Asia's top venture capitalists predict what's in store for 2013
As the year 2013 kicks off, startups, companies and venture capital firms set new expectations and goals. What exactly does 2013 promise? We spoke to some of the more prominent venture capitalist around the region to find out their outlook for the new year.
Amit Anand (Singapore): What 2013 means for the various Southeast Asia ecosystems
Amit Anand is the Founder and Managing Partner of Jungle Ventures, a Singapore based pan Asian early stage fund for Jungle Venture. The fund also recently launched a new US$10M super angel fund, collaborating with the prestigious 500Startups. Some of Jungle Ventures’ portfolio include Cinemacraft, DocDoc and travelmob.
Amit is also the Vice Chairman for Business Angel Network South East Asia (BANSEA).
Here’s what Amit has to say about 2013:
“Ecosystems such as Singapore and Indonesia are most likely to orbit into next stage of maturity or die trying. The next few years are VERY critical to the region as some of the seed stage experiments will come of age and teams will have to demonstrate long term viability of their businesses. On the other hand, newer ecosystems such as Thailand will get on the seed stage radar so it maybe a good time for entrepreneurs that are looking for seed funding to consider Thailand as their base. It is also a decent home market. Watch out for Australia though! If given the right access to Southeast Asia markets, there are highly potent startup teams bubbling down under!
VC’s, especially local ones, that open themselves to taking early risks may find great pickings in the bridge to Series A segment. Not all startups will reach the desired milestones for Series A convincingly and it would take an expert eye to pick early winners irrespective. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of funds that have the wherewithal and mindset to do that. We are very upbeat about that stage of investments.
Though not publicly disclosed there are many startups in Singapore (and the region) that are hovering around the $100m mark. It will be interesting to see if they consider exiting or have the vision and execution prowress to THINK BIGGER and be the first Billion dollar digital enterprise from here! Eitherways, stories such as Bubblemotion, mig33, PropertyGuru, Viki, Reebonz will end up teaching us a lot and one should closely watch them for the next few years.”
Adrian Vanzyl (Thailand): We are very bullish on verticals with a direct path to monetization
Adrian Vanzyl is the cofounder and CEO of Thailand based Ardent Capital. Ardent Capital has founded, grown and successfully exited a range of companies, primarily in the internet sector in SE Asia, but also in the US and Australia. Some of these successful exits include Ensogo, Dealkeren, Admax Network, and NewMediaPlus.
Adrian spent ten years with Blumberg Capital in San Francisco (most recently as CTO for this $100M early stage digital media focused fund, where he was also CEO of two portfolio companies).
Here’s what Adrian has to say about 2013:
“We are very bullish on verticals with a direct path to monetization. These include travel, beauty, parenting/kids et cetera. We particularly like those that can reduce customer acquisition cost, and drive engagement, by having a social community layer of some sort (comments, likes, photos). We are not seeing as much traction as you’d expect for general, non differentiated commerce sites (eg Amazon.com clones). This is due to a lack of clear messaging, non-competitive pricing, customer service issues, and international competition.
The other big area is enabling platforms, such as creative payment solutions and gamification. These unlock purchase behavior, and drive greater engagement. We’ve made a couple of bets across the above areas, including Burufly.com (social travel) and gamification (Playbasis). From a trend’s perspective, we still see way too many point solutions, that will never grow into real substantial businesses. This trend is actually being driven by all the incubators, angel money, and government money becoming available. Overall none of us will ever complain that there is too much money available to help startups, but what money is available should go to real businesses, not a 20th copy of a copy of a 3 year old US business model.
These businesses won’t get Series A funding, which is disheartening for the entrepreneur, and makes the startup space look like a poor career choice. As a group we need to help smart entrepreneurs think big, and build real businesses, and avoid the trap and attraction of quick but small point solution businesses. Overall the growth in the startup scene the last 12 months has been absolutely tremendous, with some really high quality incubators and training programs coming into the region. For example, we’ve seen more tech focused co-working spaces in Thailand in 2012 than all the years prior. And this trend should continue throughout the region. Fun year ahead.”
Jamie Lin (Taiwan): Web Gaming will start to overtake traditional Online Gaming, Facebook will continue it’s dominance, and ecommerce will continue to be bullish.
Jamie is the Founding Partner of appWorks Ventures, a US$ 11M Super Angel Fund located in Taipei, Taiwan with a focus on the mobile and consumer internet space. appWorks runs an incubator program, inspired by Y-Combinator, that has helped more than 120 startups.
During his life as an entrepreneur, Jamie co-founded Social Sauce, which is behind travel social network Sosauce.com and web 3D game production house Muse Games. Prior to that, he co-founded Intumit, the leader in Chinese search engine technologies, and Hotcool.com, a build-to-order online PC retailer, among other things.
Here’s what Jamie has to say about 2013:
“In terms of gaming, I think we’re going to see Web Gaming starting to overtake traditional Online Gaming (which requires downloads) in some countries this year. Though still small compared to Web Gaming and Online Gaming, Mobile (/App) Gaming is also gonna become a major battle field this year.
In terms of advertising, Facebook is going to become even bigger this year and might even challenge Google’s dominance in some countries. Real-Time Bidding will slowly start to get going also in some countries.
In terms of e commerce, I think it will generally grow 20-50% in most countries but that is an area where different countries really have very different standings.”
Jeffrey Paine (Singapore): Mobile will be big
Jeffrey is the founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures, which recently teamed up with Singapore based JFDI to fund and support digital startups. Jeffrey is also the director for Founders Institute Singapore.
Here’s what Jeffrey has to say about 2013:
“Mobile will be big – in education, personal health, and commerce.
Personalization may come sooner than we think as well.”
Hugh Mason and Wong Meng Weng (Singapore): Health and Education is ready to be disrupted.
Hugh and Meng is no stranger to the startup community in Singapore. They run JFDI.Asia, one of Singapore’s latest and very successful accelerator programme.
JFDI.Asia ran their first bootcamp earlier this year together with SingTel Innov8 which graduated 11 startups, with more than 60 percent of the startups succeed in securing S$500,000 to S$700,000 funding at the end of the program.
Here’s what Hugh has to say about 2013:
“Maybe I can give a couple of different spins on that. First up, here’s a rough top 10 domains in descending order of popularity from the teams that applied to us this year: Marketing, Content, E-commerce, Education, Analytics, CRM, Games, Health, Finance, Business Intelligence.
As for which of those will succeed … our experience is that Asia’s different to, say, the USA because rolling out across this region is harder than say the US, there’s a common currency, legal structures etc. Here in Asia the only organizations that really span the many cultures and countries in our neighbourhood are the multinationals. So JFDI.Asia is building close links with a number of multinational partners that can offer market intelligence and channels to market for our start-ups, to help them scale. Success, in terms of building a really big business here in Asia might turn out not to be about focusing on a particular market vertical but rather on the partnerships that can help to scale across this vast region.
These are the personal picks from Meng Wong: Travel, health, education, monetization of mobile social media.”
Eddie Chau (Singapore): Multi layered big data analytics and cloud will be serious contenders
“Multi-layered big data analytics (data sources can be from social, demographic, mobile etc) will be seriously considered by more organisations, including government, financial, as well as FMCGs. This is for them to gain intelligence/competitive edge and most importantly to get closer to their clients and to understand their behaviours
More will move to Cloud and the management of the cloud will be a big issue and presents a lot of opportunities.”
Stuart B Richardson (Australia): AdTech, eCommerce, Social Media Marketing Tools, ‘Internet of Things’.
Stuart is the founder of Australia’s early-stage technology venture capital investment firm, Adventure Capital. He is also the cofounder of York Butter Factory, one of the premier coworking/incubator spaces in Australia with over 50 high-potential seed-stage companies in residence within a year of commencing operations.
On top of that, he is also the founding investor of breakout technology businesses Axiflux and 121cast. Stuart also advises numerous entrepreneurs and their early-stage technology businesses.
Here’s what Stuart has to say about 2013:
“In terms of hot-spots for activity, I think the following are worthy of attention:
AdTech – battle for dominance in the DSP / RTB market – and especially mobile ads in Asia
eCommerce (less so in Australia due to structural and potential regulatory issues)
Social Media marketing tools
Hard technology & the emergence of the ‘internet of things’ (ie. Axiflux & Ninja Blocks)
I think we’re also going to see a lot of consolidation and commoditisation in the Startup sector as the knowledge proliferates and cost of launching a startup continues to plummet. All the whilst the scale costs are rapidly increasing as channels to market become more crowded. This will be Asia’s own Series A Crunch.”