Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based VC fund founded by a group of investors in Singapore and India, focuses on early-stage investments in Singapore, India and the South-east Asia.The fund is led by Amit Anand, who is also the deputy chairman for the Business Angels Network South East Asia (BANSEA), and Anurag Srivastava, an entrepreneur and angel investor in Singapore. The seed level co-investors and advisors include names like Jayesh Parekh â€“ one of the founders of Sony Entertainment Television and currently an active angel investor, Dave McClure a venture capitalist and founding partner at 500 Startups, an internet startup seed fund and incubator programme, and Gokul Rajaram, product director (advertisement) at Facebook. The fund focuses on seed-to-early-series A investments and has invested in four companies, out of which two are Indian firms. In a candid conversation with Techcircle.in, Amit Anand discusses the nuances of early-stage investments, trends to look out for and future plans of Jungle Ventures.
Tell us more about your fund and investments.
As you know, it is a Singapore-based venture capital fund, founded by Indian-origin professionals (my partner Anurag and I started it). We have been in Singapore for a long time and started Jungle Ventures almost 12 months ago, focusing only on early-stage investments in South-east Asia and India. So far, we have made four investments â€“ three in South-east Asia (One Animation, Cinemacraftand Sconce Solutions and one in India (Mobikon Technologies).
What kind of capital do you have and what are your plans going ahead?
Ours is a micro-VC model and we look to invest $500,000-$1 million or a maximum of $2 million. Our target is to do 4-5 deals every year for the next 2-3 years. Currently, the fund has $15 million, but it's a running fund and capital will be raised again when it is required.
Will the capital last you another 2-3 years as you have already made four investments?
Right now, we want to invest in the right portfolio of companies and see where it leads us in a couple of years. And looking at early series A opportunities which require around $1-2 million, we believe it is a sizeable amount. Also, micro-VC funds are usually in the $15-20 million region only.
Moreover, we have relationships with quite a few agencies in Singapore and we are an approved co-investor with Spring Seeds Singapore, an agency backed by the Singapore government. Gradually, we will have $20-25 million of capital at our disposal, out of which $15 million will be from us and the rest will be pre-committed by these agencies.
How do you wish to leverage your partnership with Accel Partners? Are you looking at any specific sector?
Accel Partners is in a co-investment model with us. We have Subrata Mitra (Accel's managing partner) as one of our advisors on our incubator. We are not sector-agnostic as such but are keen on e-commerce and would like to focus on travel and lifestyle companies in that space. Plus, we will also continue to invest in digital media, apps and all other emerging areas.
What kind of companies are you looking for?
We are mainly looking for early series A opportunities. Apart from that, any company with a product in hand, a few customers and an idea/plan about scaling up would be of interest.
The Indian budget this year has a clause for angel investment taxation. Do you think it will prompt more people to go for seed/series A funding rather than opting for angel funding?
Personally, I am quite confused about the rationale behind it. Once we clearly understand why the government has done it, only then we can defend it. As for affecting businesses, there might be such a situation for some time while people try and figure out how to cope with it. They may keep their investments on hold but once the initial furore dies, I am sure it will be business as usual.
I really don't feel that people will skip angel funding as it is a crucial component in the startup cycle and I don't think VC firms or even small funds like us can take that place. Angel investing will come back to what it has always been as soon as this issue is resolved.
Tell us more about your business-building infrastructure facility. Would you like to introduce a similar model in India?
We provide assistance from seed funding level through to series A. Usually, in seed investments, there is some requirement for incubation. If companies require such support at series A level, we do provide it. It also happened in the case of our recent investment in Pune-based Mobikon Technologies. So we launched it in Singapore and the South-east Asian market. It's not only about providing office space; we help companies with hiring the right people in Singapore and also give them a nudge in the right direction when it comes to entering the market. We want to launch something similar in India soon. Bangalore looks like the place for us but for now, we are still evaluating the whole idea.
How big is your team in India and who heads it?
Right now, there is no one working out of India but we are looking to get a team there soon. There would be 5-7 people on board and some of them would be very senior members.
Finally, what could be the trends this year?
Well, e-commerce and m-commerce will continue to be in the spotlight. Then there are subscription commerce, mobile applications and the entire digital media space. I feel these are all doing great and should continue to do so throughout the year.