Bangkok-based AsiaStartups connects angel investors with startups, will provide mentoring and legal advice

Yon Heong Tung

The newly-launched Thailand angel investor platform wants to increase cross-border opportunities for the tech ecosystem

The AsiaStartups team: (from left to right) Bhantitra Mahapaurya, Adrien Deniau, Korn Chatikavanij, Keenan Kwok, Charlie Withayachamnankul

There has been an exponential growth in VC activity in Thailand’s tech ecosystem over the past few years — partly fuelled by the participation of corporate VCs such as telecoms and banks.

According to a report by Techsauce, the number of VC funded deals increased from less than three to 75 between 2012 to 2016. In terms of deal size, that meant a jump to US$86 million in 2016 compared to US$3 million in 2012.

But with regards to the angel investments, the country has plenty of room for growth. There are a few angel investor platforms including Shift Ventures‘s 1000x Club, which currently has about 30 members committing US$1 million to investment, and Bangkok Venture Club; but the market is still fairly nascent.

Last week, Bangkok saw the launch of a new angel investment network, AsiaStartups. e27 spoke to Charlie Withayachamnankul, co-founder of AsiaStartups, to find out more.

Here are the edited excerpts:

Can you explain to me the value proposition of AsiaStartups for startups? What kind of complementary services does it provide alongside matching angel investors with startups?

Through its filtering and curation process, AsiaStartups connects and matches founders with investors both locally, and cross-border. Our network spans North Asia through to Southeast Asia, and at AsiaStartups we are committed to igniting opportunities for companies and investors alike across the region.

The opportunity lies in connecting Asian markets, not purely on local markets.
AsiaStartups aims to de-risk companies for investors, through value added services such as mentorship, legal advisory, and fundraising advisory amongst others that we offer to startups (deal structure and investor sourcing).

Can you tell me more about the angel investors scene? There’s a lot of talk about CVC in Thailand, but angel investors hardly get the spotlight

Tech investment is relatively new in Thailand. The business mindset is still quite traditional and experienced angels within the tech scene are few (usually they get together to create their own funds).

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There are a number of potential future active angels who express a high level of interest but are still unsure about how to navigate this landscape. CVCs in Thailand are starting to get more active, mainly through accelerator and incubator programs which are why they have more visibility.

Angel investors in Thailand at this point generally are involved within the friends and family fundraising rounds which keeps investments much more privatised.

Do you foresee a growth in family offices participating in tech funding in Thailand?

Yes. The excitement is now revolved around the tech era. The younger descendants within family offices are definitely gaining interest in this area yet, there is a lack of knowledge in the tech investment space – on the local market, this is where AsiaStartups aims to play a role.

What are the criteria for an angel investor to come on board AsiaStartups?

There are no fixed criteria for our angel investors to come on board. Many of them are through referrals from our initial community of angels which currently consists of a variety of backgrounds: seasoned tech investors, corporate, successful traditional entrepreneurs, and family office representatives amongst others.

What kind of startups fits AsiaStartups’ target market?

We accept all startups and even occasionally SMEs with a tech/digital angle.
But we focus at this point mainly on early stage and pre-seed. (It’s the stage where the majority of angel investors would be and want to get most involved)

What is AsiaStartups revenue model? And what’s to stop the investors from taking the negotiation process off the platform?

We take a cut from the deal on the startups’ side i.e the startup pays commission as we help them connect with investors they would not otherwise have access to.

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Our business model is also structured around other revenue streams, subscriptions from investors to gain access to deal flows, and also to startups to gain access to accelerators, CVCs and VCs.

We prevent investors/startups from bypassing our platform by imposing contractual agreements before the process is engaged between the two.

Image Credit: AsiaStartups

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