Ratan Tata-backed SeedPlus closes debut fund to invest in Asia
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Singapore: Singapore-based SeedPlus Fund I has reached its final close—surpassing the targeted SG$25 million ($17.9 million)—with backing from Cisco Investments, the investment arm of Cisco Systems Inc., as well as Eight Roads Ventures, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International Ltd.
SeedPlus is a seed-stage venture fund launched by Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital (VC) firm. Seedplus is backed by SGInnovate, Accel Partners (India) and Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates, among others.
International Finance Corp. (IFC), a unit of the World Bank Group, had also recently announced its participation with a $2 million investment.
“The SeedPlus investment aligns with IFC’s Venture Capital group’s strategy to invest in venture capital funds that support innovative technology companies across emerging markets,” said Pravan Malhotra, IFC’s venture capital lead for South-East Asia and Asia Internet investments.
“Today, there are several fast-evolving, transformative technologies disrupting key industry sectors, enabling entrepreneurship and innovation to flourish in emerging markets, particularly in South-East Asia, which we see as a growing market for us this year,” Malhotra added.
SeedPlus is run by three operating partners—Michael Smith Jr., who was chief technology officer (CTO) at streaming service HOOQ, former Spotify product manager Gabriel Lundberg and Tiang Lim Foo, who led Evernote Corp.’s market development in Asia Pacific.
The firm also announced the joining of Chirayu Wadke as a partner leading Internet of Things (IoT) investments. Prior to this, Wadke led strategic business development for a number of product areas at Google Inc. in California.
In an interview with DealStreetAsia, Foo explained: “Given the experience and network of the team, we tend to look at ourselves as operating partners to the start-up teams we work with. There’s definitely a huge element of bringing our past operating experiences from companies like Spotify, Google, Yahoo and Evernote where I was from, to partner with product and deep tech-driven founders and start-ups.”
Given the limited partners (LPs), or investors backing the fund, Foo also notes the potential for co-investments.
“I think this continues the trend of working with world-class limited partners that bring not just capital but amazing expertise, a global network and a unique viewpoint on the global marketplace. It’s exciting to engage Cisco across many divisions in Singapore to help our portfolio companies get exposure to Cisco in very unique ways.”
“With Fidelity, their Eight Roads division is very instrumental in funding and helping growth-stage companies around the world and with this partnership we can bring their expertise to seed stage companies in South-East Asia. The same spirit of partnership extends across our other LPs, as well,” he added.
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SeedPlus is also supported by Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore, given its focus on investing in and helping build start-up ventures operating across software-as-a-service (SaaS), financial technology, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security and other emerging technology areas.
SeedPlus invests up to S$1 million in start-ups in Asia and is focused on investing in companies that target large addressable markets in the region or globally.
Some recent examples include Moglix, an Indian B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce platform specialising in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) industry; Mimetic.ai, a Singaporean technology start-up responsible for creating Evie, an artificial intelligence (AI) scheduling assistant; and Homage, a Singapore-based start-up that connects in-home caregivers with elderly people seeking assistance. DealStreetAsia