Singapore based Monk’s Hill Ventures announced their launch with news of a $80 million fund to focus on investing in early stage startups in Southeast Asia. The venture capital firm is brand new, but composed of highly experienced partners Peng T. Ong, Kuo-Yi Lim and Stefan Jung, along with Thomas Clayton as a special advisor. Peng T. Ong is best known for founding Match.com, and he was also the founder and CEO of Interwoven. Kuo-Yi Lim was the CEO of Infocomm Investments, a $200 million Singapore based startup fund. Stefan Jung is known for founding the e-commerce companies Zalora and Lazada. Thomas Clayton also brings experience starting up a number of tech companies in Silicon Valley.
Monk’s Hill was recently announced as one of six VC firms to receive matching funds from Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF). Under the program, each of the six firms is eligible to receive S$10 million in matching funds from the NRF to be used for funding early stage local tech companies.
In their press release, partner Peng T. Ong explained how Monk’s Hill Venture’s entrepreneurial experience will help fill a gap in the current startup ecosystem.
There are clearly two big gaps in the market. One is the much talked-about Series A funding gap. However, the more significant one that we see is the lack of seasoned entrepreneurs, with deep operating experience, as investors—people who can roll up their sleeves and really help entrepreneurs. This is what separates the best VCs from the rest.
The Monk’s Hill partners intend to use their significant experience to help entrepreneurs build companies that can scale globally. With their extensive networks in Asia and North America, they also plan to assist new startups to get additional funding, attract customers, and acquire the best talent. Partner Kuo-Yi Lim elaborated on this idea further:
We also want to set the bar for how venture is done in Asia, by bringing the best practices we have personally experienced through working with top VCs ourselves—a straightforward and transparent process which treats entrepreneurs as partners.
Monk’s Hill Ventures will place their focus in two primary areas. The first is on early stage, Series A, and Series B technology based startups with a geographical focus on Southeast Asia. Their second area of focus will be growth rounds of funding for mainly Silicon Valley based companies that are looking to expand their operations into Asia. They are starting off with two offices—one in Singapore, and another in Jakarta, Indonesia. With a population of 240 million, Indonesia is a market that has incredible potential for growth in the coming years. Special advisor Tom Clayton commented on the excitement and potential of the region with these words:
In just the past three years, there has been a rapid emergence of new entrepreneurs and great startups across Southeast Asia with vibrant ecosystems forming, from Singapore and Jakarta to Bangkok and Manila.