Founder of Japanese e-commerce player Beenos launches $60m VC fund targeting ASEAN, India

Taj Mahal.Credit: Flickr/Sandeep Chetan Travel

Japanese e-commerce operator Beenos Inc’s founder, Teruhide Sato, has set up a $60-million venture capital (VC) fund targeting investments in technology ventures in India and Southeast Asia.

According to the details in a Bloomberg report, the new VC fund, Beenext, is Singapore-based and will be targeting ventures in the Internet and mobile technology space in India, according to Sato. Beenos has committed $5 million to the fund, according to statements from spokesperson Nagisa Okano made to Bloomberg.

Currently residing in Singapore, Sato is launching the fund after exiting his CEO role at Beenos in December 2014. Sato founded Beenos’s predecessor, Netprice.com Ltd (page in Japanese) in 1999 and led its initial public offering (IPO) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2004. As of 7 September 2015, Beenos maintains a market capitalisation of $202.99 million.

Sato started his career at SoftBank Group, working on e-commerce payments project. During his leadership of Beenos, it invested in more than 20 technology companies. Among these was Indonesian online retailer PT Tokopedia, where it led a Series C funding round alongside SBI Investment.

The limited partners in the fund include Beenos and also several investors credited as serial entrepreneurs who have built companies in Japan, the US, and Southeast Asia, according to an official release. “Through this investment and strategic partnership, we look to expand our reach in emerging markets and the US, and also maximize our investment returns,” a statement from Beenos said.

Also Read: Singapore leads in Indian FDI inflows

Beenos has been focused on the cross-border e-commerce space and investing in marketplace and online payment businesses in emerging markets. As a seed accelerator, it has invested in over 50 companies in Japan, while its investment arm has made over 85 investments globally.

Explaining the focus of his fund on India, Sato explained: “India is one of my strong investment focuses. It’s a country where entrepreneurs will increasingly lead by using innovative technologies to help solve issues such as power shortages and a lack of solid social infrastructure.”

The decision to base the fund in Singapore is partly motivated by Singapore’s simple and business-friendly tax system, which is favourable to holding companies, according to KPMG research.

This helps to both attract investors to the city-state, as well as strengthen its position as a holding-company location for outbound investment, notably for entering the Asian emerging markets. Singapore is well-positioned to serve as a gateway to the Indian market, due to more than just its geographical proximity and cultural links with the subcontinent.

In 2014, the city-state was India’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN, accounting for approximately 28 percent of ASEAN-India trade and Singapore’s eleventh largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to S$25.5 billion in 2013.

India has seen significant venture capital developments, with Blume Ventures, Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, Intel Capital and Helion Venture Partners leading investments in the Indian startup ecosystem. According to CB Insights, from 2009 to 2014, Blume Ventures, Accel Partners and 500 Startups were the most active foreign VCs in India.

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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.