Start Singapore: VC firm closes $81m S-E Asia investment deal

Ms Kuik (third from left) and Ms Tan (fifth from left) are finalists in the first start-up competition for women. With them are (from left) Ms Ho Kheng Lian from Vectr, Ms Natalie Loh from Vanitee, Ms Pocket Sun from SoGal, Ms Virginia Tan from Lean
Ms Kuik (third from left) and Ms Tan (fifth from left) are finalists in the first start-up competition for women. With them are (from left) Ms Ho Kheng Lian from Vectr, Ms Natalie Loh from Vanitee, Ms Pocket Sun from SoGal, Ms Virginia Tan from Lean In China, Ms Adeline Quek from GrabTaxi and Mrs Nina Yang from Singbridge.PHOTO: ASCENDAS- SINGBRIDGE

VC firm closes $81m S-E Asia investment deal

Korean Hanwha Life Insurance, Thailand's Digital Ventures and German media conglomerate Hubert Burda Media have partnered with local venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures to tap the growing digital business in South-east Asia.

Digital Ventures is the venture capital arm of Siam Commercial Bank.

Together with existing investors such as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Temasek, they have invested in Golden Gate's US$60 million (S$81 million) fund to back regional start-ups.

Golden Gate said there has been a growing number of investment rounds in emerging markets of late, with US$1.7 billion invested in 473 deals in the region over the last five months.

"High-growth start-ups on track to reach US$1 billion in valuation over the next two years are also on the rise," it noted.

These start-ups include motorcycle taxi service Go-Jek in Indonesia and e-commerce portal Carousell.

Mr Thana Thienachariya, who chairs the executive committee at Digital Ventures, said Siam Bank set up its own venture capital firm because banks have to adapt to industry changes quickly to remain competitive.

Together with Golden Gate, the bank will be able to participate in investment opportunities in Asia, which is becoming the next innovation hotbed, he said.


Mobile-phone photo lens launches on Kickstarter

OOWA, a high-quality lens attachment created for mobile photography, has raised almost US$50,000 (S$68,000) since it launched on Kickstarter last week.

More than 400 backers have pledged over US$46,000 to buy the gizmo, which lets phone users take photos with greater clarity.

It was developed by Singapore start-up DynaOptics based on technology that originated from the National University of Singapore.

OOWA's products include a 2.5x zoom telephoto lens, a 110-degree wide-angle lens and a phone case that allows for the lens to be attached with ease while protecting the phone.


S'poreans win start-up competition for women

Two Singapore entrepreneurs - Ms Adrianna Tan and Ms Kuik Xiao Shi - have won a start-up competition for women.

Ms Tan founded Wobe, which develops mobile business and finance tools, while Ms Kuik co-founded beauty and wellness start-up Vanitee.

Their victory in Ascendas- Singbridge Her Start-up, the first such competition for women, means they will go on to compete in the grand finals in Silicon Valley next month. They were among nine start-ups taking part in the competition. At least one member of each participating team must be a woman, or the start-up's product or services must serve and impact women.

It was jointly organised by start-up accelerator TechBase, female-led VC firm SoGal, Lean In China, a professional development platform for women, and start-up incubator Kr Space.

It aims to provide a means for women to showcase their ideas and innovations on an international platform.

Similar competitions are being held in China, the United States and Vietnam. The 15 finalist teams selected from these four countries take part in the global finals.

Finalists will receive business mentorship and funding from experts, investors, chief executives and like-minded entrepreneurs.

The title sponsor, Ascendas-Singbridge, provides sustainable urban solutions and business space.

Grace Chng

• Send news on start-up development to chngkeg@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Start Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe