Kickstart Ventures, a Makati City-based venture capital firm that is one of the Philippines’ most active with investments in Coins.ph, Zalora, C88, Wattpad and Singapore-based video publishing platform iVideoSmart, announced recently that it is on the hunt for promising tech startups in the region as it seeks to leverage its US$200 million funds.
The fund is intended to develop and grow the next generation of technology unicorns within Southeast Asia, as well as to nurture the growth of innovative startups and companies to become the region’s leading industry movers and shakers.
The venture capital company, which is a subsidiary of Globe Telecom, was established in 2014 with just an initial US$2.4 million seed fund but has since grown to assist more than 40 startups and companies worldwide to achieve success, with 30 of those companies and startups being Filippino ones.
At present, Kickstart Ventures is looking to invest in startups that are in the emerging technology and technology-reliant sectors, such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, sustainability practices, fintech and payments, enterprise solutions, logistics, e-commerce, cloud computing, data analytics and augmented reality.
In 2019, Kickstart Ventures was given a mandate by Ayala Corp, a major shareholder of Globe, to manage a US$150 million fund that the holding company had designated for venture capital purposes, with an emphasis on companies and startups that can drive scalable, sustainable and innovative solutions in the technology space, including areas such as emerging technology, financial technology, transportation, machine learning, customer service, IoT, cloud computing and more. The fund, known as the Ayala Corp.
Technology Innovation Venture or ACTIVE Fund is geared towards backing startups in their Series A, B and C phases of funding from around the world, revolving around the concepts of smart living, frictionless future, a world of plenty and automation to augmentation. It is understood that each company would receive between US$2 million US$10 million in investment. The venture capital firm will target to make its first initial investment in a startup or company by the middle of 2020.
According to Joan Yao, vice president for investments at Kickstart Ventures, the venture capital company is very interested in seeing more local Filippino startups and companies take the initiative in developing innovative solutions that go beyond just the Philippines to address the needs of Southeast Asia’s immense population of more than 655 million people. Additionally, Yao added that the ACTIVE Fund is also looking at investing in solutions themed around sustainability practices such as waste management, energy management and water management, such as water purification and energy storage solutions.
On the potential of local Filippino startups to achieve unicorn status, Yao is of the opinion that much depends on how swiftly the Philippines are at mass adopting digital technologies. There is still a need for the country to build a sustainable and viable digital economy that is focused on the inclusion of its people so that more of them will become involved and participate in digital and online transactions to boost the ecosystem. In addition, local startups will need to broaden their horizons and look beyond the Philippines and expand to new regional markets if they wish to become unicorns.