Thailand-based entrepreneurial group Ardent Capital has wrapped up its first round of external funding. No funding amount has been revealed, but the investors are Siemer Ventures (USA), Recruit Strategic Partners (Japan), and GMO Venture Partners (Japan). Plus, as part of this round, Paul Santos from Singapore’s Wavemaker Labs will join the Ardent Capital board; Paul is also a partner at Siemer Ventures. ( Updated: Corrected Ardent's location). The new funding will go towards both Ardent Labs as well as Ardent’s funding in more Southeast Asian startups. Ardent Capital is itself also a VC firm that tends to focus on e-commerce and digital media. Ardent has made five investments to date: Sri Lankan daily deals site Anything.lk; Indonesian travel site Burufly; gamification platfom Playbasis; digital marketing analytics service Syndacast; and tech blog e27. The firm’s internal product generator is Ardent Labs, which is the largest part of the business with its 40 personnel. Today’s anouncement points out:
Ardent Labs will launch its first two companies this quarter: WhatsNew, an e-commerce company that owns and operates several vertically focused e-commerce websites, and aCommerce. aCommerce provides end-to-end e-commerce solutions for startups, brands, retailers, and manufacturers in Southeast Asia.
Adrian Vanzyl, CEO of Ardent Capital, says that the group realizes the challenges in online purchasing for consumers in the region, and is also working to solve those with both its investments and its own companies:
We also know from personal experience that the challenges of operating in multiple markets with different cultures and languages, poor payment options, and unreliable logistics can be overwhelming. We are focused on solving these hard problems so we can remove the friction holding back pent up growth. This additional funding shows a clear validation of our model and allows us to accelerate our plans, team sizes and the number of countries we will operate in. With such strong support out of both Japan and the US, we have the capital to grow and provide our portfolio companies with a path for follow on investment, partnership, global growth and exits, giving them great support beyond Ardent.
The presence of two major Japanese investors is interesting, and could herald even more Japanese startups being guided towards the emergent Southeast Asian markets. Vanzyl adds:
To leverage this investment, we are looking for three things: (1) entrepreneurs with companies or ideas looking for early to late stage seed funding with their core team and target customer base in Southeast Asia; (2) experienced entrepreneurs looking to join one of our companies, particularly CEO and senior executive candidates who can come in as co-founders to operate and grow the businesses created in our Labs group; and (3) established brands and companies looking to leverage our network and infrastructure to expand rapidly in, or enter, the Southeast Asian market.
That sounds like an offer and a plan.
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