Southeast Asia has become a hotbed for startups and is poised to become a powerhouse driving global economic growth.
In the first half of 2021 alone, an impressive 393 investments were pumped into Southeast Asian startups, according to Cento Ventures. Interestingly, the startup funding scene in this region could skyrocket to over $14 billion by 2023, as reported by Golden Gate Ventures.
The region's burgeoning tech environment isn't unknown to Venture firm 500 Global, which is doubling down on its commitment to the region and has just secured $143 million for its biggest-ever early-stage fund in Southeast Asia, known as "500 Southeast Asia III" or "500 SEA III."
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With an impressive lineup of investors, featuring a sovereign wealth fund, pension funds, a university endowment, and companies from 500 Global's portfolio valued at over $1 billion, the fund is geared towards supporting 100 startups in their pre-seed, seed, and Series A stages, offering initial investments ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 across various Southeast Asian nations.
The goal is to invest in businesses and AI-powered technologies that focus on rural digitalization, create sustainable cities, enhance human-machine collaboration, bolster healthcare, ensure food security, and promote financial inclusion.
Originally targeted for $75 million, 500 SEA III is 500 Global’s third Southeast Asia-focused early-stage fund. In its previous funds, 500 Global has backed more than 340 companies across Southeast Asia, including the ride-hailing app Grab, car e-commerce platform Carsome and Indonesian aquaculture startup eFishery3.
Interestingly 500 Global isn't the only one making big bets in the South East Asia. Venture companies like Argor Capital (formerly Go-Ventures) recently sealed a $240 million deal to back early-stage and mid-stage tech startups in the region. Also, Square Peg Capital, Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, AC Ventures, and Lightspeed have also been actively investing significant funds in the region.