Japan-based venture capital firm, Global Brain, manages US$66 million fund focused on finding technical talent in Southeast Asia. Will look to select a startup from Echelon 2012 to join them at their annual Global Brain Alliance Forum.

Global Brain is a venture capital firm based in Tokyo with a branch in Silicon Valley. Since mid-2011, Global Brain has shown strong interest in the Southeast Asian tech startup ecosystem and is looking to enter the scene. The Japanese firm is a premier sponsor at Echelon 2012 and is looking to find one, or perhaps two, startups from the Startup Marketplace to invite to their annual Global Brain Alliance Forum (GBAF).

GBAF is held every December in Tokyo and sees the presence of around 100 representatives of major Japanese corporations, such as NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, gather to listen to venture pitches and meet the startups there for potential matchmaking. Global Brain will also arrange face-to-face meetings for the selected startup(s) from Echelon 2012 and the appropriate Japanese corporation. The selected startup(s) will have their flight and accommodation expenses covered by Global Brain for a maximum of two members from each startup.

To find out more about about Global Brain and their plans for Southeast Asia, e27 interviewed CEO, Yasuhiko Yurimoto.

Provide us a brief background on Global Brain and examples of some of your portfolio companies

Global Brain is a venture capital with headquarters in Tokyo and a branch in Silicon Valley. We are currently planning to set up office in Singapore too so we can concentrate on investment in Southeast Asia. We focus on early to middle stage investment in the domains of smart devices, family technology (i.e. healthcare, children’s education), entertainment & games, cloud services & SMB productivity and tools such as management or control tools.

Right now we manage numerous funds with a total worth of over 11 billion yen. Our portfolio includes Japaense companies such as Realglobe, a cloud hosting platform developer and Geniee, an advertising tech venture. We also invest in foreign ventures such as Retailigence, begin collaborating with major Japanese company KDDI, and provided support for the winner of Ad Tech, Stipple, a joint investment with KPCB.

Tell us more about Global Brain’s interest in Southeast Asia. What startups are you on the look out for?

In February of this year, Global Brain began managing a fund from KDDI, a top tier mobile carrier, worth US$66 million. This fund is highly focused on finding technical talent in Southeast Asia and we believe there is a lot of talent to be discovered here. This is in part due to the spread of smart devices and social network service usage. The market is growing rapidly and amidst that, unique, innovative ideas are bound to be born by well-talented, capable entrepreneurs with high motivation to go global.  We feel confident with investing our money in such a climate so will become even more aggressive in the region and provide as much support as we can.

For companies invested by Global Brain, what are the assistance and opportunities that they can tap on to go global?

GB believes that reaching global markets as quickly as possible is most important. That is why we are currently forming networks in the US with major venture capitals, accelerators and global companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce. We are already utilizing this network to introduce start-ups into the global market.

It is necessary to establish a presence to be ready for the right timing to enter the global market.  GB supported Japanese venture company, Realglobe, who offers a cloud-service, to establish such a presence by helping them be selected as one of the innovative start-ups to pitch at Plug-and-Play Expo, and introducing them to major global players. Such collaboration is sure to promote the further success of the venture company.

How does Echelon help bring you closer to finding the right investments?

In recent years, the Echelon brand has been growing stronger, with Satellites now in Japan, Taiwan and so forth. We see Echelon as an ideal means of discovering and reaching outstanding ventures.