SeedPlus closes $18M early-stage fund backed by Cisco, Eight Roads and others

SeedPlus, the early-stage investment firm backed by Singapore’s Jungle Ventures, has closed its debut fund at a total of SG$25 million, or approximately $18 million.

The firm also announced that Cisco and Eight Roads Ventures, the investment arm of Fidelity, have joined IFC and Indian business magnate Ratan Tata among the fund’s LPs. It added that the fund was over-subscribed.

The firm is seeking five to six deals per year, with a check size of SG$500,00 to SG$1 million (US$360,000-$725,000) per deal. Beyond investments, it plays a more hands-on role with its companies than is conventional, while it has connections with Series A+ investors since Jungle Ventures and Accel are among its backers.

We first wrote about SeedPlus when the firm was announced last May, and it has completed five investment deals since then, the most recent being Singapore-based elderly care startup Homage. One of its portfolio, Moglix, has already closed its Series A round and is currently raising its Series B, which is an early validation of the SeedPlus investment thesis, partner Tiang Lim Foo told TechCrunch.

Foo is one of a trio of hires SeedPlus made with a focus on “operating” partners, i.e. investors with experience of running companies hands-on rather than just cutting checks. Alongside Foo, formerly head of Asia for Evernote, the firm hired ex-Yahoo exec Michael Smith and Gabriel Lundberg from Spotify. Today, SeedPlus officially announced it has added Chirayu Wadke, who was most recently with Google, to the team to expand its focus into internet-of-things startups.

“We’re pretty hands on, the role we play now is slightly different to management teams of a startup,” Foo said in an interview. “We are not just investing, but are also involved in strategic business areas. That could mean advice around anything like brand positioning, PR, building out an engineering team or helping to recruit and interview new hires.”

Foo said the addition of Cisco and Eight Roads gives more strategic options for its portfolio companies as they mature and develop their businesses going forward.

“We already have strategic downstream investors for some of the startups we work with, [these new partners] give them a preview on distribution — what needs to be done if you enter India, or the U.S., for example as a business. We have LPs who are global by nature so can help you enter these markets [while] from a technical advice standpoint they are valuable, too,” he added.

SeedPlus parent Jungle Ventures is one of Southeast Asia’s most active investors. It started out as a ‘super angel’ seed-stage fund, but last year it closed a $100 million fund that moves it further down the food chain to Series A and Series B deals. With SeedPlus, then, its retains a link to the early-stage segment of Southeast Asia’s rapidly expanding startup ecosystem to help with deal flow, prospect scouting and more.