Asia is one of the most important startup and technology markets in the world.
The leader in the region is China with its ruthlessly competitive ride-sharing market, a surging venture investment ecosystem shaped by corporate giants and the government alike, and a surprisingly large crop of still-private companies valued at billions of dollars.
But pay no short shrift to Southeast Asia. Startup investors certainly aren’t ignoring startups in the region. But what about the investors who back those venture capitalists?
That’s a bet 500 TukTuks, the Thailand-based outpost of 500 Startups, is apparently willing to take.
500 TukTuk’s Second Fund
The micro VC firm filed paperwork with the SEC earlier today for its second flagship fund. According to the filing, 500 TukTuks II, L.P. is targeting $20 million in its capital raise. This is a bump up from 500 TukTuks’s first fund, which was announced in July 2016 and topped out at about $15.4 million.
The following folks are listed on the filing for Fund II:
- Christine Tsai, the managing director of 500 Startups.
- Ruangroj “Krating” Poonpol, a telecoms executive turned startup educator, who currently serves as 500 TukTuks’s managing director.
- Nattavudh “Moo” Pungcharoengpong, founding CEO of Ookbee and a venture partner with 500 TukTuks since its first fund.
At the time of filing, no LP capital has been closed for the second fund.
500 TukTuks and 500 Startups have made a number of investments in Thailand-based companies, including payments gateway Omise, car insurance claim management platform Claim Di, and fashion ecommerce site Pomelo, among others.
The Rise Of Thai Startups
This second fund could be advantageously timed, considering that Thailand’s startup scene has really ballooned in just the past few years. The chart below displays the count of reported venture rounds raised by Thailand’s startups between 2012 and the end of 2017.
2017 was a pivotal year for Thailand’s startup ecosystem. An end-of-year report compiled by Vitavin Itti, a Southeast Asia-focused startup investor, uncovered some important events from the year:
- Thai corporations began spinning up their own corporate startup investment funds.
- The country’s government approved draft amendments to the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand, which would implement a legal framework for preferred shares, employee stock options plans, and convertible debt instruments.
- Chinese companies like JD.com, Tencent, and Alibaba are forming joint ventures with local Thai upstarts.
Another end-of-year report, this time compiled by TechSauce, a Thailand tech publication, found that fifteen new venture funds formed in Thailand raised at least $305.78 million between 2016 and 2017,
500 Startups’s Asian Portfolio Strategy
500 TukTuks is just one of many hyper-regional Asian investment funds affiliated with 500 Startups. Here’s a selection:
- Korea-focused 500 Kimchi announced a $15 million fund back in 2015.
- 500 Startups Japan launched a $35 million fund and accelerator program called 500 Kobe
- 500 Kulfi is a fund with $25 million to invest in Indian startups. It was announced back in 2016.
Crunchbase News has also covered various goings-on at 500 Durians, a Singapore-based fund which invests broadly across Southeast Asia. According to the firm’s website, it has portfolio companies distributed across six countries. 500 Durians raised $22.2 million in its first flagship fund and $50 million in its second.
Back in April, Crunchbase News covered a filing for what turned out to be a $21.18 million special purpose vehicle (SPV) raised by 500 Durians to invest in the $85 million Series C round raised by Carousell, an extant portfolio company.
500 Startups did not respond to requests for comment prior to initial publication.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias