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Temasek's Heliconia takes stake in gaming chair firm Secretlab

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Secretlab's Mr Choo (left) and Mr Ang, the former professional gamers who founded the gaming chair brand in 2014. BT understands that the firm's turnover is on track to hit S$100 million by year-end.

Singapore

TEMASEK-OWNED Heliconia Capital Management is taking a minority stake in home-grown gaming chair brand Secretlab, in a deal estimated at S$200 to S$300 million.

This is the first outside investment for Secretlab, which was founded in 2014 by former professional gamers Ian Alexander Ang, 27, and Alaric Choo, 31.

Secretlab joins the ranks of other young and fast-growing companies backed by Heliconia, which include gaming hardware manufacturer Razer and mixed martial arts company ONE Championship.

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Heliconia's mandate is to identify and support Singapore-headquartered companies to become globally competitive firms.

Heliconia's backing will boost Secretlab's research and development initiatives, procurement of supply chain, and ability to attract talent and global partnerships that will take it to the next level, said the company in a media release on Tuesday.

With just over 60 staff in Singapore, Secretlab's chairs are sold in over 50 countries, with over 200,000 sold to date.

Secretlab was also among the winners of the Emerging Enterprise Awards in 2017, jointly organised by OCBC Bank and The Business Times.

The company added that sales have grown 10-fold since its win two years ago. The two co-founders were also named in Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia Class of 2018.

BT understands that Secretlab's turnover is on track to hit S$100 million by the end of this year and has been profitable since its early days - a rare feat for many startups.

On the partnership, Mr Ang said: "We've never seen ourselves taking up an outside investor, as we've always done things in our own unique way, and Secretlab is a self-sustaining business."

But at this point in their growth, having Heliconia's corporate expertise is "invaluable" due to its track record of scaling businesses to the next stage, he noted.

"We are very competent in our area of expertise, but at the end of the day, we are aware that there's a whole lot more to learn from the experienced business folks who've been through everything," he explained. "I see ourselves as a dark horse in the Singapore startup scene."

Mr Ang added that Secretlab's vision and day-to-day operations will not change as a result of this investment.

Going forward, the company will focus on making its chairs more widely available in new markets. This will be done through both physical and channel expansion, he said. Singapore currently makes up less than 5 per cent of the company's sales.

Heliconia's CEO Derek Lau said that despite Secretlab being founded only a few short years ago, it is now a "recognised global brand" well-known for its gaming seats.

"Even non-esports fans love their products. We believe the company has significant growth potential," he added. "We hope to add value and journey with them going forward."