AngelList-backed iSeed has launched a new micro fund for Southeast Asia, marking its entry into the region.
The fund is led by Wing Vasiksiri, a former AngelList and 500 Startups investor in the US, who will oversee the fund’s investments from Bangkok. iSeed SEA will write cheque sizes in the $100,000-250,000 range across 20 to 30 companies in Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
The firm declined to reveal its fund size but said that it has reached its first close and has begun deploying into two companies. It plans to fully close its fund by the end of this year.
iSeed’s entry into Southeast Asia comes at a time when COVID-19 is hurting fundraising prospects for many founders in the region. Travel restrictions are just one part of the problem. Southeast Asia’s seed capital remains limited and is quickly drying up due to an overwhelming amount of venture money raised at the pre-Series A to Series A levels.
“Some of the first generation seed funds are raising subsequent larger funds – like $100 million funds. If you’re investing from a $100 million fund, it’s very hard to be a seed fund. You kind of by definition, have to move downstream to do Series A investments. So we saw this gap open up in the market,” explained Wing Vasiksiri, Managing Partner and co-founder, iSeed SEA.
Vasikiri also observed a number of inflection points in the Southeast Asian ecosystem – such as the rise of unicorns like Grab and Gojek, the openness among local talent to embrace entrepreneurship, and the region’s relative nascence compared to more “proven” markets like China, India and the US.
He also cited iSeed’s connection with AngelList and multiple US and Indian founders and partners as a key advantage for the firm – something few Southeast Asian investors have at the moment.
iSeed SEA boasts a strong lineup of limited partners including AngelList’s founder and chairman, Naval Ravikant; Snapdeal’s CEO and COO, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal respectively; Thumbtack’s founder, Jonathan Swanson; AngelList partner, Jake Zeller; Better Tomorrow Ventures founder and general partner, Sheel Mohnot; and DSG Consumer Partners founder and managing director, Deepak Shahdadpuri. Its anchor LP is AngelList US.
iSeed’s foray into Southeast Asia follows the launch of its debut India fund in May, which adopts a similar strategy of writing “micro-seed” cheques of about $150,000 across 30 early-stage companies in the market. The fund is led by Utsav Somani, who first brought AngelList to India.
Edited excerpts of the interview with Wing Vasiksiri, Managing Partner and co-founder, iSeed SEA:-