OurCrowd opens first Asian office in S'pore

OurCrowd's new office in Henderson Road is headed by Mr Ban (left). Meanwhile, Mr Medved (right) says Asia is one of the fastest-growing markets for OurCrowd.
OurCrowd's new office in Henderson Road is headed by Mr Ban (left). Meanwhile, Mr Medved (right) says Asia is one of the fastest-growing markets for OurCrowd.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd has opened an office in Singapore - its first in Asia - to tap on the fast-growing market in the region. The move comes after the start-up received its Capital Market Services licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in August. In March, United Overseas Bank announced its US$10 million (S$14.3 million) investment in the start-up for an undisclosed stake.

The new office in Henderson Road, which opened yesterday, is headed by Mr Denes Ban, an entrepreneur and angel investor who has invested in over 30 firms and founded a number of start-ups, including travel app PocketGuide.

OurCrowd founder and chief executive Jon Medved said: "Asia more broadly, and Singapore in particular, is becoming a globally recognised financial hub for the next generation of innovative technology companies.

"We expect to tap into exciting new deal flow (from Singapore), as well as bring more and more Asian investors to join us in funding global technology companies."

Asia is one of the fastest-growing markets for OurCrowd, Mr Medved told The Straits Times yesterday, adding that Singapore serves as an "obvious entry point" into the region for both companies and investors alike.

ASIA IS WHERE THE MONEY IS

Asia more broadly, and Singapore in particular, is becoming a globally recognised financial hub for the next generation of innovative technology companies.

MR JON MEDVED, OurCrowd founder and chief executive.

He said the firm's regional business has grown five fold since 2014 - both in terms of the number of investors and investment dollars committed on the platform. More than half the total funds invested on the platform now come from Asia, led by markets such as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

OurCrowd has helped 16,000 accredited investors in its global network invest more than US$320 million into its portfolio of 100 companies and five funds. These firms span sectors such as machine learning, cybersecurity, digital health, big data and robotics.

"The appetite for what we're doing is very, very significant in Asia at multiple levels," Mr Medved said. "For many start-ups in Israel, the United States and elsewhere, their initial market orientation has traditionally been the West. And they've been missing it, because they don't realise that whether it's air quality, shipping, fraud or agriculture technology, the markets here are just as vibrant, or even more so. There's a greater receptivity to technology in Asia than ever before."

He added: "Now, big companies and investors in Asia want innovative solutions because they realise the growth ahead is about innovation. The start-up scene here also seems to be catching a little fire.

"So the opportunity to bring what we're doing to both Asian investors and entrepreneurs, and help our companies access the market - that has tremendous upside potential for all parties involved."

While the platform is still largely comprised of Israel-based technology companies, Mr Medved noted that a third of its portfolio now comes from outside of Israel, and that this proportion will grow. OurCrowd is set to introduce its first Asean portfolio company "very soon", possibly by the end of the first quarter next year.

He added the firm plans to open an office in Greater China by early 2018. It also hopes to be able to offer retail investors the opportunity to participate in such crowdfunding investments in the longer term.

"At some point, everybody has to invest in private companies. If you really want to get in on the growth, you've got to get into Uber not when it's US$68 billion, but when it's US$6 million or US$60 million," said Mr Medved.

"But let's face it, the vast majority of accredited investors buy public stocks, funds, property - they have not made these kind of technology investments. So let's work on the accredited investors first."

He added: "It's still early days for us. The opportunity here is pretty much endless for now."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'OurCrowd opens first Asian office in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe