Rising Giants Newsletter - November Recap (Part 1)
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Welcome to the Rising Giant's Podcast Newsletter by Max Thornton and Dominic Kalousek.
If you enjoy our content, please subscribe to our post-interview newsletter as we share our most recent podcast episode, Southeast Asia startup and venture capital news, venture deals, entrepreneur resources, and job opportunities in the region!
▶️ Rising Giants Recap
If you missed our recent guests who were on the podcast, select their Spotify box below to tune into their episode. Over these past 2 weeks, we had the pleasure of speaking with Jitka Markova and Vireak Chea, both of whom are making a huge impact in the startup ecosystem and pharmaceutical sector in Cambodia.
We hope you enjoy Bon Om Touk (Cambodian Water Festival) this week and be sure to tune in next week for our release of our new episode with Tania Unsworth, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Seekers Spirits!
N.35 Jitka Markova, Cambodia Programme Lead, 500 Global
Jitka Markova, who is one of the key operators in the incubation space in Cambodia, leading 500 Global's incubation efforts in the country. 500 Global is a venture capital firm with more than $1.8 billion in assets under management that invests early in founders building fast-growing technology companies. Jitka is part of 500's Ecosystems Team, overseeing ANGKOR 500 programme in Cambodia, building partnerships with governments, enterprises, and other stakeholders in driving innovation and developing startup ecosystems through technology startups capacity building, mentoring and training.
N.36 Vireak Chea, CEO & Co-Founder of Pilltech
Dr. Vireak Khloth Chea, who is the co-founder & CEO of PillTech, a certified pharmacist from California receiving his Doctor of Pharmacy from Pacific University Oregon School of Pharmacy. Pilltech is a digital marketplace connecting pharmaceutical suppliers to pharmacy owners in Cambodia. Pilltech is improving Cambodia's pharmaceutical distribution networks by creating a platform to help improve medication safety, reduce counterfeit drugs available in the market and grow efficiency in supply chain management.
📝 Venture Capital Deal Flow Highlights in Southeast Asia
Indonesia-based startup GoTo Group announced today it has secured more than $1.3 billion in the first close of its pre-IPO funding. Ride-hailing giant Gojek and e-commerce company Tokopedia, Indonesia’s two biggest startups, merged to form GoTo Group in May this year. GoTo Group is creating synergies with Gojek, Tokopedia and Goto Financial brands across transport, e-commerce, food and grocery delivery, logistics and financial service industries. GoTo Group claims that it generated more than 1.8 billion transactions in 2020, with gross transaction value of over $22 billion, contributing to more than 2% of Indonesia’s GDP. (Link here).
Philippine fintech startup Mynt has secured more than $300 million in a funding round led by Warburg Pincus and others that values the company at more than $2 billion. The Taguig-based company offers financial services including credit, savings, insurance, loans and investments. (Link here).
Alpha JWC, the Jakarta-based venture capital firm, announced today it has closed its third fund at $433 million. The company says this makes it Southeast Asia’s largest VC fund for early-stage startups and that it was oversubscribed, with an initial target of $250 million to $300 million. The firm invests in early-stage — or pre-seed, seed and pre-Series A — and is often the first institutional investor on a startup’s cap table. Alpha JWC’s partners continue to work closely with their portfolio even as they reach later stages; for example, by connecting them to investors in the United States. (Link here).
Homebase, a Ho Chi Minh City-based proptech startup that helps people buy homes, announced it has raised $30 million in equity and debt. The company’s business model is similar to Divvy Homes and ZeroDown in the United States. Homebase works by acting as a co-investor, buying property with clients who put in a 20% deposit. Then clients pay back a fixed amount to Homebase each month or can decide to buy out the company’s entire share. They can also chose to walk away from the deal and cash out their savings. They will use its new funding to continue developing its proprietary technology, form more partnerships with real estate developers and hiring. (Link here).
Vietnamese education startup MindX, an online/offline education platform that focuses on preparing students for tech careers, raised a $3 million Series A round. The funding will be used to expand MindX’s online platform, create more educational content and expand into Vietnamese Tier 2 and 3 cities and rural provinces. MindX plans to build its network of tech companies that offer jobs to students who complete its courses. (Link here.)
Kilo, a Vietnam-based B2B e-commerce platform that connects wholesalers with micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and wants to digitize the local retail value chain via technology, secured a $5 million pre-Series A to spur its growth. Kilo will use the new capital to grow its team by 4x in the next 12 months and enhance its platform for customers. The company also plans to add features such as financing, logistics and self-service e-commerce store creation for the MSMEs. (Link here).
Philippines-based Plentina, a buy now, pay later startup focused on emerging markets, announced it has raised $2.2 million in seed funding. The new capital will be used to speed-track Plentina’s growth in the Philippines, expand its product and start exploring launches in other countries, including Vietnam. The company is targeting a Series A raise next year and will hire senior talent before then. (Link here).
📰 Frontier Market Start-Up and Venture Capital News in Southeast Asia
🇰🇭 Cambodia ready to showcase investment opportunities for inaugural Asia Europe Economic Business Forum (written by Cambodia Investment Review).
🇧🇩 OpenRefactory, a Bangladeshi origin startup that uses AI to automatically detect and correct programming errors, won $100k at the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant-2021 competition.
🇱🇦 Laos to consider its own digital currency, initiating a joint-study with a Japan fintech startup.
📚 Knowledge Base: Entrepreneur and Investor Learning Resources
In this week’s resource, we want to share with you a first of its kind local news outlet dedicated to Cambodian investment news in the English language called Cambodia Investment Review. CIR is focused on encouraging more quality investment in Cambodia by publishing the latest business and investment news to both local and international audiences. They create a ton of quality content and articles daily about Cambodia’s investment landscape so check them out to stay up to date!
Additional Resources To Check Out:
👨🏼💻 Frontier Market Job Opportunities
Paragon International University is hiring for a Coordinator of Student Innovation Hub in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Platform Impact is hiring for an Impact Venture Builder in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
iCare Leasing PLC is hiring for a Credit Officer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
BIGO, a fast-growing Singapore technology, is hiring for a Business Developer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Belt Road Capital is hiring for a Senior Internal Auditor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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🧐 What is Rising Giants?
Rising Giants was created in 2021 by Max Thornton and Dominic Kalousek after realizing there were limited outlets for gaining insight into the startup and investment ecosystem in the Cambodian and Southeast Asia markets.
Rising Giants serves as an upbeat medium for entrepreneurs and investors to share their experience working and living in some of the most dynamic and positively evolving countries in Southeast Asia.
Our mission is to talk to entrepreneurs and investors to help understand what it takes to have bold ideas and build the business disruptors of tomorrow, in the most challenging, but highest potential markets of the region.
Through our personal exploration of these landscapes, we dive deep in our interviews with inspirational individuals learning about their career journeys, ideas, and insights into the markets of developing startup ecosystems, and expanding on why they see their business and the region as a "Rising Giant”.