Despite global headwinds, Southeast Asia’s early-stage startups are still going strong, say the founders of Iterative Capital. The Singapore-based venture capital firm, which runs a YC-style accelerator program, announced today it has raised $55 million for its Fund II from LPs like Cendana, K5 Global, Village Global and Goodwater Capital.
Other backers include a group of founders and executives, such as Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi, Bukalapak co-founder and former CEO Achmad Zaky, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Andrew Chen, former YC COO Qasar Younis, former Foursquare CEO David Shim and Airbnb Asia head Kum Hong Siew.
Since launching Iterative’s Fund I in 2021, the firm has backed more than 65 companies in five cohorts. Its portfolio companies have raised $163 million in follow-on funding and are worth $1.2 billion in total. Venture firms that have invested in Iterative’s portfolio companies include Insight Partners, Tiger Global, Monk’s Hill, Wavemaker and Hustle Fund.
The new funding will allow Iterative to increase its check sizes to $500,000 and add more programs for founders in different stages, including ones for earlier-stage founders who aren’t ready for an accelerator yet and later-stage founders who have already gained strong traction. With Fund II, Iterative’s plan is have bigger batches of startups of about 30 each. Its goal is to invest in 100-plus companies at more stages, including pre-seed, seed and Series A startups. While Iterative’s first fund did not perform follow-on investments, the firm is now in the position to do so.
Iterative co-founder and general partner Brian Ma said Fund II took just four weeks to raise, because Fund I’s founders performed well. Many of the first fund’s LPs returned and attractive return profiles in Southeast Asia also attracted new LPs.
Startups in Iterative programs have access to its 80+ group of venture partners and visiting partners, who are all previous or current operating founders.
“More concretely, we run weekly office hours, group office hours, speakers and workshops with our visiting partners, have a scaled-out fundraise bootcamp program, a built-out network to automate white-gloved introductions to investors and 450+ investors engage with our startups at our demo days,” said Ma.
“Some of the most important work actually happens post-cohort, where we help alumni companies deal with negotiating their A’s or B’s, deal with scaling their organizations and help coach them through co-founder issues and other growing pains.”
Some examples of Iterative’s portfolio companies that have recently raised money include Spenmo, which closed an $85 million Series B round led by Tiger Global; travel company GoZayaan, which raised $8 million and acquired FindMyAdventure to expand beyond Pakistan; and proptech startup Propseller, which raised a $12 million Series A in August. Meanwhile, another Iterative alum, Sendhelper, was acquired by PropertyGuru in October.
Iterative’s founders remain upbeat about startups in Southeast Asia. Even though there are currently fewer startups currently exiting there, early-stage investments continue to increase. For example, a report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Co. found that Southeast Asia is “relatively less impacted by global economic trends” and that its real GDP growth is still 4.6% year-over-year. Iterative’s founders also note that Southeast Asia’s digital economy is expected to reach $200 billion this year, while Indonesia’s online spending it expected to hit $130 billion by 2025. Vietnam is an especially promising market, forecasted to more than double its online GMV over the next three years.
Ma said Southeast Asian startups benefit from high potential and reasonable valuations. “With depressed economies and lofty priced companies in the U.S., China, etc., more capital is flowing into more nascent and higher growth regions like Southeast Asia. We believe this is where the best returns will come from in the next seven to 10 years.”