After stepping down from his CEO position at Japanese e-commerce conglomerate Beenos, Teruhide Sato, who Founded the public company, is now pursuing his calling as a venture capitalist with new investment company Beenext Pte.
Based in Singapore, Beenext manages a US$60 million fund that will focus on technology startups in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and India. About 50 per cent of the fund will go to India, 33 per cent to Southeast Asia. The remaining will be split across Japan and the US, said Sato, Founder and Managing Partner, over a phone call.
In the next 10 to 15 years, there will be even more massive opportunities to come out of India and Southeast Asia, he added.
“It has been good for the past five to six years, (but there) will be a bigger change for Internet businesses,” Sato continued.
What Sato intends to achieve
His goal is simple: as a founder who has never worked in a company, he wants to support technology entrepreneurs in emerging markets who might need guidance and financing in order to establish the next big thing.
“This is my fund,” noted Sato, who is the largest limited partner in Beenext. “I understand how founders think, how founders find problems, with whom they want to talk to.”
With more than 17 years of experience in e-commerce, from being a founder member at CyberCash K.K. in 1997 to leaving Beenos in 2014, Sato might be quite inclined to investing in what he knows best: transactional businesses in the e-commerce space. But he is open to putting cash in companies that show potential.
Since Beenext was established in July 2015, Sato and his team have already invested in 12 companies: from droom, an Indian marketplace for automobiles, to HackerEarth, a jobs platform for developers. It runs with a cheque size from anywhere between a few hundred thousand dollars to US$9 million.
A welcome change
Meanwhile, Sato is enjoying his new career path as a full-time investor.
“Being an entrepreneur, you have to focus on one company,” he said, but being an investor or venture capitalist allows him to look at a number of things at any one point.
Instead of zooming into one particular issue or challenge, Sato now has access to a bird’s eye view of different trends in different markets. He can connect founders doing similar things in different locations, and help these entrepreneurs with blind spots and problems they might be missing.
Founders will also be looking to him for management and scaling advice, given his experience building Beenos and sitting on the board of many Internet companies in the region.