A prominent tech investor, Eduardo Saverin is best known for being Facebook’s co-founder. Since he emigrated to Singapore in 2012, he’s been involved with 5 successful Singaporean startups as an investor. As a venture capitalist, he has said that investment, to him, is also about providing support to the entrepreneur beyond funding.
1. Redmart (Since Jan 2014)
Founded in 2011, online supermarket Redmart links grocery and home essential manufacturers directly to consumers, also providing delivery services for products bought through them.
Saverin has shown a definite interest in e-commerce, also investing in companies like Mumbai-based baby and mother products e-retailer Hopscotch and internet banking transaction company Xfers. He was was involved with Redmart since its Venture funding round, Redmart having since raised $155 million in funding after its recent Series C round according to Index.
2. Nitrous (Since Apr 2013)
A cloud-based web application development house, Nitrous was formerly known as Action.io back in 2012. Nitrous enables developers to code from any machine connected to the internet, share coding environments and collaborate with other developers in real-time.
Saverin’s involvement in Nitrous is only as an investor; the company has raised $7 million in funding through 2 rounds, all going towards the expansion of the company’s infrastructure.
In 2015, Nitrous announced that The Flatiron School, one of San Francisco’s leading coding academies, will be using their software to “power coding summer camps for pre-college students across the nation.”
3. 99.co (Since Jan 2015)
99.co is a house-hunting service which adopts a user-centric approach by surfacing listings to users through search algorithms. CEO Darius Cheung told TechCrunch , “we’re offering a new way of doing property search. Our search results are relevant to our visitors and not corrupted by advertising money.”
Saverin’s deep involvement with 99.co is surprising, directly mentoring Cheung on his position as a CEO and also acting as a board member in the company. Saverin told Bloomberg, “They were trying to make people’s lives better … [Their] mission really drove me to the team and to Darius.”
Saverin has also personally advocated 99.co to 300 property agents at its second-anniversary bash as “a business that is highly qualified,” appearing alongside Cheung. “If you had not time to spend with the entrepreneur, and there isn’t an alignment of interest and this is merely capital, don’t do it.” Saverin said at the 2016 Tech in Asia conference, emphasizing the need for confidence in the companies people want to invest in.
4. Perx (Since Dec 2015)
Mobile e-commerce services app Perx has evolved since their initial concept of being an all-in-one loyalty cards app. Since 2015, Perx has been rolling out a host of customer engagement and analytics functions to enterprises.
Perx has not disclosed the amount of funding they have received for their Series A round, but boasts 400,000 registered users, 5 million monthly app impressions and partnerships with more than 200 merchants in Singapore.
Anna Gong, CEO of Maiplay Pte Ltd said, “Recognising the value and importance of intelligent customer engagement and data analytics in today’s market, we are committed to shaping Perx as the hub connecting consumers and businesses”.
5. Tech in Asia (Since Jun 2015)
Calling itself “the online community for Asia’s startup ecosystem,” Tech in Asia’s Series C funding which Saverin participated in raised $4 million towards their “next phase” aimed at increasing community involvement and interaction.
The media-shy Saverin made a surprising appearance at Tech in Asia’s own conference, speaking at length to a room full of entrepreneurs and investors about why he is driven to invest in the South East Asian tech industry and companies.
In the conference he emphasised, “It’s critically important that the entrepreneur has real passion for what they’re doing. It’s a very difficult job to start a business, and if you’re not willing to crawl through glass to get your business to be successful to its ultimate mission, you shouldn’t be doing it.”
Other Prominent Partnerships
Boxer Manny Pacquiao Invests in Gtoken
Launched in December 2014 and now valued at US$60 million, GTOKEN is a crowdsourced mobile gaming publisher advertising platform. With their own common currency across the games they publish, GTOKEN is also a community with loyalty programs for its users.
According to a company statement released on 6 Jun 2016, they have a million users across South East Asia, Taiwan and China. When asked, GTOKEN refused to disclose the details of the deal, but has mentioned that Pacquiao has acquired a “meaningful” stake in the company.
Manny Pacquiao, who has recently retired from an illustrious boxing career as an eight-division world champion, is currently serving in the Philipines government as a Senator.
South East Asia’s tech industry is growing rapidly, and it is the hungry entrepreneurs that will grow alongside the markets. Saverin has urged entrepreneurs to do things instead of being scared if others are, because it’s about following your own path and your own passion. Expect more big players to enter the SEA industry, if they haven’t already.