JD.com, China’s largest retailer that is deepening its presence in the region. Sze Meng is responsible for the Chinese tech major’s businesses and investments in South East Asia. He also serves as a member on the boards of Indonesian decacorn Gojek, JD.com’s local unit JD.ID, JD’s Thai venture, JD Central and Vietnamese e-commerce Tiki. Sze Meng joined JD.com from Singtel and has served stints at PayPal and Visa.
Our second panelist is Aaron Tan, founder of Singapore-based Carro, which recently completed a $360-million Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, making it the first automotive marketplace unicorn in SE Asia. Carro is looking to use the funds to fortify its position and expand its retail offering across Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, markets that contributed to significant growth in the past year. Aaron Tan, who helped start Singtel’s venture fund – Singtel Innov8 ventures, left the fund in 2016 and founded Carro, which was named the fastest growing company in Asia Pacific in 2021 with revenues of over $300 million annually.
Our third panelist Sachin Bhanot is the Head of Southeast Asia Investments at Prosus Ventures, where he covers a range of sectors including consumer enablement, B2B commerce, fintech, logistics and more. Prosus’s Indonesia portfolio includes logistics startup Shipper, investment firm Bibit; and fishery platform Aruna. Prior to joining Prosus, Bhanot was a member of the investment team at B Capital Group, where he focused on venture investments in Southeast Asia. Before B Capital, he was part of The Abraaj Group’s PE team in Southeast Asia and MENA region.
Join this session for a comprehensive coverage of Indonesia’s digital opportunity.
13. Global investors see value in sharpening focus on SE Asia
Akshay Bhushan, Partner, Lightspeed (India and SEA)
JP Lee, CEO, SoftBank Ventures Asia
SoftBank Ventures Asia and Lightspeed Venture Partners, two of the most prolific global investors with a strong regional focus, have actively deepened their footprint in the SE Asian tech space.
Set up as a SoftBank Group subsidiary called SoftBank Ventures Korea in 2000, the firm rebranded as SoftBank Ventures Asia in 2019 to better reflect its expanded focus. The VC firm has made several notable investments in SE Asia such as Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia, Vietnamese online marketplace Sendo, and Singapore’s used car platform Carro. It has over $1.1 billion of funds under management and has invested in over 250 companies across 15 funds. The firm’s mandate is to invest in startups that leverage AI to build highly disruptive products and services.
Lightspeed Venture Partners officially opened its presence in SE Asia with an office in Singapore last year. Its prominent investments in the region include Grab, Chilibeli, Ula, Shipper, NextBillion, Nas Academy, and Endowus. Lightspeed typically invests from the seed to Series B stages in the commerce, fintech, edtech and SaaS sectors. Lightspeed invests in the region from its $890 million Lightspeed Venture Partners XIII (US fund) and $275 million Lightspeed India Partners III (India fund).
We will learn more from JP Lee and Akshay Bhushan as they take us through what has changed in the tech investment landscape post-pandemic and the emergence of new technologies and business models that will ride on the accelerated online adoption in the region.
14. How US investors are gauging SE Asia’s fintech potential
Tilman Ehrbeck, Managing Partner, Flourish Ventures
Sheel Mohnot, Co-Founder, Better Tomorrow Ventures
Southeast Asia’s fintech startups accounted for the most number of deals in 2020 garnering around $1.26 billion in investor commitments, according to DealStreetAsia’s proprietary data. The bulk of the funding, or $634 million across 31 deals, went to e-payment startups that have seen rapid adoption driven by the region’s vast under-banked population.
In this panel, we feature two US-based fintech investors who will share their insights on the fintech scene in SE Asia. Spun out of the Omidyar Network in 2019, US-headquartered Flourish Ventures focuses on neobanks, insurtech and embedded finance. Some of its Southeast Asian portfolio companies include Grab Financial, Qoala, Tanihub and ShopUp. Flourish Ventures’s Ehrbeck believes SE Asia has arrived at a crossroads where it may borrow multiple influences from fintech ecosystems across the US, China and India.
Better Tomorrow Ventures is a $75-million fund that leads rounds in pre-seed and seed-stage fintech companies globally. Co-founder Sheel Mohnot believes fintech is a great way to improve people’s lives. Based in San Francisco, Better Tomorrow invests globally as it believes there is talent and unmet needs everywhere. Better Tomorrow Ventures has made some Asian bets including in Indonesian startup Brick and Pakistan-based Creditbook. Mohnot is also a limited partner in AngelList-backed iSeed’s micro fund for SE Asia.
Join this session to get a nuanced perspective on the region’s fintech potential.
15. Bridging the gaping funding gap for women founders
GV Ravishankar, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India LLP
Sunitha KR, President of Early-Stage Investments, LetsVenture
Amanda Susanti, Co-Founder & CEO, Sayurbox
Sarah Chen, Co-founder and Managing Partner, The Billion Dollar Fund for Women & Beyond the Billion (Moderator)
Data on funding for women-led enterprises reveals a rather discouraging story. Deals involving women founders or co-founders accounted for a mere 17.1% of the total PE and VC activity tracked in 2020 in Southeast Asia.
If Grab is taken out of the equation, the number dips to just 4.7%, per a DealStreetAsia DATA VANTAGE report. As of 2020, just 12% of venture-backed startups in India and 20% in ASEAN have at least one female founder, per Tracxn and Crunchbase. According to a LetsVenture study, India has about 10,000 angel investors and only 1% of these are women.
Our panelists will take us through the steps that would be required to correct the imbalance, foster an ecosystem conducive for women entrepreneurs and improve access to capital. Our speakers represent Sequoia Capital and LetsVenture who have been in the news for initiatives that seek to address the funding gap.
Sequoia Capital India has launched Sequoia Spark, a fellowship programme for women founders in Southeast Asia and India. Sequoia India will offer a $100,000 fellowship grant to 15 women entrepreneurs per year. Sequoia is looking to increase the top of the funnel for all venture firms, with the Spark initiative.
G V Ravishankar from Sequoia India advises on both technology as well as non-technology investments. He’s deeply interested in technology’s role in helping to drive efficiencies, reduce costs and improve access in consumer and healthcare markets. He currently serves on the boards of BYJUs, Capital Float, Eruditus Learning, Faces Cosmetics, Five Star finance, Rebel Foods, among others.
From the investing community, we also have Sunitha KR who is overseeing LetsVenture’s new angel investment initiative that seeks to provide access to women CXOs to invest in early and growth-stage startups. LetsVenture aims to onboard at least 100 women angel investors in 2021 and will launch at least five investment syndicates led by women.
Representing the startup ecosystem is Sayurbox co-founder Amanda Susanti who set up a farm-to-table grocery platform that is also backed by Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia. Sayurbox has also raised funding from Astra Digital International, Syngenta Group Ventures, Ondine Capital, among others.
Moderating this panel will be Sarah Chen, co-founder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, a global consortium of venture funds that have now pledged to invest and are actively deploying beyond $1 billion towards women-founded companies. To date, the consortium consists of close to 100 VCs and LPs and boasts 6 female-founded unicorns. Do join this much-needed critical and high-impact discussion.
Anderson Sumarli, Co-Founder & CEO, Ajaib
Gillian Tee, Co-Founder & CEO, Homage
Philip Thomas, Co-founder, Bonza
We will learn from our panelists on how they are navigating many of these growth challenges as they steer their startups in some of the fastest-growing segments.
Our panelist Anderson Sumarli is the co-founder and CEO of Ajaib, an online wealth management tool that brings personalised mutual fund and stock investing to the masses, potentially mobilising billions of investable assets across Southeast Asia. Ajaib recently raised $90 million in possibly the largest-ever Series A round by a Southeast Asian startup. The startup is bullish on deepening its play in the stock investment space given that only 1% of Indonesia’s over 260 million population invests in stocks.
Sumarli, whose venture is backed by Robinhood investor Ribbit Capital, as well as Horizons Ventures and SoftBank Ventures, is looking to expand its reach into the country’s tier two and three cities, where he believes the bulk of the opportunity lies. Ajaib’s Indian counterparts Zerodha and Groww saw growth coming from second and third-tier cities. Sumarli expects a similar trend to unfold in Indonesia.
Our second panelist Gillian Tee is the co-founder and CEO of Homage, a senior home care solution that combines professional caregivers with smart technology to provide home caregiving to seniors. To date, Homage has provided more than 100,000 hours of home caregiving to seniors in Singapore and Malaysia.
Homage recently raised $30 million in equity in a Series C round led by Sheares Healthcare Group, a wholly-owned healthcare enterprise of state-owned investment firm Temasek. Other investors include DG Daiwa Ventures, East Ventures (Growth), HealthXCapital, SEEDS Capital, Trihill Capital, and Alternate Ventures. With this, Homage has raised over $45 million to date. Homage is looking to ramp up its global footprint and B2B operations with the latest proceeds.
Prior to Homage, Gillian Tee co-founded Rocketrip, a Y-Combinator and Bessemer Ventures-backed travel tech startup based in New York City and Silicon Valley that raised more than $30 million. Prior to Rocketrip, Gillian held various sales, business development, product management and technology leadership positions at Amazon and Accenture.
Our third panelist is Philip Thomas, co-founder & chief product and data officer of Bonza, a big data analytics platform. He led the development of Bonza’s Rt modelling that is being used extensively by many organisations to track the spread of Covid-19 in Indonesia. Before co-founding Bonza, Philip was a data scientist lead in several technology companies in SE Asia. Bonza raised an undisclosed seed round from East Ventures last year. Bonza believes in bridging the gap between machine learning and AI research, and its implementation in the real world.
Join this AMA session to get some honest answers from their rich and varied startup experience.
Kiran Mysore, Principal, UTEC, Japan
Venkat Vallabhaneni, Managing Partner, Inflexor Ventures
Seen as a nascent space, Deep Tech – which refers largely to companies creating a tough-to-replicate, complex and scientific solution to a problem – is slowly picking up in South Asia in terms of deal activity and investor interest. The sector enjoys favourable government policies particularly in Singapore, the hub for much of the action in the region.This panel will explore if South Asia has it to become the next global hub for deep tech? What would it take for the region to get there? Will the region benefit from the low cost of commercialisation of a deep-tech solution? Will access to a huge market in its backyard prove to be an advantage?
UTEC Japan’s Kiran Mysore and Inflexor Ventures’s Venkat Vallabhaneni will take us through their deep-tech investment thesis, the region’s outlook and challenges and some of their most interesting bets.
The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners or UTEC hit the first close of its fifth global deep tech fund at $275 million and is targeting to invest more heavily in Southeast Asia. In SE Asia, it has invested in Singapore-based deep tech firms like SWAT Mobility, Immunoscape, OPALai and Tricog. Its portfolio in India includes Bugworks Research and the firm is also an LP in Blume Ventures Fund III.
Inflexor Ventures recently closed its technology fund at $81 million to back B2B/enterprise startups leveraging deep tech, technology IP and innovation. Inflexor has so far invested in Steradian Semiconductors, AR-based edtech firm PlayShifu; Vitra.ai, an AI-ML-based content translation platform and Kale Logistics, an AI & blockchain-enabled logistics tech company.
18. New angel tribe: Rise of the founder-investor
Edward Tirtanata, CEO and Co-founder, Kopi Kenangan
Darius Cheung, CEO, 99.co
Weihan Liew, GGV Capital
Rajive Keshup, Director, Cathay Innovation (Moderator)
There has been a noticeable surge in founders of mature startups doubling up as angel investors and cashing in on the region’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. In Indonesia, SE Asia’s largest market, founders are backing their own tribe to give back to the ecosystem and to capitalise on the unmissable growth opportunity that the region presents.
Indonesia is also attracting angel investment from Indian founders, who are seeking opportunities in the SE Asian country based on their learnings back home. The reasons are not too far to seek – the internet economy in Southeast Asia is expected to touch $300 billion by 2025, per the Google-Temasek-Bain report.
This session will explore how active angel investors straddle both roles – of founders and investors – effectively. . We will ask our panelists what drives them to angel investing – financial returns, brag rights, or fostering the region’s ecosystem, or all the above.
Our panelist Edward Tirtananta, the co-founder of Kopi Kenangan, has injected capital in as many as six tech startups including GudangAda, Otoklix, Klinik Pintar, BukuKas. Darius Cheung, co-founder/CEO at 99.co, has made over 10 investments and scored three exits.
Meanwhile, Weihan Liew is a serial technology entrepreneur in SE Asia having founded and successfully exited companies in the media and gaming space. Before joining GGV, Weihan started Indonesian mobile news app BaBe. He is also the founder of Main Games, the largest management platform for gaming live streamers in Indonesia.
The panel moderator Rajive Keshup is a Director at Cathay Innovation, a $1.5-billion global venture capital fund (part of Cathay Capital). The firm’s notable investments in the region include Finaccel, Coherent, Igloo Insuretech and KaiOS. Prior to this role, Keshup has been a founder, operator, and strategy consultant based out of New York City.
19. Alternative proteins: The future of food in Asia
Albert Tseng, Co-founder, Dao Foods International
Tai Lin, Managing Partner, Proterra Asia
William Koo, Managing Director, Temasek Life Sciences Accelerator (Moderator)
Asia is marching ahead as a hub for global alternative food companies seeking to expand to gain a leading position in some of the world’s largest consumer markets. Alternative protein startups, the nascent category touted as the future of food, have been fast garnering investor interest with deal value in the region growing to $155 million in 2020 compared to just $5.3 million in 2019.
Apart from sustainability concerns and shifts in consumer behaviour, what is driving growth in the sector? How are alt protein companies changing the economics of food? What do investors stand to gain?
Featuring top executives from Proterra Asia, Dao Foods and Temasek accelerator, this panel will explore the facets driving the sector and the challenges to the road ahead.
Proterra, which was carved out of agribusiness giant Cargill unit Black River Asset Management in 2016, has some $2.5 billion in AUM. Investments in food account for the largest share of the total portfolio. Proterra is currently raising an up to $800 million Asia-focussed agribusiness fund, and Lin believes that direct exposure to food, which forms the largest portion of the continent’s Consumer Price Index basket, is requisite for a direct connection with the Asian consumer.
Cross-border investment firm Dao Foods is targeting to back investments in about 30 China-based alternative protein startups in the next three years. Temasek Life Sciences Accelerator, a JV between Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory and Vertex Holdings, is Singapore’s first agri-bio-sci-tech incubator that aims to incubate, nurture and grow disruptive life science innovations into early-stage companies. Singapore’s Temasek is an active investor in the alternative protein space.
20. Building global life science champions from Singapore hub
XQ Lin, Chairman and CEO, Esco Lifesciences Group
ZHOU Lihan, Co-founder & CEO, MiRXES
With proactive government policies, an ecosystem that fosters innovation, intellectual property rights protection, strong corporate-academia linkages in the field of research, the presence of multinational players and a robust vibrant entrepreneurial cluster, Singapore is considered a regional hub for life science-based innovation.
The city-state has channelled nearly S$4 billion in public sector research funding towards the health and biomedical sciences domain, according to EDB Singapore data.In this panel, we feature two Singapore-based life science companies MiRXES and Esco Lifesciences, who have raised big-ticket rounds this year, have drawn up global expansion plans and are reportedly exploring listing plans.
Singapore-based cancer diagnostics company MiRXES raised $77 million in Series C funding led by CR-CP Life Science Fund. Founded in 2014, MiRXES is a spin-off from Singapore’s AStar. MiRXES will use the proceeds to double its global talent pool to 400 over the next two years. MiRXES has operations in China, Japan and the US.
Singapore-based Esco Lifesciences closed an oversubscribed $200-million Series A and crossover round led by Vivo Capital and Novo Holdings. Esco is targeting strategic bolt-on M&As, an accelerated expansion in China and setting up an innovation hub in Boston. Esco is looking at building a global life sciences ecosystem between Singapore, the US and China, with Singapore as the focal nexus.
21. Rise of the crypto asset class in SE Asia: Will the frenzy last?
Jeth Soetoyo, Founder & CEO, Pintu
Hemant Mohapatra, Partner, Lightspeed
Alex Svanevik, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Nansen
Interest in the cryptocurrency space has accelerated globally since the beginning of last year as institutional investors embrace the emerging alternative asset class. Mirroring the global trends, crypto-related startups in SE Asia have also reported increased user traction and deal activity.
In this panel, we feature two startups who have landed double-digit funding, and a seasoned global investor bullish on the crypto space.
Singapore-based Ethereum analytics platform Nansen has recently raised $12 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz. The startup focuses on Ethereum research because there is more activity on the blockchain than bitcoin, which can only be used as a currency, believes Nansen’s co-founder and chief executive Alex Svanevik, who has a background in AI and first got interested in crypto in 2017.
Indonesian cryptocurrency exchange Pintu recently landed a $35-million Series A+ funding round led by US-based Lightspeed Venture Partners barely months after it raised $6 million in its Series A financing. Launched in April 2020, Pintu is a licenced crypto broker whose platform is designed for both entry-level and experienced crypto investors. Indonesia is home to over 6.6 million crypto investors as of June 2021, roughly triple the 2.2 million public equity investors. Pintu CEO Jeth Soetoyo believes there is an immense opportunity for retail investors to gain access to the diversified and dynamic investment opportunities.
Pintu-backer Lightspeed has backed over 17 crypto and blockchain companies globally. Partner Hemant Mohapatra feels crypto is at an inflection point to become an important asset class globally and will give rise to massive companies that will become regional leaders.
Despite growing investor interest, there are concerns related to the opaqueness of the crypto market, the volatility of its prices and tightening regulatory scrutiny on the nascent industry. Join this session to get a nuanced perspective on the niche sector.
22. The Philippines catching investors’ attention but can it deliver?
Minette B. Navarrete, Co-founder, President & Vice-Chairman, Kickstart Ventures, Inc.
Franco Varona, Founding Partner, Foxmont Capital Partners
Lawrence Chu, Co-founder, Oriente
With favourable demographics, policy changes and an accelerated pace of digital adoption, the Philippines’ startup landscape is finally catching the interest of investors, particularly in the fintech and e-commerce space.
Of the 112-million-strong population, nearly 70% remains unbanked, leaving a huge addressable market for financial services. To top it, as the country’s middle-class continues to grow, about 70 million Filipinos are expected to be using smartphones by 2025, leading to the creation of a potentially new market for online consumers.
According to DealStreetAsia’s Data Vantage statistics, global investors were involved in $170 million worth of fundraising in the Philippines in the past 21 months. Compare this to 15 deals that raised a total of $25 million in 2019, signalling an increase in interest in the emerging market.
This panel will explore the potential of the market and the top themes investors are betting on and why.
Our first panelist is Minette B. Navarrete, vice-chairman and president of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., the corporate venture capital subsidiary of Globe Telecom. Kickstart Ventures is backed by Globe Telecom, Ayala Corporation, and Singtel. Kickstart Ventures manages the Philippines’ largest technology venture capital funds, investing globally in early- to growth-stage tech startups via three funds, including Ayala-backed Active Fund, which closed at $180 million last year. In 2019, Kickstart managed to secure a big exit when Indonesia’s Gojek acquired its portfolio company Coins.ph. Its portfolio includes Xendit, Zalora, Snapcart, Nextpay, mClinica, among others.
We have Franco Varona, managing partner, Foxmont Capital Partners, which invests in early-stage Filipino-focused and Filipino-founded startups. Foxmont’s portfolio includes Edukasyon, Nextpay, Booky, Edamama, among others. He is also a co-founder and director in the boutique agency Global Media Post. Prior to Foxmont, he was the founding general manager of Grab Philippines.
Our third panelist is Lawrence Chu, co-founder, Oriente, a Hong Kong-based fintech startup that has a deep presence in the Philippines. Oriente is the parent company of Finmas, Cashalo and Finizi, three online lenders based in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, respectively. Chu has over 16 years of international investment experience and founded investment company BlackPine. For Oriente, the Philippines and Indonesia are two of its strongest markets that have seen significant user traction and growth. Oriente most recently raised $50 million Series B funding. In 2018, it raised $105 million equity from the founders and a group of family offices including members of Malaysia’s Berjaya Group, the Philippines’ JG Summit Holdings, and Indonesia’s Sinar Mas.
Join this session to know more about SE Asia’s untapped market.