Singapore: Openspace Ventures bullish on fintech, marketplace sectors

Openspace Ventures founding partner Hian Goh.

Fresh off from closing its second fund at its $135-million hard cap, Singapore-based venture capital firm Openspace Ventures is eyeing more investments before 2018 draws to a close.

The VC firm is still bullish on the fintech sector, as well as the e-commerce sector, according to its founding partner, Hian Goh.

“By end of the year, we’re looking at another fintech investment and another marketplace investment. We’re also still very bullish on e-commerce. We think e-commerce is just the beginning if you look at China. It’s not just Indonesia, it’s a regional thing,” he said in an interaction with DEALSTREETIASIA.

Founded in 2014 by Goh and Shane Chesson, Openspace Ventures was formerly known as NSI Ventures, a unit of private equity firm Northstar Group. This April, it underwent a rebranding exercise and went independent.

Fund II’s predecessor was closed at $90 million in 2015. Including Fund I, the VC firm now has a total of $225 million in committed capital (excluding co-investments) from its LPs such as Stepstone Group and Temasek Holdings.

Openspace is perhaps best known in the region for being one of the early backers of Indonesia ride-hailing major Go-Jek, which recently launched its services in Vietnam through Go-Viet and is said to launch in Singapore this month.

To date, it has a total of 19 portfolio companies under its belt including Singaporean e-commerce company Love, Bonito; Vietnamese online education startup Topica; and Indonesian fintech startup FinAccel.

Beyond the firm’s track record, it is also interesting to take a look at the people behind Openspace. Investment banker-turned-entrepreneur Goh founded Asian Food Channel (AFC) in 2005 and then sold it to US TV network Scripps Networks Interactive for $66 million in 2013. AFC was the region’s first Asian pay-TV food channel that had a reach of about 8-million subscribers in 11 markets.

The other co-founder, Chesson, also a former investment banker, has 14 years of investment experience – particularly in Asia, when he started Openspace with Goh.

Last year, the firm also recruited Nichapat Ark to oversee Openspace’s Thailand coverage. Ark was most recently an executive committee member as well as managing director and head of financial markets for Standard Chartered Bank in Thailand.

Edited excerpts:

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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.