TWO local investors with plenty of their own experience as entrepreneurs have teamed up to form a venture capital (VC) firm called Monk's Hill Ventures to invest in tech start-ups.
Mr Ong Peng Tsin and Mr Lim Kuo-Yi say they will complete raising about US$80 million (S$100 million) by the end of this year from institutional investors, corporations and private investors.
Mr Lim said they intend to invest in 16 to 20 start-ups in the next five years. The first investment is expected next month.
An investment of US$1 million to US$5 million each will be made in tech start-ups that have validated their business ideas and are ready to commercialise their products or services.
Mr Lim said: "Most of the start-ups we will invest in will be locally based but we will look at others in Thailand, the Philippines and other South-east Asian countries."
Both men will take an active role in their portfolio companies, either joining their boards or becoming their advisers.
Mr Lim said: "We've been entrepreneurs and investors. We've connections to other investors and organisations in Silicon Valley in the United States which will be useful to our start-ups that want to expand there. Our experience will be useful to guide the start-ups."
Both men had been start-up founders, early employees of start-ups and angel investors.
Mr Lim, 45, was chief executive of Infocomm Investments, the venture capital arm of the Infocomm Development Authority, before he left last year.
Mr Ong, 50, founded three software firms. After he sold his last enterprise software firm Encentuate to IBM, he became a venture capitalist with GSR Ventures based in Beijing.
Mr Ong said: "The reason we want to do only about four deals a year is because we want to spend time with the founding teams to help them grow in areas like business strategies, marketing and hiring talent."
Start-ups that Monk's Hill Ventures hopes to invest in will include Internet-based businesses for consumers and enterprises as well as mobile applications.
Mr Lim said it is "opportune" to set up the VC firm given South-east Asia's rising economic growth, which provides a ready group of middle-class consumers who are tech-savvy and able to spend on online services.
There is also a steady pipeline of start-ups here and in countries such as Indonesia which are ready to scale up their operations and need funds to do so.
"In the last couple of years, there have been several large companies like Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten which acquired the start-ups here. This points to the confidence these organisations have in the start-ups here and in the region," said Mr Lim.
Monk's Hill Ventures is one of six VC firms here selected in April for the Government's Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF) scheme. The Government will invest $10 million on a matching basis with each VC firm.
GATEWAY TO SILICON VALLEY
We've been entrepreneurs and investors. We've connections to other investors and organisations in Silicon Valley in the United States...Our experience will be useful to guide the start-ups.
Mr Lim Kuo-Yi, co-founder of Monk's Hill Ventures, was chief executive of Infocomm Investments, the venture capital arm of the Infocomm Development Authority