Startups

AC Ventures reaches first close of a $250M fund for Southeast Asian startups

Comment

Jakarta business district with iconic BNI building, used in post about AC Ventures' new fund
Image Credits: Afriandi (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

AC Ventures (ACV), a venture firm focused on early-stage startups in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia, has reached the first close of its fifth investment fund (Fund V). The fund is targeting $250 million and has raised 65% of that capital so far, mostly from limited partners who invested in ACV’s previous funds. Fund V has already made five investments, including SkorLife, IDEAL and Atma.

The last time TechCrunch covered ACV was in December 2021, when it closed its Fund III. (Its fourth fund is focused on Malaysia and run by a separate team.)

Founded in 2014, ACV has a portfolio that now has over 120 investments in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia. Some noteworthy companies include Xendit, Carsome, Stockbit, Ula, Shipper and Aruna. Its team has grown to 35 people, with most based in Indonesia, but ACV also recently established offices in Singapore and Malaysia. Half of ACV’s leadership team are women, and across its portfolio that figure is 40%.

ACV recently hired Helen Wong as managing partner. Wong previously worked at GGV and Qiming Ventures and has served on the boards of startups like Tudou and Mobike.

The firm is sector-agnostic, but many of its investments are in fintech, logistics, e-commerce, MSME and consumer technology. Fund V will also focus on new themes, including climate tech. The firm’s check size in early-stage companies is typically $2 million, and it reserves a large part of each fund for follow-on investments.

“Broadly speaking, we are investing in the digitization of Indonesia and the Southeast Asia economy,” ACV co-founder and managing partner Adrian Li told TechCrunch. “Last year, Indonesia’s digital GDP was $70 billion and that’s expected to grow to over $350 billion in the next five to six years. Through our experience of investing over past funds, we’ve also developed expertise, particularly around commerce opportunities, fintech and micro- and small enterprises. Each of these thematic areas represent really deep pools of revenue potential and we’re seeing a lot of ways in which digital adoption can truly make things more efficient, cost less and create value for all the stakeholders in these verticals.”

In addition to Southeast Asia, Fund V’s LPs come from North Asia, the United States, the Middle East and Europe. Li said global investors are drawn to Southeast Asia as it continues to show evidence of being a maturing market, with the successful IPOs of unicorns like GoTo and Bukalapak, an increase in later-stage capital and more secondary exits.

ACV managing partners Michael Soerijadji, Helen Wong, Adrian Li and Pandu Sjahrir
ACV managing partners Michael Soerijadji, Helen Wong, Adrian Li and Pandu Sjahrir Image Credits: ACV

With its focus on early-stage companies, ACV is often the first institutional investor in startups.

“Our fund plays on a successful strategy we’ve continued to refine to be early-stage focused,” said Li. “That means backing companies at a point where we can be really valuable in the shaping of a business as they build it, and also at a point where we can be meaningful investors partnered with them. We typically invest in 30 to 35 companies per fund and reserve a deep follow-up ratio, 20-1, to invest in companies that are executing and creating value.”

ACV’s efforts to help founders include several key appointments who will work closely with startups — Lauren Blasco as head of ESG, Leighton Cosseboom as head of PR and communications, and Alan Hellawell as a senior adviser and venture partner.

The firm’s value-add includes working with founders to hire key talent and sharing talent operation playbooks. Li said ACV likes to invest early because as teams grow, it can help startups lay down fundamentals for culture, retaining talent and communication. It also helps companies with compliance and governance, like making sure they have functional boards and a good set of advisers.

Another part of its value-creation initiatives are partnerships with conglomerates and business stakeholders in Indonesia that can help startups accelerate the growth of their business. For example, it helps fintech companies work with banks or access capital they can use for lending.

Li said that ACV typically invests in 10 to 12 companies per year across its funds, and that continues despite the global slowdown in venture capital investing. “At times when money is easier, we may try to move a little faster, and at times like this, we may try to move a little slower, but fundamentally what we’re trying to do is underwrite for the right companies, and so we don’t want to be rushed by the timing of how the market is,” he said.

Though valuations across all stages have fallen by about 30% to 40%, Li also sees upsides in the market environment, including in the quality of entrepreneurs.

“What’s great about this type of period is that entrepreneurs are focused much more on quality metrics and product-market fit before starting to scale their businesses,” he said. “I think last year when capital was easy, probably a number of companies chasing topline growth had scaled prematurely, and that’s never the most efficient use of capital. It’s simply trying to grab market share and get the next round, so I think times like this are good for both entrepreneurs and investors alike.”

Funds can no longer just be a source of capital

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

1 day ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

1 day ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo