Global venture capital seed fund and accelerator 500 Startups today announced that it has launched a US$50 million second fund to invest in Southeast Asian tech startups, christened the ‘500 Durians II’. The new fund, akin to the first one, is anchored by MAVCAP.
500 startups in an official statement mentions,
Their early and continued conviction was a critical component for us to operate at speed. While we will continue to fundraise the rest of Durians II, we’re grateful for all the interest we’ve had in seeding us.
The venture capital firm aims to invest from US$50,000 to US$150,000 in around 200 more seed stage companies. It will also continue to remain sector-agnostic, investing in a wide variety of industries.
The beginning – Durians I
500 Startups’ first Southeast Asia-focussed fund 500 Durians I, named after a tropical fruit popular in Southeast Asia, first invested in June 2014. 500 Startups, initially underestimating the Southeast Asian startup scene later was surprised when it doubled the original US$10 million 500 Durians I fund to US$25 million to keep up with increasing opportunities in the local ecosystem.
Now, within two years, the VC firm has invested in 119 startups including ride-hailing app Grab and mobile marketplace Carousell. It is said to be the most active early stage investor in the region with participation in over 26 per cent of all seed deals in the region as recorded by CB Insights.
In the statement, 500 Startups managing partner Khailee Ng says,
This follows the classic 500 Startups strategy of making many little bets and doubling down on winners that have taken flight across our family of funds, including 500 Durians I.
Durians and early stage investments
Khailee says Southeast Asia is also ahead of India, China, and even the US in terms of economic growth, and has a social media-savvy population, exploding smartphone penetration, and a rising middle class.
The new Durians fund will retain its focus on early stage investments, and will look at other markets in Southeast Asia — mainly Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, and Singapore. Southeast Asia is expected to have 480 million internet users by 2020, according to a report by Google and Temasek Holdings Pte.
Historically, the firm has primarily invested alongside other seed stage and angel investors that it has grown to trust and respect and will continue to do that. The US$50 million fund will also allow 50 Startups to follow-on with up to US$500,000 of additional capital in the companies that show exceptional progress, it stated.
Apart from Durians, 500 Startups has microfunds focused on certain markets such as Thailand and Vietnam.