Creative Ventures goes deep with fund
Leading Thai corporations and investors are marching to Silicon Valley through Creative Ventures, a US-based deep tech venture dedicated to startups to empower Thailand's economy.
"A second funding round worth US$50 million [1.62 billion baht] has already closed, faster than the expected date of the first quarter 2019, and we are ready to invest in deep tech startups. The venture will expand to Israel after Silicon Valley," said Poonyatorn Suthipongchai, managing partner of Creative Ventures.
The second fund is made up of various corporate ventures Singha Ventures and BCH Ventures (under Benchachinda Holding Group), and individual business investors -- Noi Itthipat "Tob" Peeradechapan, chief executive of Taokaenoi Food and Marketing; Chalermchai Mahagitsiri, chief executive of Thoresen Thai Agencies and founder of Visionity Ventures and Moonshot Ventures; Chanond Ruangkritya, president and chief executive of Ananda Development; and Sitthichai Leesawadtrakul.
Mr Poonyatorn said Israel has many interesting startups in agriculture, healthcare and cybersecurity, and all are expected to grow and play a more important role in the economy.
The second fund targets investment in four areas of deep tech startups in Silicon Valley -- industry (construction, manufacturing, logistics), agriculture and food, energy and healthcare.
"We have a stronger network and we can bring these technologies to our investors' businesses and have these investors be customers of startups," he said.
The company mainly invests in series A funding, worth over $1 million per deal, and aims for returns within 7-10 years, mostly in capital gains at a rate of 3-5 times.
Mr Poonyatorn said the fund is planning to have offices in Singapore and Taiwan to help portfolio companies expand to Asia.
It will invest in VeryCool, a US-based startup that innovates cold chain packaging for environmental savings and competitive prices.
Creative Ventures will add a Singapore office in November this year and plans to expand into high potential deep tech in Taiwan.
Over the next 4-5 years, the company expects to establish a third fund worth $25 million, with larger funding size and dealings.
"Interesting startups need to have breakthrough technologies, scalability and an eye for larger markets overseas," said Mr Poonyatorn.
He said half of the first fund, worth $11 million, has already been invested in 14 companies such as Dishcraft Robotics, which is developing robots for commercial kitchens, and ALICE Technologies, an AI for construction scheduling platform that has already been adopted by Ananda Development.
Vorapat Chavananikul, managing director of Singha Ventures, with a fund size of $25 million, said the firm expects next year local and international startups that it invested in will help add new businesses to the company such as AI for customer insights, food and packaging.
"Investing in overseas startups will foster local startups to work harder, looking to a larger market. The government may consider forming joint investments and offering more incentives to strengthen startups in Thailand," said Mr Vorapat.
He said Singha Ventures might spin off a new firm by collaborating with local and foreign startups to help technology capability here.
Pirachai Bencharongkul, investment director of BCH Ventures, said the company is exploring opportunities in new businesses and advanced technologies as well as investments in telecommunication infrastructure and digital services, including logistics in Asean. BCH has invested directly in e-wallet developer T2P and the Myanmar Information Highway.