Japanese seed investor Rebright Partners, led by veteran entrepreneur Takeshi Ebihara, recently formed a new investment fund focusing on the internet and mobile business in Southeast Asia.
We caught up with Ebihara in a recent interview, and he explained what he’s aspiring to do with this new fund.
Can you give us some general information about this new fund?
The fund is focused on investing in startups in Southeast Asian regions. From our perspective, [we’re looking at] six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore. The fund’s limited partners are mainly Japanese individual investors or entrepreneurs with a proven track record, such as the founders of TSE-listed companies or those who have exited their companies.
You are investing in Indonesian startups under Batavia Incubator, a joint venture with Indonesia’s Corfina Group. Is the new fund any different from your regular investments?
Batavia Incubator aims to invest in immature but high potential startups in Indonesia, and what we’ve been doing under Batavia is something like incubative activities rather than investments. The new fund focuses on the entire Asian region, and invests in relatively promising startups run by experienced entrepreneurs.
Have you yet invested in any startups with the new fund?
Yes, we actually set up the fund about a couple of weeks ago, but we have already invested in two startups. One is Adskom, an ad tech startup in Indonesia founded by two experienced entrepreneurs. They will provide a supply-side platform (SSP) solution for managing real-time bidding on online ad networks. The other is a Singaporean startup, but we can’t disclose their name for now because they would like to announce it when their new service is live.
What’s unique about this new fund?
We can summarize the fund’s uniqueness in four points.
- Focusing on multiple markets in Southeast Asian regions. That’s why our investees are startups which will not be satisfied with doing business in just their home markets, but expects business expansion across the entire regions.
- We are expecting to invest in relatively promising startups, founded by well-experienced serial entrepreneurs who have many connections with local markets.
- We’re focused on markets where user acquisition cost is quite low. And that’s Southeast Asia for now. The user acquisition cost in the region is about one-tenth of that of the US or Japan. That’s why some US funds and angel investors are also interested in joining the fund.
- We focus on investing in internet services for consumers because this space will benefit from local people’s [growing] appetite for consuming digital content and merchandise.
Especially over the past few months, several Japanese VC firms have rapidly established new funds with the intention to investments in tech startups in the Southeast Asian market. We are hoping these efforts help the startup communities in Japan and Southeast Asia become closer than ever in their collaboration.