Singapore-based alternative investment firm Leonie Hill Capital is looking to invest in Series B to D rounds of Vietnamese technology-focused companies, its CEO told this portal.
Despite the early state of the Vietnam startup ecosystem, Kant is still positive about opportunities in the startup ecosystem.
“In the later stage, you do not have a hundred startups. You may have 7-8 startups and we may invest in 2 or 3. There are companies we have seen in Vietnam which have got potential to grow into other markets. They will need funding,” Kant said.
Vietnam has so far not seen strong late stage venture capital activity. In 2015, series B and C financing rounds took up the lowest proportion of the total funding landscape at 6.5 per cent, according to a report by startup accelerator Topica Founder Institute. In 2016, there were only seven deals in excess of $10 million out of a total 50 deals.
Series B onwards rounds typically require bigger dollar amounts, but there are very few VCs to provide such capital, according to Kant.
He also pointed out that exits in the region would be tough. “The main reason is that companies are not expanding outside their comfort zone. Vietnamese companies already have a big market in the country, but they need to expand to other countries for exits to happen.”
The partners that Leonie Hill Capital plans to approach have already garnered experience in Vietnam. Topica Founder Institute is the country’s first startup accelerator that has seen a number of its incubatees raise funds in Series C rounds. Golden Gate Ventures has invested in two startups operating in the country, while Captii Ventures has financed three local startups.
Kant said that Leonie Hill Capital preferred to work in partnerships to invest in critical sectors, instead of simply chasing a market or a trend.
The firm’s recent collaborations with aerospace accelerator Starburst for a $200-million aerospace fund, and with Life.SREDA for a fintech fund have made some investments. These include drone technology projects in Japan for medical purposes and disaster relief, and fintech projects involving third-party payment systems and blockchain for logistics and banking.
“Our newest investments are now going to be in healthcare and agritech. We believe that agritech is much better than any other sector available today because as world population grows, we need to be more efficient,” said Kant.
As an alternative investment firm, Leonie Hill Capital also invests in multiple assets.
“Investing in commodities and indexes is quick money. It helps us to grow the fund without asking for outside money from investors. The profits from alternative investments can feed our VC. That money is what keeps us into the B, C and D rounds,” Kant said.