New Singapore venture builder announces its first 4 startup seed investments
Four Singaporean startups have raised seed funding from the Javelin Startup-O Victory Fund. The fund is a Singapore-based investment vehicle that’s operated by Startup-O and financial services company Javelin.
Startup-O is a Singapore-based venture builder that aims to connect startups to seed funding and a network of investors and market experts. It puts businesses through a 10-week process that involves a detailed look into their business, advice, and evaluation. Startups can participate in the program online from any location across Southeast Asia.
The four Singapore-based startups that raised seed funding are:
- AI recruitment chatbot maker Impress.ai
- IoT connectivity startup Whizspace
- Online business software provider Serv
- Tech hiring startup HackerTrail
It’s not disclosed how much each startup actually raised, as all of them are currently in the process of securing further investment for their rounds. Startup-O CEO Anuj Jain explains to Tech in Asia that while the fund puts in an initial seed investment, afterwards the startups get connected to more external investors.
Impress.ai, for example, first announced its seed funding in April, but is currently in talks with investors to top it up.
Startup-O plans to close three more deals by end of July, Jain says, without revealing specifics.
Startup-O started taking in startups in November 2016. Since then, 159 startups have been selected to go through the program out of 308 that applied.
Startups applying for the program are measured using several different parameters. The numbers are crunched by software to determine the most promising ones. Those are connected to experts working with Startup-O, who advise them on their business model and perform due diligence on their tech and financials.
The fund targets raising US$20 million over two years, but it’s raising the money in increments for each batch of businesses. Jain doesn’t reveal participating investors in the fund. He only shares that they’re mostly comprised of high-value individuals who wanted an alternative, more data-based approach than angel investing, and family offices who value having a portfolio of curated startups to invest in.
Startup-O doesn’t take any equity in the startups it backs up front. Jain says the firm values the founder’s ability to deliver good results and that the fund’s confidence in its due diligence process gives it peace of mind.
The fund invests in three to five startups per program, between US$100,000 and US$500,000 each.
After going through the abovementioned 10-week program, the fund invests in three to five startups per batch, between US$100,000 and US$500,000 each. The program repeats quarterly.
“Focused on Southeast Asian markets, we observed that innovation is happening everywhere but access to necessary resources for early-stage startups is still old-school, biased, and inefficient,” Jain says.
He claims that through Startup-O’s method, founders can save time otherwise spent shopping their company around and avoid too much dilution of their equity. Investors in the fund, meanwhile, get access to a portfolio of growing companies that have been vetted by the firm.
Jain feels the fund’s model is more sustainable and more data-driven than one run by an accelerator. Plus, because it’s online, it doesn’t require the companies to relocate to where it’s based, and it provides more follow-on support through its networks and investors, he says.
Startup-O is currently accepting applications for the next batch starting this August.
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