VENTURE capital (VC) funds for startups in the Philippines seem like as scarce as rain in summer. Filipino startups sure could use a rain of funds.
On Wednesday, October 10 (10-10), the VC heaven opened up, unleashing a torrent in the form of a US$10-million seed fund (around Php541 million — $1 = Php54.09).
Things should be looking a bit rosy.
It’s because top China and Southeast Asia VC firm Gobi Partners have struck a tie-up with a newly-formed Filipino VC startup named Core Capital created by three Visayas residents — Carlo Delantar, founder; Jason Gaisano; and Ken Ngo, managing partner.
Executives of Gobi Partners & Core Capital in the ceremonial signing of their partnership accord. From right, Arya Masagung, Ku Kay Mok of Gobi Partners; Core’s Ken Ngo, Jayson Gaisano, & Carlo Delantar (behind). Startups may get US$100,000 to $1 million aid. (EKU)
The three tech-savvy Cebuanos have many years of startup-related experiences between them, with Delantar and Gaisano earning their startup spurs abroad, and Ngo doing it across the Philippines.
Gobi Partners Managing Partner Ku Kay Mok and Arya Masagung, another Gobi Partners executive, both based in Singapore, came to Manila as they launched with Core Capital a US$10-million fund dedicated to supporting seed- or early-stage and pre-Series A companies or startups in the Philippines.
Gobi Partners is no-pushover in the world of VC; it is armed with more than $1.1-billion in Assets Under Management (AUM).
Dubbed the Gobi-Core Philippine Fund, or PH Fund in short, Core Capital will co-manage the $10 million seed money. Core Capital was born only in 2018.
In an interview with Delantar, he told SDN — Scitech and Digital Newss said they’ve done quite a work on entrepreneurial endeavors since they returned to the country.
“But now our goal is very, very clear cut. We wanted to help enterprises or startups around the Philippines, knowing that we’ve been through it. We felt that we could also work with other people and help them,” the founder of Core Capital pointed out.
He said they are looking at providing fund assistance to startups from $100,000 up to $1 million.
Inspired by regional startups’ success
“It’s a very, very novel and simple idea we realized when Gobi Partners came into the picture when we visited them in November last year (2017). We met up with them and we were just amazed about what the regional startups were doing, and we were thinking how can we do something in the Philippines,” he added.
Now, their dream to help local startups has been realized with the entry of Gobi as Core will co-manage the PH Fund.
Delantar said they are optimistic that with the launch of the fund, “floodgates will open.”
“We know there are potential (startups) that could do more not just nationally but regionally if supported by the right people and networks,” he emphasized. “We can help them grow, we can also help them expand their growth, and scaling is very important, the social impact also.”
The initial focus of the PH Fund is on B2B e-commerce, platform-as-a-service (PaaS), health tech and logistics companies. Expansion for the fund is also in the horizon for other sectors including travel, entertainment, and retail tech moving forward.
Core Capital “provides early stage financing for technology companies with a focus on the Philippines,” they said in a statement.
On the other hand, Gobi Partners has already in its belt a 16-year track record.
The PH Fund marks the Chinese VC’s first foray into the Philippine startup community, but has been expanding in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, raising 10 funds so far with offices, aside from Beijing, Tianjin Shanghai, and Hong Kong (all in China), in Bangkok, Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Singapore.
Gobi Partners’ Ku Kay Mok (right) and Arya Masagung, both based in Singapore. (EKU)
Their PH Fund will put into practice Core and Gobi’s belief in the favorable timing, the potential of the country’s economy and growing purchasing power of its young population.
Core and Gobi’s partnerships can count on the strong support of the latter’s teams across China, Hong Kong, and SEA, which are “ready to contribute a proven track record, tested processes, and best practices to provide fund administration, advisory and investment support to this new partnership.
Thomas G. Tsao, Gobi Partners founding partner, voiced excitement with their first entry into the Philippines.
“We’ve been consistently amazed by the level of entrepreneurial talent in the Philippines. The same growth patterns that occurred in China and Indonesia are now happening in the Philippines,” Tsao pointed out.
Much to learn from others
“We believe in the Philippines, and at the same time, we also understand that there’s still so much we can learn from other countries and VCs. With this partnership with Gobi, we are confident that we can strategically connect local and regional stakeholders,” said Ngo.
He added: “The creation of the Gobi-Core PH Fund puts us in a unique position to add value and support founders in the country’s growing startup ecosystem.”
Awaiting beneficiary startups from the PH Fund is not only the financial package, but just as important are access as well as being able to leverage on the vast Philippine network of Core, such as its business operating experience as well as Gobi’s regional platform that they can use to help them scale across China and other Southeast Asian countries.
Delantar said they are looking for startups that are already revenue-generating and already in the market and ready to get to the next level.
Core Capital message
“For startups in the Philippines, now is the time to work on your ideas,” he called on local startups, adding there are many who want to help.
The Gobi-Core PH Fund will support the Philippine startup ecosystem get to the next level, he said.
Startup founders or entrepreneurs can easily reach out to Core Capital through its website (https://corevc.ph), said Delantar.
Among those present at the launch included representatives of QBO Innovation Hub, such as Natasha Dawn Bautista, operations head, and Dominique “Nikki” Natividad, content specialist.
QBO is the public-private sector engineered initiative designed “to develop, grow, and scale a competitive startups ecosystem in the Philippines.” It is based at the International Building of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) along Gil Puyat (Buendia) Avenue, Makati City. (EKU)