One of the most notable updates in the Southeast Asian tech startup ecosystem is the number of new funds and upcoming investments being announced throughout November.
On November 26, 37 VC firms announced their commitment to invest more than US$800 million over next three to five years in the Vietnam startup ecosystem, once again securing the country’s position as the next big thing in the region when it comes to tech investment.
Indonesia has been a popular destination for investors, and in November, local VC firms are showing up their teeth with their latest funds. Interestingly, these VCs are those with ties to state-owned enterprises: Telkom’s MDI Ventures returned with their US$40 million fund, the result of its collaboration with Finch Capital while BRI Ventures announced the first close of their US$10 million funds. This one included Southeast Asian tech giant Grab as one of its investors.
November also saw the debut of completely new firms. The-Wolfpack, an early-stage startup fund in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) sector, was launched in Singapore with a US$5 million fund. In addition to them, Singapore-based Beamstart, the company behind global entrepreneurial platform and resource database beamstart.com, is launching a US$10 million digital accelerator fund for Southeast Asia.
Another country that has gathered attention in November was the Philippines. In the past, there had been concerns regarding the country’s ability to produce a unicorn startup like others in the region. But these investors and their focus might provide new hope: New Wave, a subsidiary of Philippines-based IP E-Game Ventures, has signed an agreement with Malaysia’s boutique investment firm Emissary Capital to set up a US$50-million fund for ASEAN startups.
In addition to that, Gobi-Core Philippine Fund also disclosed an investment in local live-streaming startup Kumu. It is also set to invest in a total of seven startups by end-2021.
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Myanmar also gained attention as Ascent Capital closes its debut Myanmar-focused fund at US$88 million.
Hustle Fund, a US- and Singapore-based pre-seed VC investor, has also hit the first close of its second fund at US$30 million.
Funding history in November
At this rate, we no longer need to be convinced about the ability of Southeast Asian tech startup ecosystem to get through the pandemic; investments continue to trickle into the region despite challenges here and there.
As always, some verticals –such as fintech– were more popular than the rest. A recent Startup Genome report had named Jakarta and Singapore as the top global fintech ecosystem, and this is strengthened by the number and size of deals in the ecosystems.
In November, in addition to a relative newcomer such as Finantier with its undisclosed pre-seed funding round, we witnessed funding announcements from major names such as Kredivo (a US$100 million funding round), Investree (US$15 million) and LinkAja (US$100 million in Series B).
Both companies are aiming to further strengthen their support to local SMEs. This also confirmed various predictions of fintech being one of the most resilient verticals during the pandemic.
Talking about big names, Indonesia-based unicorns such as gojek (with state-owned mobile operator Telkomsel as an investor) and Bukalapak (with Microsoft as an investor) had also been reported to raise funding.
Other popular sectors that had also raised fundings in November included edutech (Kyt, LingoAce, and AOne), logistics (Pickupp, Logisly), proptech (Aqwire), healthtech (Alodokter), and biotech (Krosslinker).
Some of the more unique verticals have also announced funding rounds in November.
There were plenty of investments being made in sectors related to the F&B industries: MadEats (which counted Tinder co-founder as investor), Mangkokku (a US$2 million funding round), Food Market Hub (a US$4 million Series A), and Hi So (which includes an ex-Senator of Japan as an investor).
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The COVID-19 pandemic itself has been seen as a “wake-up call” for the F&B industry to start adapting and transforming itself digitally. These funding announcements might be an indication of actions taken by both investors and industry players.
Another segment that has gotten popular during the pandemic is media and content. We saw major funding announcements by theAsianparent; there were also announcements from Quintype and Sociabuzz.
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