Forge Ventures said to have raised up to $20m for debut seed fund backed by Alto Partners

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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.

They also point to the lack of seed investors for startups in niche sectors such as deep tech, which require significant levels of industry expertise and experience.

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.

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.