Singapore gets more VC money as Wavemaker closes $89m fund

Mr Paul Santos concentrates on corporate software and hardware companies.
Mr Paul Santos concentrates on corporate software and hardware companies.

SINGAPORE • Wavemaker Partners has closed a US$66 million (S$89.2 million) investment fund for Southeast Asia, marking an exceptional stretch for Singapore in which three venture capital (VC) firms completed fundraisings in the city within a single week.

Wavemaker exceeded its initial target of US$50 million by drawing a range of backers including Temasek Holdings, American venture capitalist Tim Draper and the World Bank's International Finance Corp. This is the firm's second fund for South-east Asia.

While many VC firms in the region focus on consumer Internet start-ups, Wavemaker has built expertise in the world of business-to-business (B2B) companies.

Mr Paul Santos, Singapore-based managing partner, concentrates on corporate software and hardware companies. Wavemaker sold a mobile advertising start-up to Xurpas Inc for about US$45 million last year and Alphabet Inc's Google acquired its portfolio company Pie, a Singapore-based chat app.

"We believe Wavemaker's differentiated focus on B2B and deep tech will help create new, disruptive innovations," said IFC's venture capital lead for South-east Asia and Asia Internet investments Pravan Malhotra.

Singapore is gaining more prominence as a hub for technology investments. This week, the city's Vertex Ventures completed its biggest fundraising yet with a US$210 million fund for South-east Asian and Indian technology deals. Then Vickers Venture Partners, the Singaporean firm led by Mr Finian Tan, raised a total of US$230 million for two funds.

Wavemaker's other start-ups include Structo, which makes 3D printers for dental applications, as well as Smartkarma, a marketplace for investment research, and Smove, which provides on-demand car rental services.

Mr Santos said that when he started investing in South-east Asia, he connected with B2B founders and spent 80 per cent of his time with them.

"Usually, they would have insights that not many people would have and friends who will give them money," he said in an interview. "You can build sustainable businesses with less capital."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore gets more VC money as Wavemaker closes $89m fund'. Print Edition | Subscribe