Singapore-based Forge Ventures has raised around $20 million for its debut seed fund backed by the Asian multi-family office Alto Partners, several sources aware of the matter told DealStreetAsia.
Alto Partners’s official website shows that Forge Ventures, launched in 2021, is Alto’s first “friends and family venture capital fund”. Forge’s two co-founders and partners, Tiang Lim and Kaspar Hidayat, are also listed as partners at Alto Partners on the website.
DealStreetAsia has reached out to Forge Ventures for comment.
Forge’s Lim and Hidayat are experienced investors in Southeast Asia. Lim was previously the partner of SeedPlus, a Jungle Ventures-backed seed investor, which decided to discontinue operations after fully deploying its first $18 million fund, as reported by DealStreetAsia in February 2020.
Lim’s LinkedIn page also shows that he is an active partner at Next Billion Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm investing in startups in global emerging markets. He is also an active angel investor in startups such as Rukita, Qoala, Homage, Neuron Mobility, and CardUp.
Hidayat, on the other hand, has experience investing in Indonesia. He is currently listed as the managing partner of Maloekoe Ventures, an Indonesia-based venture capital firm. He previously served as principal at Singapore’s Koru Partners for close to two years, prior to which he was the investment manager at Venturra Capital.
In August this year, Forge had led a $1.5 million pre-seed funding in the Vietnamese edtech startup Marathon. The round was joined by Venturra Discovery, iSeed SEA, and undisclosed angel investors.
Meanwhile, Alto Partners describes itself as one of Asia’s first multi-family offices founded by, and for, the region’s leading entrepreneurs and next-generation investors. It offers services across family office administration, investment management, and principal investments.
Alto invests in early-stage or pre-Series A startups, with room to participate in later-stage opportunities. Some of its portfolio companies include the Singapore neo-banking startup StashFin, Indonesia’s Kiddo, customer feedback firm Rateit, and edtech startup Cialfo.
A dearth of seed funding
The launch of Forge’s fund comes as the PE-VC community has long cited a dearth of investors in the seed stage in Southeast Asia. Industry observers say startups often struggle to find investors willing to write cheques below $1 million.
Southeast Asia’s seed-stage investors include names such as 500 Southeast Asia, Wavemaker Partners, and Cocoon Capital. The region also has a number of accelerator programmes such as Entrepreneur First and Antler.
In August, DealStreetAsia had reported that 500 Southeast Asia had raised $17.9 million so far for its latest VC fund, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Meanwhile, Singapore and Los Angeles-based Wavemaker Partners is raising its fourth Southeast Asia-focused fund, with a target corpus of $120 million, showed a disclosure made by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in March.
In recent months, larger venture firms such as B Capital, Sequoia Capital (via Sequoia Surge), and even institutional investors like Temasek Holdings have begun looking at earlier-stage deals, a sign that investors are vying to grab deals earlier in the pipeline.
Seed investors are also raising larger funds as they grow in size and maturity.
These include names such as Singapore- and Los Angeles-based Wavemaker Partners. The deep tech seed-stage investor is raising its fourth Southeast Asia-focused fund with a target corpus of $120 million, according to a disclosure made by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in March.