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VC, PE investments for Q1-Q3 top SEA total for all of 2016

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"There are dozens of problems still to solve. Why is so much discovery still made through word of mouth? Why do prices stay the same during a busy session as when the restaurant is empty?" - Chope CEO Arrif Ziaudeen (above), on the restaurant booking app's plan to widen its business scope.

Singapore

MORE than US$8 billion in venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) investments was recorded in South-east Asia in between Q1 and Q3 this year. The figure exceeds gross investments in the region for the whole of last year (US$7.1 billion), said the Singapore Venture Capital Association (SVCA).

Total VC and PE investments for Q1 to Q3 last year amounted to US$5.1 billion.

And the money continues to flow. Homegrown startups Chope and CapBridge said on Monday that they have bagged over S$20 million collectively in funding. The deals, coming at a time when investor appetite for tech is strong, lend weight to the uptrend in startup investing this year.

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Chope, a homegrown restaurant booking app and a Singapore Press Holdings-backed startup, has raised S$18 million in Series D funding, led by Square Peg Capital.

The round was joined by C31 Ventures (CapitaLand's corporate venture fund), Moelis Australia and existing shareholders including NSI Ventures, Susquehanna International Group, DSG Consumer Partners, and SPH Media Fund. With that, total funding for the six-year-old startup is now at least US$24 million.

Chope said it would use the latest capital to grow its sales team, boost user experience of its platform and grow its existing markets.

It now has more than 3,000 food and beverage clients across Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia and Thailand, who use its suite of technologies to manage bookings, queues, promotions, e-commerce and pre-payments.

Arrif Ziaudeen, chief executive of Chope, said the startup wants to expand its business scope beyond just running restaurant reservations to the full dining experience.

He told The Business Times: "There are dozens of problems still to solve. Why is so much discovery still made through word of mouth? Why do prices stay the same during a busy session as when the restaurant is empty?"

He did not disclose Chope's latest valuation, but BT understands that the company is targeting profitability between late 2018 and early 2019.

Meanwhile, CapBridge, a company that helps emerging growth firms raise funds for growth, has raised over S$4 million in a new funding round to enhance its online platform.

Among the investors is Singapore Exchange, which has, through its subsidiary Asian Gateway Investments, signed an agreement to subscribe to a 10-per cent equity stake in CapBridge Platform. The latter is a unit of CapBridge that will operate its online capital-raising platform.

CapBridge's latest financing round was joined by a "selective group of seasoned early-stage investors", among them notable US-based venture capitalist Tim Draper.

Joongshik Wang, a partner at Ernst & Young Corporate Finance, said the VC sector in South-east Asia will grow in the next few years, with Singapore becoming the regional hub, and tech continuing to take the lion's share in overall investments.

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