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Less than a year since its inception, First Move, a founder-led early-stage venture capital (VC) firm, is establishing its presence in the Southeast Asian startup scene by backing its first 10 ventures.

Back when we first reported on the fund in early July 2023, its portfolio already consisted of seven companies spanning across Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. 

That number has risen to 10, with its latest press release stating that the majority of its funding has been invested into Malaysian startups and Malaysia-based founders. It’s reported that the average investment size is RM467,000 (US$100,000) per startup.

This is achieved by embracing a collaborative investment approach, whereby First Move partners with other VC firms. This includes notable VCs like 500 Global, Gobi Partners, and Vertex Ventures

Doing so not only provides startups with essential financial support, but also grants them access to networks and mentorship from industry experts. Looking at it from a broader perspective, the approach equips the early-stage startups to compete on a global scale.

Starting off with a diverse portfolio

Some brands that are part of First Move’s portfolio are: 

  • Koppiku, which aims to transform the coffee industry by enabling price accessibility to premium daily needs
  • MalaysianPAYGAP, which champions equal pay and career opportunities, thereby contributing to broader social equity
  • Scentses + Co, which is the first fragrance subscription service in Malaysia and caters to those that like designer perfumes without the commitment
  • Collektr, which connects collectors of unique items and fosters community engagement as well as improves circular commerce
Image Credit: Collektr

Given First Move’s focus on very early stage startups, they primarily look at the strength and experience of the founding team. 

“We place significant value on founders who bring diverse backgrounds, deep domain expertise, and proven operational experience, along with the leadership skills necessary to steer a startup through its formative stages,” Audra Pakalnyte, partner at First Move and the former head of FavePay Later, told us.

Additionally, First Move also assesses the potential of each venture to address significant needs within its target market industry space. In other words, the focus is on the innovation and value propositions these startups bring. Regional scalability is another key criteria, as the fund aims to help brands expand beyond their initial locality. 

Audra emphasised that the fund goes beyond capital injection and believes in helping startups along its growth journey. 

Recognising that often they’re one of the first investors, First Move takes extra steps to assist each venture in their unique needs. This could be finding prospects for co-founders and key leadership positions or product and branding strategies, for example.

The VC occasionally leverages its extensive network to make introductions for collaborations and facilitate further fundraising efforts.

Committed to making an impact

Image Credit: Koppiku

Based on its press release, First Move’s latest investments in Malaysia highlights its commitment to impact investing. 

Dictionary time: Impact investing refers to investments that are made with the goal of generating positive, measurable social or environmental impact alongside financial returns. 

Source: Investopedia

The investments are focused on three specific areas, namely affordability, financial inclusion, and circular economy. This can be seen through First Move’s current portfolio of startups. 

“We are excited about the impact in our first year of operation,” Audra said. “Our investments in Malaysian startups have not only fueled their growth but have also attracted attention and interest from international investors.” 

She told us that each venture has made significant strides in their respective markets and are well positioned to scale up.

As for First Move, the VC is on the lookout for more early-stage ventures and visionary founders with compelling ideas. Those who are interested can start by submitting their pitch deck, or a detailed description of their startup idea, to First Move’s website.

“We welcome all founders with innovative ideas to reach out, even in the early idea phase,” Audra concluded.

  • Learn more about First Move here.
  • Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: First Move

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)