Hi Alice, so what do you do and how did you come to Singapore?
I am an investor at Jungle Ventures, always on the lookout for great founders and our next investments. I started in the venture capital industry right after graduation and worked alongside founders at a VC firm in France for 3 years. End of 2014 my husband and I decided to leave our home-country, friends, family and professional networks to write the new chapter of our life in Asia. A big leap of faith that resonates when I hear founders’ story and venturing out of your comfort zone. We landed in Singapore with a couple of suitcases, an Airbnb booking and zero contact. Flash forward to today we are proud to call Singapore home and have welcomed our first child. I joined Jungle Ventures as employee #4 and today we are a solid team of 18 people representing 10 nationalities. I am fortunate to work alongside some of the best talents in the industry and a team that is made up of 50% women, all strong and smart.
How do you see investment in Singapore and the region and how is it evolving ?
Back in 2014 – Jungle had raised a first $10m fund and considered one of the largest in Southeast Asia… In 2016 we raised our second fund, 10x larger. We have invested in more than 40 companies across Southeast Asia and India. In 2019 we closed Fund 3, U$240m including $40m in separately managed account commitments.
The regional venture ecosystem has matured a lot since 2014. I was taken aback by the lack of structure, the average round size and shortcoming of Series A/B. 5 years later… – there’s a lot more depth in the ecosystem – SEA is home to 10 unicorns, – startups collectively raised ~$11bn (~3-4bn excluding the mega-rounds) in 2018, – a lot of founders have been through one or two cycles now and starting their second or third venture. There is also a new wave of money coming from Chinese, US and Europeans funds, all setting up offices here and wanting to take part of this ecosystem.
What is your investment philosophy and what do you look for in a startup?
We invest at Series A/B in both B2C and B2B companies based in South-East Asia/ India, with the desire to build a regional business. More specifically we invest in 3 themes: – consumer brands for the digital native Asian, – digital platforms transforming SMEs – global tech category leaders born in Asia. As simple as it looks, I typically look for 4 things when evaluating an opportunity: team, market size, traction and exit potentiel. We back business savvy founders, with deep knowledge of their sector and the pain point they are solving, demonstrated ability to attract and retain talent. Complementary skill set is essential. As for the business model, we are looking for defensibile moats, be it proprietary data or network, and high margin / strong unit economics at scale.
We are very fortunate and proud of our track record in recognizing and helping founders build category-defining companies such as Livspace, Kredivo, Moglix, Deskera, Paysense, Mobikon, Pomelo Fashion and Reddoorz in the region. Our build to last ethos has been essential to our success as the preferred and first institutional partner for all of our portfolio companies.
Besides providing capital, what else do you do with the companies you back?
It’s about creating a solid relationship, working together through ups and downs, scaling their business, attracting and retaining the best talents, securing future rounds of financing and ultimately an exit that maximizes stakeholders value. Alignment with the founders is key. We have deep local investing and operating expertise. On top of funding, we provide leadership development, high-impact business development and operational transformation and we’ve been instrumental in many of our portfolio geographic expansion.
Do you have any advice for startups looking for investment?
– Come prepared. Do your homework on the VC and the person you are meeting. – Pick people with industry knowledge as they will save your time and get your business faster. – Show learning agility. – Have a deep understanding of your market drivers, your core business metrics and the underlying assumptions behind your growth trajectory.
How dare you to be a Female VC 😉?
It’s no secret that tech and VC remains a man’s world. There are only a handful of venture firms with women partners, though two new have been set up/promoted over the last weeks and many initiatives have been launched in 2018 (The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, she1K). Same goes with women founders. It is not easy to be the (relatively) young women surrounded by a board of (older) males and we certainly need to work twice harder to make our points. That being said, I am a strong believer of cognitive diversity and the fact that we all bring different perspective, based on our background, past lives and … gender. VCs always like to say that they invest based on the team and the balanced and complementary skill sets of co-founders. So it’s the same has to be true for us.
What do you do to bring more diversity in this man’s world?
Without compromising on other things such as market size etc, I am definitely actively looking for women-founded startups and promoting them internally.. So calling all the ladies out there!
I’m also part of an initiative by the FrenchTech to encourage women to jump into angel investment. We are hosting a series of events and workshops to give them the tools to analyse investment opportunities and be ready to take action. I’m also part of the SheVC Asia group, a community of women VCs, Angels, and LPs across Asia.