Singha goes unicorn hunting with venture capital outfit

Singha goes unicorn hunting with venture capital outfit

Singha Corporation, an investment arm of Boon Rawd Brewery Co, the maker of Singha beer, is exploring technology and innovation by setting up a wholly owned subsidiary, Singha Ventures Capital Fund Ltd, to seize opportunities in startups and handle disruption.

According to Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, chairman of the executive board, Singha Ventures set up in Hong Kong in the middle of last year and will invest up to 25% in startups.

He said the company wants to forge long-term partnership with startups and together build "unicorns".

"If we cannot keep away from technological changes, we have to be ready to confront the changes," Mr Bhurit said. "Singha Ventures is another important step for our group. Via the Singha Ventures scheme, the group can move at a faster pace."

He said Singha Ventures will focus investment on three key industrial pillars: consumer goods, including food, drinks, health products, seasonings and packaging; supply chain management and logistical technologies; and enterprise solutions such as cloud computing, payment systems and partner credit solutions.

"Currently there are successful startups in Indonesia, China and Singapore," Mr Bhurit said. "We want to boost Thailand to become a hub for startups."

Apart from the three pillars, the company is interested in investing in fields such as healthcare, which will grow in importance as Thailand becomes an ageing society.

Other promising areas are biotech, property tech and the Internet of Things. Singha Ventures will pursue Series A startups with a clear business model and recognised revenue.

The company will also look at investing in the seed-funding stage if the idea is interesting and could bring positive synergy with Singha Corporation and its partners.

Last year, Singha Ventures spent US$25 million each to invest in two funds: Kejora Ventures, Southeast Asia's biggest technology ecosystem, headquartered in Jakarta and already invested in more than 29 startups; and Singapore's Vertex Ventures, which boasts a wide network of seasoned experts in technology and venture capital from all over the world.

Apart from gaining return on investment of 2.5-3 times from the two funds, Singha Ventures can bring in technology to leverage with Singha's organisation and network.

Mr Bhurit said the company will set aside $25 million or more to invest this year.

"Around the world, several big companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have grown from startups," Mr Bhurit said. "We would like these startups to be successful in their businesses and become a real unicorn."

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