VCs give us their predictions for startups and tech in Southeast Asia in 2019 – TechCrunch


The brand new yr is nicely underway and, earlier than January is out, we polled VCs in Southeast Asia to get their ideas on what to anticipate in 2019.

The variety of VCs within the area has elevated massively lately, in no small half on account of forecasts of development within the tech area as web entry continues to shoot up amongst Southeast Asia’s cumulative inhabitants of greater than 600 million shoppers.

There are different components, together with financial development and rising center courses, however with greater than Three.eight million individuals changing into first-time web customers every month — due to smartphones — Southeast Asia’s ‘digital financial system’ is tipped to greater than triple to achieve $240 billion by 2025. That leaves loads of alternative for tech and on-line companies and, by extension, enterprise capitalists.

With a VC corpus that now numbers dozens of funding companies, TechCrunch requested the individuals who write the checks what’s on the horizon for 2019.

The one rule was not more than three predictions — under, in no explicit order, is what they advised us.

Alberty Shyy, Burda

Funds will proceed to take a position aggressively in Southeast Asia within the first half of this yr however capital will tighten up by This autumn as funds and corporations put together for a attainable recession. I feel we’ll see quite a lot of corporations opportunistically exit to fundraise in Q1/Q2 to make the most of a bull market.

We are going to see two to 3 newly-minted unicorns from the area this yr, after a relative lull final yr.

This may (lastly) be the yr that we begin to see some consolidation within the e-commerce scene

Dmitry Levit, Centro

A significant slice of capital returned by upcoming U.S. IPOs to institutional traders might be directed to development markets exterior of China, with India and Southeast Asia being the likeliest beneficiaries. Various belongings similar to enterprise and subsets of personal fairness in rising markets will enter their golden age.

The withdrawal of Chinese language strategic gamers held again by weakened home financial system, prudent M&A by native strategics and ongoing warning amongst Japanese, Korean and world corporates, mixed with ongoing valuations exuberance by late-stage traders allocating funds to Southeast Asia, will proceed holding again massive liquidity occasions. Save maybe for a roll-up of an area champion or two into a world IPO. Fundraising will get extra troublesome for a few of Southeast Asia’s bigger unprofitable market leaders. Lack of marquee liquidity occasions and curtailed entry to late-stage capital for some will lead to a couple seen failures (our cash is on the subsidy-heavy wallets!) and a short lived burst of short-term skepticism round Southeast Asia as an funding vacation spot in the direction of the tip of 2019.

The development in the direction of the emergence of value-chain particular funds and fund managers will proceed, as digitalization is reaching ever additional into quite a few trade sectors and as Southeast Asia hosts an growing portion of worldwide provide chains. We foresee no less than dozen new enterprise companies and automobiles rising in 2019 with clear sector-led funding thesis across the place of Southeast Asian economies within the world worth chains of vogue trade, agriculture and meals; labour, healthcare companies; manufacturing, building tech and so forth, with funding groups which have the mandatory experience to unravel this growing complexity.

Willson Cuaca, East Ventures

Jakarta turns into Southeast Asia’s startup capital surpassing Singapore by way of the variety of offers and funding quantity.

As Indonesia’s startup scene heats up, regional seed and sequence A funds transfer away from Indonesia and goal Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines (in market precedence order).

Southeast will get two new unicorns.

Rachel Lau, RHL Ventures

North Asian corporations will present well-needed liquidity as they withdraw capital from developed American and European markets because of the Federal Reserve’s actions. The FED raised rates of interest and decreased the dimensions of its stability sheet (by not changing the bonds that had been maturing at a fee of $50 billion a month). This has been seen within the latest fundraising train by Southeast Asian unicorns. Seize has just lately seen a powerful listing of North Asian traders similar to Mirae, Toyota and Yamaha . A latest stat said that 85 p.c of the funding of Southeast Asia startups have gone to billion greenback unicorn similar to Seize and Gojek, bypassing the early stage startups which are extra in want for funding, this development is predicted to proceed. Due to this fact, we’ll see early-stage corporations and enterprise capitalists changing into extra centered on producing money movement from working operations as an alternative as fundraising actions change into harder.

A development in urbanization in Southeast will create new job alternatives in small/medium companies, as evident in China. At present, solely 12 p.c of Asia’s city inhabitants stay in megacities, whereas 4 p.c stay in cities of fewer than 300,000 inhabitants. New corporations will see the blurred strains between brick and mortar companies vs pure on-line companies. Up to now yr or so, now we have seen increasingly more offline companies going surfing and extra on-line companies going offline.

Fertility charges within the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam exceed 2.1 births per girl — the extent that sustains a inhabitants — however charges under 1.5 in Singapore and Thailand imply their populations will decline with out immigration. As we see extra startup actions coming to Southeast Asian international locations, we anticipate to see extra certified international expertise transferring to the area vs staying in low development American and European international locations.

Kay-Mok Ku, Gobi Ventures

First Chinese language “Seaward” Unicorn in Southeast Asia. Lately, a rising variety of Chinese language startups are concentrating on abroad markets from the get go (generally known as Chuhai 出海 or “Seaward”). These Chinese language entrepreneurs usually carry with them greatest practices in shopper advertising and marketing and product growth honed by a hyper-competitive residence market, supported by sturdy, devoted technical group based mostly out of China and more and more capitalized by Chinese language VCs which have raised billion-dollar funds.

Consolidation amongst ASEAN Unicorns. Whereas ASEAN now boasts 10 unicorns, they’re duplicative within the sense that multiple exists in a selected class, which is unsustainable for winner-takes-all markets. For instance, within the ASEAN ride-hailing area, whereas one unicorn is busy with regional geographic enlargement, the opposite merely co-exists by staying centered on scope enlargement inside its residence market. This may by no means occur in a single nation market like China however now that the ASEAN experience hailing unicorns are lastly locking horns, the stage could also be set for a Didi-Kuadi like situation to unfold.

ASEAN jumps on Chinese language 5G bandwagon. The tech world sooner or later will doubtless bifurcate into American and Chinese language-led platforms. As it’s, rising markets are adopting Chinese language enterprise fashions based mostly on bite-sized fee and have embraced Chinese language cell apps usually bundled with low cost Chinese language smartphones. Trying forward, 5G might be a recreation changer as its influence goes past smartphones to generic IoT gadgets, having strategic implications for industries similar to autonomous driving. Consequently, the US-China Commerce Warfare will doubtless evolve right into a Tech Warfare and ASEAN might be compelled to decide on aspect.

Darren Tan, Golden Equator Capital

We’re excited by development within the AI and deep tech sectors. The main focus has typically been on consumer-focused tech in Southeast Asia as an rising market, however we’re beginning to see proprietary options emerge for industries similar to medtech and fintech. AI additionally has nice applicability throughout a variety of shopper sectors in decreasing reliance on manpower and creating price financial savings.

Knowledge analytics to uncover organizational efficiencies and buyer traits will proceed to be much more broadly used, however there may also be higher emphasis on securing such information particularly confidential info in mild of a number of high-profile information breaches in 2018. Instruments enabling the gathering, storage, safe-keeping and evaluation of knowledge might be important.

We’re seeing the emergence of extra institutional funds from North Asia. Up to now it has predominantly been Chinese language tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba, now we’re beginning to see Korean and Japanese establishments putting higher emphasis on funding within the Southeast Asian area.

Vinnie Lauria, Golden Gate Ventures

Much more capital flowing from U.S. and China into Southeast Asia, with VCs from each areas quickly to open places of work within the area

A contemporary wave of Collection A investments into Vietnam.

Ten exits over $100 million.


Amit Anand, Jungle Ventures

The emergence of a monetary companies tremendous app, suppose the Meituan or WeChat however just for monetary companies: The Southeast Asian millennial is likely one of the most underserved buyer from a monetary companies perspective whether or not it’s funds, shopper items loans, private loans, private finance administration, investments or different monetary companies. We are going to see the emergence of digital platforms that may combination all these associated companies and supply a one cease monetary companies store for this digitally native shopper.

Digitisation of SMEs might be new fintech: Southeast Asia is residence to over 100 million SMEs which are on the cusp of digital transformation. Generational change in possession, native governments push for digitization and elevated globalization have created an ideal storm for these SMEs to undertake cloud and different digital applied sciences at neck-breaking tempo. Startups focussing on this section will get mainstream consideration from the enterprise group over the subsequent few years as they search for new industries which are getting enabled or disrupted by know-how.

Kuo-Yi Lim and Peng Ong, Monk’s Hill Ventures

Lyft and Uber go public and present the path to profitability for different rideshare companies. This has constructive impact for the regional rideshare gamers but in addition places strain on them to display the identical economics in ridesharing. Regional rideshare gamers double down on super-app positioning as an alternative, to display worth in different methods as rideshare enterprise alone could not attain profitability — ever.

The commerce conflict between China and the US reaches a truce, however a basic sense of uncertainty lingers. That is now the brand new norm — issues are much less sure and corporations need to plan for extra antagonistic eventualities. Within the brief time period, Southeast Asia advantages. Corporations — Chinese language, American and so on — see Southeast Asia because the impartial floor. Funding pours in, creating jobs throughout industries. Acquisition of native champions intensifies as international gamers jostle for the lead positions.

“Remedy the issue” – tech corporations will change into extra outstanding… tech corporations which are real-estate brokers, recruiters, healthcare suppliers, meals suppliers, logistics… why: many industries are very inefficient.

Hian Goh, Openspace Ventures

Battle to high quality will occur. Fundraising throughout all levels from seed to Collection C and past might be difficult for those who don’t have the metrics. Buyers will need to see a path to profitability, or a capability to show worthwhile if the atmosphere turns into worse. This may imply Saas corporations with steady money flows, vertical e-commerce with sturdy metrics might be engaging funding alternatives.

Investor choice will change into crucial, as traders take a wait and see method. Present or new traders into corporations might be judged upon their dry powder of their funds and their skill to fund additional rounds

The regulatory threat for fintech lenders might be greater this yr, rising compliance price and uncertainty on licensing, which might result in consolidation available in the market.

Heang Chhor, Qualgro

Southeast Asia: an intensifying battlefield for tech investments

There has by no means been a lot VC cash in Southeast Asia chasing fascinating startups, in any respect life cycle levels. The 10 most energetic native and regional VCs have raised their second or third funds just lately, amassing no less than two occasions more cash than a couple of years in the past, most likely reaching a complete quantity near $1 billion. As well as, worldwide VCs have additionally doubled down on their allocation into the area, whereas prime Chinese language VCs have visibly said their intent to not miss the dynamic momentum. A number of development funds have just lately constructed an area presence with the intention to goal Southeast Asia tech corporations at Collection C and past. Not counting the quantity going to the unicorns, there may be now greater than $Three-Four billion accessible for seed to development levels, which can be Three-Four occasions the quantity of three years in the past. There are, after all, many extra good startups coming as much as make investments into. However essentially the most promising startups might be in a really favorable place to barter greater valuation and higher phrases. Nevertheless, they need to not overlook that, finally, what creates worth is how they make a distinction with their tech capabilities or their enterprise mannequin, how they purchase and retain the most effective expertise, with the funds raised, not solely how a lot cash they are going to be capable to elevate. Most native and regional company VCs are prone to lose on this extra intense funding recreation.

Important VC cash investing into so-called ‘AI-based startups’, however are there actually a lot (deep) Synthetic Intelligence capabilities round?

portion of the SEA startups declare they’ve ‘something-AI’. Buyers are overwhelmed, if not confused, by the ‘AI declare’ that they discover in most startup pitches. Whereas there isn’t any doubt that Southeast Asia will develop its personal sturdy AI-competence pool sooner or later, sadly at this time most ‘AI-based’ enterprise fashions from the area would nonetheless be simply ‘good algorithms or machine studying’ that may course of some quantity of knowledge to provide you with good-enough outcomes, that don’t at all times generate substantial enterprise worth to customers/clients. The numerous funds that a few of the very-well-funded Southeast Asia unicorns are placing into their ‘AI-based apps’ or ‘AI platform’ is unlikely to make a actual distinction for the shoppers, for lack of deep AI competences within the area. 2019 could also be one other yr of AI-promise, not realized. Hopefully, private and non-private analysis labs, universities and startups will proceed to be (way more) strongly supported (particularly by governments) to considerably construct larger AI expertise pool, which suggests rising and attracting AI expertise into the area.

Greater Collection A and Collection B rounds to gas extra convincing development trajectory, in the direction of growth-stage fundraising.

Though conditions differ lots: typical Collection A in Southeast Asia was once round $5 million, and Collection B round $10-15 million. Buyers tended to simply accept that usually corporations would elevate cash after 18 months or so, between A and B, and between B and C. There was an growing variety of bigger raises at A and B just lately, and really doubtless this development will speed up. The truth that VCs now have way more cash to deploy into every funding will contribute to this development. Nevertheless, the required milestones for elevating Collection C have change into way more round: minimal scale and really strong development (and revenue) drivers. Due to this fact, entrepreneurs must search for getting as a lot funding reserve as attainable, no matter time between raises, to construct development engines that take their corporations previous the milestones of the subsequent Collection, be it B or C. Sooner or later, we’ll see extra Collection A of $10 million and extra Collection B of well-above $20 million. Compelling companies won’t have an excessive amount of difficulties for doing so, however most Southeast Asia entrepreneurs can be sensible to be taught to extra successfully grasp fundraising expertise for capturing a lot larger quantities than previously. In fact, this assumes that their companies are compelling sufficient within the eyes of traders.

Vicknesh Pillay, TNB Aura

Out-sized valuations might be much less commonplace in 2019 as Southeast Asian traders be taught from expertise and change into extra subtle. Due to this fact, we do see alternatives at Collection A/B for undervalued offers on account of lack of early-stage funding whereas we anticipate to proceed to see the development of nearly all of enterprise capital investments going into later stage corporations (Collection C and past) on account of decrease threat urge for food and ‘herd’ mentality.

2018 has additionally seen the fast emergence of many company enterprise capital funds and innovation applications. However, 2019 will see massive companies slicing again on their allocation in the direction of startup investing which might be the simplest possibility for them in case of antagonistic information to the jittery public markets in 2019.

With the expansion of AI, the necessity for API connections and elevated thought management to embrace tech, Southeast Asia goes to see an upsurge in SaaS startups and current startups transferring to a Saas enterprise mannequin. Therefore, we anticipate elevated investments into Saas corporations centered on IoT and cybersecurity as information and software program are moved onto the cloud.

Chua Kee Lock, Vertex Ventures

Southeast Asia VC funding tempo has grown steadily and considerably since 2010 the place it began from lower than $100 million in VC funding within the area. For the primary eight months of 2018, the area’s VC funding was over $5.Four billion. For the entire of 2018, it is going to doubtless finish round $eight billion. For 2019, we anticipate the VC funding tempo to surpass 2018 stage and file between $9-10 billion. Southeast Asia will proceed to draw extra VC investments as a result of:

(1) Governments in Southeast Asia, particularly ASEAN, proceed their help coverage to encourage startups.

(2) younger demographics and the quick know-how adoption in Southeast Asia give rise to extra revolutionary and disruptive concepts.

(Three) world traders on the lookout for a greater return and can naturally deal with rising rising market like Southeast Asia.

The development in the direction of gig financial system will start to have an effect within the area. In developed economies just like the U.S, gig financial system is predicted to achieve over 40 p.c by 2020. The younger inhabitants will search for extra freelance alternatives as a strategy to enhance earnings ranges whereas nonetheless sustaining flexibility. This may embrace white-collar work like laptop programming, accounting, customer support, and so on. and likewise blue-collar work like supply companies, ride-sharing, residence companies, and so on. We consider that the gig financial system will develop to over 15 p.c in Southeast Asia by 2019.

AI-heavy or -driven startups will start to make inroads into Southeast Asia.

Victor Chua, Vynn Capital

The BIG convergence — there’ll extra integration between industries and sectors. Traveloka went into automotive rental, Blibli went into journey enterprise and these are just some examples. There’s quite a lot of synergistic worth between journey startups and meals startups or between property startups and automotive startups. Think about a future the place you journey to a metropolis the place you keep in an condo you rented by a market (like Travelio, my portfolio firm), and when it is advisable ebook a restaurant you can also make the reservation by a platform that’s built-in with the property supervisor, and when it is advisable transfer round you go right down to the automotive park to drive a automotive you hire from an automotive market. There’s clear synergy between selective industries and this results in an total convergence between corporations, between industries.

Extra channels to boost Collection B/C, early-stage corporations discover fundraising tougher — We have now seen a lot of VC funds elevating or already raised development funds, which means that there at the moment are extra channels for Collection A or B corporations to boost development rounds. Because the market matures, there might be extra competitors for investments amongst development funds as there’s significantly extra development within the variety of development funds than corporations which are elevating at growth-stage. On the flip aspect, the texture is that there’s a constant development within the variety of early-stage corporations, but the quantity of capital in early-stage funds isn’t rising as a lot as extra VCs choose larger and later levels, because of the maturity of their current portfolio corporations.

Newcomers gaining weight — there might be no less than 10 corporations that may hit a valuation of no less than $100 million. These valuations won’t be based mostly on a single market publicity. Corporations that elevate bigger rounds might want to present that they’re regional.

Due to all of the VCs who took half, I definitely felt like the category trainer amassing assignments.


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