500 Startups is a US startup investor which has backed dozens of startups around the world, and is now increasing its focus on Asia with a new $10 million fund aimed squarely at Thailand. The organisation already launched a $10 million Asian fund in 2013, called ‘500 Durians’, but the new one (“500 TukTuks”) is dedicated solely to Thailand.
“500 Startups” invests in Thailand
According to Jon Russell of TechCrunch, 500 Startups has declined comment, but the online tech site has seen pitch documents provided to investors, and also confirmed it with sources within Thailand. Apparently, the fund is not signed and sealed yet, but close to a formal announcement which is expected next month.
500 Startups has invested in eight companies in Thailand via 500 Durians, and plans to use half the 500 TukTuks fund allocated to early stage companies, which is reportedly around 67 deals. The documents state that 500 TukTuks will inject around $75,000 as a first investment, usually as seed funding, as well as larger figures of $150,000 for follow-on investments in startups “that show signs of becoming big winners.”
500 Startups is a high profile investor in Thailand, with the fund managed by two people: Natavudh Pungcharoenpong (LinkedIn Profile), CEO of Ookbee and Ruangroj Poonpol (LinkedIn Profile), a former US-based Google marketing manager who runs Disrupt University (a program to increase Thailand’s links with Silicon Valley) and currently a Commercial Director at Telenor. Also involved as an advisor is Khailee Ng, 500 Startups’ Southeast Asia partner.
“We believe the Thai market is hot, and we’re seeing liquidity avenues open up for startups in the region. This makes for a valuable opportunity for early-stage investing”, said 500 Startups in its investor pitch.
Thailand is a hot property at the moment – there are 65 million people and 40 million have Internet access, primarily on mobile phones. Line is the most popular social network, with its 35 million users beating even the number of Facebook users.
500 Startups wants to make early moves in the Thai investment scene, and 500 TukTuks is seen as an important next step.
SOURCE: Jon Russell, Tech Crunch