Weeks after more than doubling the size of its fund for Southeast Asia, U.S.-based VC firm 500 Startups has intensified its focus on the region once again after it increased the size of its micro-fund for Thailand to $12 million.
We first reported on ‘500 Tuktuks’ back in February, and the $10 million fund — which operates alongside the ‘500 Durians’ Southeast Asia fund — became official this summer. The fund has invested in 10 startups so far, including payment firm Omise, and now its total capital is being extended by $2 million, as Thailand’s startup ecosystem begins to show promising signs of growth.
Ruangroj ‘Krating’ Poonpol, who this month left his job at Telenor to go full-time with 500 Tuktuks, said that the fund plans to invest in 60-70 young companies over the coming three years.
“We cannot emphasize enough that this may be Thailand’s golden age of tech startups,” Poonpol and Natavudh ‘Moo’ Pungcharoenpong, CEO of publishing firm Ookbee and the second managing partner of 500 Tuktuks, said in a joint statement.
As I mentioned when we reported on the fund earlier this year, the concept of micro-funds in Southeast Asia is interesting because the startup scene is so nascent in many parts of the region that, by investing in a large number of deals, 500 Startups is effectively taking equity across the entire ecosystem.
Thus, a few decent exits would be enough to return the fund — which is not huge — and the sheer breadth of its presence puts 500 Tuktuks in a central position for future deal flow and influence in Thailand as the local ecosystem continues to develop.
In addition to Thailand and Southeast Asia, 500 Startups’ Asia presence includes country-specific funds in Japan and Korea, while it has people on the ground in China, India and Vietnam. In the case of the latter, the VC is in process of raising a micro-fund for Vietnam in the style of 500 Tuktuks.