The investment landscape in Southeast Asia has been changing and growing as IPOs are starting to heat up and the region is now building global companies on the regular. One of the more prominent venture capital entities in the region is Monk’s Hill Ventures.
They have a strong track record of investing in Southeast Asian winners like Ninja Van and Glints, with over 30 companies in their portfolio. They just launched a programme called the MHV Scouts Program, which comprises over 20 Venture Scouts who will nurture and invest in high-growth pre-seed and seed startups across Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia.
Some of the scouts include big regional entrepreneurs like Achmad Zaky, Co-founder of Bukalapak, Araya Noon Hutasuwan, Co-founder of Snapcart, Royston Tay, Co-founder of Zopim, and Cleosent Randing, Founder of PasarPolis.
M Venture Partners discuss the evolving Southeast Asian investment lanscape
The programmes empowers the Scouts, who are directly responsible for sourcing, vetting, and investing in startups with an eye on identifying strong growth ventures to invest across all verticals and markets. Since their soft launch six months ago, they have made ten investments in verticals including consumer, B2B, fintech, and sustainability.
This includes Crystal Widjaja, Chief Product Officer of Kumu, who recently invested in ADPList, a global mentoring platform, and John Tan, Founder of Doyobi, who invested in Rocket Academy, an online coding boot camp.
To find out more, we spoke to co-founder and Managing Partner Peng T. Ong about his new programme. No stranger to the investment scene, Peng’s background as a successful founder and investor has shown in his strong moves as the head of Monk’s Hill Ventures. Find out what else he had to share.
What is the gap in the market that the Scouts Program is filling?
One of the key differentiators is the strength of the Venture Scouts in the program who are filling the gap of providing experienced expertise to young startups. Our Venture Scouts have strong backgrounds and track records as founders, operators and/or entrepreneurs which we believe will add the most value to seed-stage startups and the tech ecosystems from day one. This is also in line with our vision of entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs.
How large do you see the program growing in terms of the number of scouts as well as the portfolio?
This is our inaugural program and we have over 20 Scouts in this program. We expect that our Venture Scouts will have over 75 startups that they invest in.
Are you seeing any interesting trends developing in the early-stage investment market in the region?
As the tech ecosystem matures, founders who have exited or have built mature late-stage startups are giving back to the ecosystem and bringing more expertise and experience to new founders and startups than ever before. We’re also seeing more founders invest in fellow founders, which is a good sign of a maturing startup ecosystem. Angel investors are also growing and becoming more diverse and representative of the region.
Which industries in the region should we be looking at in terms of growth? Are there any dark horses?
We’re also seeing a new wave of founders emerge from more mature late-stage tech companies like GoTo, Grab and SEA Group. As a result, they’re bringing fresh energy to tackle unsolved problems that they’ve discovered, while also innovating and building on top of the infrastructure that has already been built over the past decade.
Covid has become an accelerant to spur innovations. At the heart of it, the ideas or innovations that will play out are the ones that address how we will live and work in this new reality. These ideas will solve the biggest pain points in a post-pandemic era. Companies that are thriving under this environment include those in healthcare tech, collaboration tech, online grocery shopping, e-commerce.
What’s next for the programme?
Our Venture Scouts are looking for exceptional seed-stage startups and founders across verticals and markets to invest in. We will also look to grow the program to more Venture Scouts in the future which means supporting founders investing in more founders and supporting the overall growth of the tech ecosystem in Southeast Asia.