Malaysia Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (MVCA) has joined forces with ASEAN Venture Council (AVC) to become part of a larger regional network.
The agreement was signed between MVCA Chairman Shahril Anwar Mohd Yunos and AVC representative Dr. Jeffrey Chi at the ASEAN Venture Summit in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Following the deal, AVC will now consist of 4 participating VC associations on board. That is apart from MVCA, this includes Asosiasi Modal Ventura Untuk Startup Indonesia (Amvesindo), Thai Venture Capital Association, and Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.
Through linking the four national bodies together, AVC is intended to facilitate greater knowledge sharing and collaboration among venture capital firms and early-stage businesses throughout the region, in addition to closing more deals.
On top of that, Malaysia’s participation also comes at a time when their regional venture investments have more than doubled from US$1.3 billion in 2015 to more than US$3 billion in 2016.
Speaking of the deal, MVCA Chairman Shahril Anwar Mohd Yunos said, “the inclusion of MVCA will open up communications with Limited Partners, General Partners, and entrepreneurs across respective countries and provide an effective platform for fundraising, investment syndication, and exit opportunities.”
Established in September 2016, ASEAN Venture Council was initially set up by the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association with the purpose of creating a coalition to bolster inter-country relations.
It is intended to drive the development of the venture capital industry in a more concerted effort across the region leveraging on each other’s strengths and capabilities – particularly in the areas of events, advocacy, research, education, and deal flow.
Jefri Sirait, the Chairman of Amvesindo explained that “the growth of AVC translates to wider coverage and opportunities for potential deal flows.”
With the addition of MVCA as a new member country, this will strengthen the collaboration between national associations as they leverage on each other’s individual capabilities, synergies, and best practices, which in turn will support the regional entrepreneurial and financial ecosystem across the ASEAN region.
By Vivian Foo, Next Unicorn
Tokyo-based From Scratch, the startup behind integrated digital marketing platform known as b→dash, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 3.2 billion yen (about US$28.4 million) in its Series C funding round.
This latest financing round saw participation from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), Rakuten Ventures, and existing investors.
The round follows their previous 300 million yen funding in May 2015 and 1 billion yen (about US$8.3 million) funding in November of the same year.
This would bring the cumulative funds raised by the startup to a total of 4.5 billion yen (about US$40 million) to date.
Founded in 2010, the startup’s flagship product is B→dash is a web-based marketing platform that allows a company to integrate data from different points of their entire marketing process and analyze it comprehensively on a single platform.
The software provides an all-in-one function, where it will not only, but also integrate, process and utilize data relevant to marketing, such as user data, advertisement data and purchase data to help companies with their marketing process.
The startup serves major clients including Kirin Brewery and Okasan Online Securities.
From Scratch will use the funds to enhance the marketing platform, especially by strengthening data integration and data processing capability, in addition to further develop artificial intelligence technologies to provide highly accurate predictive functions, such as which sales rep should be appointed to which customers.
For strengthening the data processing capacity, Yasuhiro Abe, a representative of From Scratch said that, “It is ascertained that the marketing platform will move to the cloud in the near future, however there is still a problem of low data processing capability which hinders the movement.”
To solve this problem, Abe adds that the company will conduct R&D to realize technologies that can instantaneously process large amounts of data on the cloud.
In another development, From Scratch is also looking to develop a new marketing platform at an appropriate price range for SMEs and B2B companies.
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
Philippine’s homegrown fast food giant Jollibee Foods Corp (JFC) said on Thursday that its subsidiary JSF Investments Pte. Ltd has hiked its stakes in SuperFoods Group to 60 percent.
The 10 percent increase from its previous 50-50 ownership share comes from its partner in the joint venture, Viet Thai International Joint Stock Co. (VTI).
This move lies in line with the agreement dated back on November 18, 2016, which will allow JFC to include the joint venture in its financial consolidation and in turn facilitate the listing of SuperFoods Group on Vietnam’s equities market by July 2019.
“To help fund the SuperFoods’ expansion plans, Jollibee Foods Corporation will henceforth take the lead in the capital raising activities of the joint venture and will work with various financial institutions in Vietnam and other parts of Asia in this undertaking,” Jollibee said in a statement.
SuperFoods is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jollibee’s JSF Investments Pte Ltd (JSF), and Viet Thai International Joint Stock Co. (VTI) with most of its businesses in Vietnam.
The SuperFoods Group owns and operates the brands Highlands Coffee and Vietnamese noodle house Pho 24, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe franchise shops in Vietnam, Macau, and Hong Kong. At the end of March, these three brands amount for a total of 216 stores with its presence across 17 countries outside the Philippines, including Indonesia, Cambodia, and Australia.
In the next three years, the SuperFoods Group plans to open another 485 stores, mostly in Vietnam, while expanding the brands through franchising in other parts of Asia and in Australia. The company also plans to enter Malaysia as part of its expansion in Southeast Asia.
JFC plans to build a significant business in Vietnam given its potential to become a large consumer market. Like the Philippines, Vietnam has a high population at 95 million and has enjoyed robust economic growth, which reached a 6.2 percent growth last year.
The SuperFoods joint venture is one of its fastest-growing businesses, with its sales reaching US$58 million in 2016, that is up to 46 percent from the prior year, driven by the 73 percent expansion of the Highlands Coffee.
JFC operates the largest foodservice network in the Philippines. At the end of March, it had 2,684 restaurant outlets under the brands Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Burger King, and Mang Inasal. Abroad, it operated 620 restaurants including the brands Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
JFC maintains interest in joint ventures operating 611 stores worldwide. Aside from its interest in SuperFoods, it also has 40 percent ownership of US chain Smashburger and 48 percent of 12 Hotpot.
By Vivian Foo, VCNewsNetwork
Following Southeast Asia’s entrepreneurs and burgeoning startup scene, Venture Capital News Network has noticed the prevailed adoption of content marketing which complements the startup culture.
Venture Capital News Network recently spoke with entrepreneur and online marketing consultant Daniel Tan about the use of content marketing strategies within the startup culture. Startups are currently leading the field in the use of content marketing, and more and more startups are adopting the approach to quickly expand and engage a wider audience. Tan offered valuable insights on why this should be the case, and why the trend will continue to grow.
Tan explains that content is not only thriving, it is diversifying, and the common trend is for content to become more niche specific. Attentions spans get shorter and competition increases, meaning content must get specific to be engaging. Startups generally only have one key product or service aimed at solving a specific problem, meaning they are naturally suited to thrive in the new area.
Tan identifies user-generated content and influencers as another major trend that startups seem purpose built to harness, with consumer feedback and content creation seen as more trustworthy than content from the business itself. This saves resources for startups on generating content, encouraging them instead to ‘curate’ content generated by early adopters.
The most important reason however is that startups start their marketing strategy from scratch, making it easier for content to take the focus than in already well-established businesses.
In the interview, Daniel Tan explained, “Startups are highly nimble entities and are looking for the greatest ROI from a minimal investment. They don’t have a pre-established marketing department with fixed and often outdated ideas about how to communicate. As a result, content is the default strategy, and diversifying it leads to other complementary approaches. That’s why startups are so successful with content marketing and why they’re seriously disrupting the landscape that multinationals have held onto for nearly a decade. My advice would be to ensure startups document that strategy to keep things on track.”
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Online media startup Boombastis has recently secured an undisclosed pre-Series A funding from Unistellar, a venture development and advisory firm which pulls funds from Southeast Asian high-net-worth individuals and institutions.
Based in Jakarta, Unistellar help entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level by providing practice knowledge, strategic direction, talent management, and relevant business network to accelerate the growth of their business partners.
Boombastis is Unistellar’s first media company that was successfully launched in 2014. Since its site went live, the startup has accumulated a total of 16.9 million page views and a proclaimed 4 million users per month.
The online media platform grew the traffic on the basis of creating viral content which targets the Indonesian Alay market, that is in reference to the audiences in the middle to lower tier of the market which has a size of over 30 million.
Besides viral content, the site also delivers informative content as well including lifestyle tips.
The startup has also been operating on a very lean cost. According to Pascal Sembel, the managing partner of Unistellar, “the editorial team consists of only four full-time employees. The rest are freelancing contributors whom we are paying per article.”
“Barrier to entry in this sector is very low. It’s so easy to become a media entrepreneur these days,” said Nendra Rengganis, the CEO of Boombastis. “But only content business is not profitable, you need to come up with different revenue streams.”
Rengganis further explained, “some have started to create their own communities, launching their own product or setting up merchandise stores. That is one of the ways to maintain independence.”
In this aspect, Boombastis will introduce a string of new features, including what it calls a new kind of news, infotainment, and Youth Muslim Media. Moreover, with the fresh capital, the startup expects to reach a break-even point in the next three to six months.
Boombastis currently competes with Kumparan, Brillo, Hipwee, IDNtimes, Malesbanget.com, Baca, and many others in the attempt to dominate the pop-culture driven millennial market segment in Indonesia.
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media