Exclusive: SE Asia VC readies first close

Golden Gate Ventures has raised $35m, receiving backing from Singapore’s NRF.

Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures is one of six venture capital funds to have secured funding from Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), a commitment that has taken the fund to its first close.

It will finalise the close to $35 million closing in early May and make its first investment shortly after, a source close to the matter told Private Equity International. The fund, Golden Gate’s second venture capital vehicle, is targeting $50 million.

The S$10 million ($8 million; €5.75) committed by the NRF is part of a S$60 million commitment it has made across six Singapore-based venture capital managers, matching S$10 million raised by each of the GPs from other investors.

Other recipients of the funding were Jungle Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Walden International, SBI Ven Capital and New Asia Investments. Both Walden and New Asia have received backing from the NRF previously.

“We recognise that it is very competitive for high-tech start-ups to secure follow-on financing as they have to fight with the best in the region to get VCs’ attention. Through this investment, the government is addressing the gap in Series A funding, which is critical in sustaining the rapid growth of start-ups beyond the seed stage,” Low Teck Seng, chief executive of NRF, said in an earlier statement.

The capital must be used to invest in Singapore-incorporated companies, despite some of the firms having a wider geographical mandate.

While Golden Gate invests across Southeast Asia, with key markets being Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, the firm will now have a $20 million carve-out in the fund solely for Singapore, Vinnie Lauria, managing partner at the firm said, while declining to comment on specifics regarding the fundraising process.

“The government has been very supportive here in Singapore, we’ve partnered with them in different programmes where they’ve been investing seed capital [of] up to $500,000, so they’ve now invested in well-over 100 companies and they see [this move] as a step up [from that],” Lauria explained.

He adds that around two-thirds of the fund will likely be invested in Singapore.

Golden Gate Ventures is a Southeast Asia-focused private equity firm that focuses on mobile and e-commerce start-ups. Its debut fund has made 18 investments across Southeast Asia, three of those being in US companies with a Southeast Asia angle.

Jeffrey Paine, founding partner at Golden Gate Ventures, explained, “We’ve been quite fortunate with our companies to date. We’ve had no startups drop off the radar, to the contrary we’ve been able to bet on terrific entrepreneurs building high growth companies, such as mobile marketplace Carousell, baby related ecommerce Bilna, inventory management SaaS company TradeGecko, and online social credit scoring company Lenddo.”