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Startup incubator JFDI raises $2.1M to accelerate tech startups in Southeast Asia

Startup accelerator Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI.Asia Pte Ltd) has raised $2.1 million (SGD 2.7 million) led by Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL), a Singapore-based investment fund. Venture capital firm SpinUp Partners Ltd; early stage investor Fenox Venture Capital; Pransform Services's Vijay Saraff; Paul Burmester, CEO at ValidSoft; and Thomas Gorissen, as well as a number of unnamed investors from the Philippines also participated in the round.

With this round, the incubator has reached close to the halfway mark of its target of raising $4.7 million (SGD 6 million) to scale up its operations in Singapore and better serve entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia.

"With huge support from the local community, JFDI was the first to bring a new approach to nurturing startup companies to Asia. Now that we have proved that it works, it's time to scale up and that's exactly what this funding allows," said Wong Meng Weng, chairman of JFDI.Asia.

The first beneficiaries of the investment will be the new batch of startups starting with JFDI this month. Including two further runs of the programme later in the year, 2014 should see JFDI add 30-40 startups to its portfolio of alumni, with plans to expand the number by 40-60 startups in 2015.

Apart from participating in the round, a number of private investors are already involved as active mentors to startup companies at JFDI. Since 2012, more than 60 per cent of the 27 teams completing the JFDI programme (one in 2012 and two in 2013) have succeeded in raising on an average over $500,000 (SGD 650,000) per team.

Alex Lin, head of IIPL, said, "IIPL is helping to build a strong pipeline of Singapore-based, high growth and innovation-driven tech startups that can bring about a disruptive change to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. The accelerator model is a key part of our strategy towards achieving this. We are happy that our entry into this partnership as an anchor investor has catalysed JFDI's fundraising round."

"In Russia, we have talented startup teams and capital seeking access to world markets. Singapore is the gateway to Asia for us and we look forward to working closely with JFDI.Asia," said Sergey Gorokhov, director and chairman of the board at SpinUp Partners.

A part of the Global Accelerator Network set up by US accelerator Techstars, JFDI takes teams of entrepreneurs from idea to investment in 100 days (the duration of its boot camp).

Last month, GSF Accelerator, a startup accelerator programme launched by former Reliance Entertainment president and GSF Superangels founder Rajesh Sawhney, had gone global with the launch of GSF Global Accelerator, a cross border accelerator programme. The accelerator will select 12 high-tech startups for the programme, including eight from India, while the rest will come through its alliance partners in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

The programme will last for 12 weeks, during which it will have four stopovers. Starting in mid-April in India, the team will spend four weeks with GSF mentors and advisors in Delhi and Bangalore. This will be followed by two weeks at THE HUB in Singapore, and two weeks in a digital hub on the east coast of North America. Post that, the final four weeks will be spent in the Silicon Valley.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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