Grab Ventures, the venture arm of Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing giant Grab, is planning to launch the third batch of its accelerator programme, Grab Ventures Velocity (GVV), with an aim to attract early-stage, post-seed startups engaged in sectors aligned to its core business.
“We are already thinking for batch 3, but we have yet to determine the time [to launch the third batch]. Possibly, it would be later this year. We are yet to set the theme, but we want to empower entrepreneurs that are related to our core business,” Grab Ventures head Chris Yeo said.
GVV is part of Grab Ventures’ commitment to invest $250 million in Indonesian startups under its ‘Grab 4 Indonesia 2020 Master Plan.’ The master plan aims to support the country’s dream to be the largest Southeast Asian digital economy by 2020.
The company recently selected 10 startups for the second batch of GVV, with seven of them from Indonesia (Eragano, PergiUmroh, Porter, Sayurbox, Tanihub, Tamasia, and Qoala), two from Singapore (Treedots and GLife), and one from Malaysia (MyCash Online).
The startups were chosen from among 150 applicants, with the majority hailing from Southeast Asia. For the second batch, Grab chose early-stage startups that focus on empowering farmers who could disrupt the food value chain.
The selected startups will have access to Grab’s internal and external network of C-level advisors and experts. Moreover, they will also able to leverage GrabPlatform resources such as Grab’s cloud APIs, and Kudo resources to accelerate their product development.
Following the programme, Yeo said, Grab may invest in them or offer a commercial partnership scheme, which could subsequently be incorporated into its platform. However, the VC is yet to determine the amount to be invested in the prospective startups, he added.
“We don’t know the amount yet because they [startups] are in a different stage of development and we need to see their performance first,” said Yeo.
But it is possible that Grab could fully acquire the company if it has a very strong synergy and strategic value, Yeo added.
Focus theme for each batch
Yeo said that the second batch was focused around a theme to have a more specific and targeted selection.
“In the first batch, there are some of the businesses that are not relevant for our business,” Yeo said referring to the first batch of GVV.
For the first batch, Grab had selected five startups from among 500 applicants. The startups included – Helpling, an online platform for home services; Tueetor, that connects educators and students; BookMyShow Indonesia, a local unit of Indian-based online ticketing portal for cinemas and events; Sejasa, a home improvement marketplace; and Minutes, an online salon booking service.
“Some startups have good synergy with our customers base. On the flipside, the first batch was general without a theme. We attracted a lot of applicants across sectors. That’s why for the second batch we planned to be more specific and targeted,” he said.
Yeo said, Grab Ventures has been eyeing the late-stage startups for its investment beyond the GVV programme.
Outside of GVV, the VC has invested in Series B to Series C funding round of startups with a focus on the sectors that could support the unicorn’s core business.
“Firstly [we chose] those that [have] adjacent business to our core verticals business, such as transportation. For example, mapping operators. The second one is the financial payment services. Then the food sector, because we do Grab Food and we look at the entire food value chain. The fourth one is logistics because of Grab Express service,” Yeo said.
He said the VC also looks at the horizontal capabilities or areas for enabling technology such as AI-driven startups.
“So the role of GVV is more for discovery for us because it attracts inbound applicants. It helps us find the earlier stage startups, while Grab Ventures itself is more focused on later stage startups,” Yeo added.