Forge Ventures, a Singapore-based seed-stage VC company, has announced the closure of its US $21.88 million first fund, which is aimed at Southeast Asia.
The fund aims to support seed-stage entrepreneurs who are building the next generation of category-defining businesses.
Over the next three years, Forge Ventures plans to invest in 15 startups, mostly in Singapore and Indonesia.
It has already invested in three companies. They are:
- Vouch, a digital concierge SaaS platform for the hospitality industry in Singapore.
- Dropezy, an e-grocery delivery in Indonesia.
- Marathon, a Vietnamese K-12 after-school tutoring business.
In addition, Forge Ventures has developed a Limited Partner network to help founders. Airbnb, Carousell, Fabelio, Facebook, Funding Societies, GajiGesa, Grab, Kopi Kenangan, Qoala, and Stripe are some of the company’s major investors.
Tiang Lim Foo and Kaspar Hidayat founded Forge Ventures in 2021 in collaboration with Alto Partners, a multi-family office focused on Asia.
Hidayat was an investor at 500 Startups, while Foo was a venture partner at Next Billion Ventures (now 500 Global).
According to Foo, Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem is at a crossroads, with an increasing number of companies aiming for exits or unicorn status. A surge of inaccessible cash encourages entrepreneurs to ask their initial backers for more.
“We are operators, so we know what it takes to go from zero to one. This is why we can build conviction early and be the first institutional capital to back a startup. The founders that we partner with count on us to get our hands dirty in every aspect of company building from ideation to go-to-market (GTM),” Foo added.
“While we do provide capital to startups, we see ourselves first and foremost as partners and advisers to the founders we work with. Unlike other investors, we allocate the majority of our time to working with founders so that we can make a difference,” co-founder and partner Hidayat said.
Global VC funds have spent a record-breaking US$268.7 billion so far in 2021, surpassing their entire investments of US$251.2 billion a year earlier, according to Refinitiv statistics, boosted by the pandemic-induced digital revolution throughout the globe. According to DealStreetAsia, VC investment in Southeast Asia reached a new high of US$6 billion in Q1 2021.
VC fundraising, on the other hand, has slowed in the first half of 2021, with total proceeds down 21% from the same period last year.