500 Startups Plans to Start Philippine Fund in 2017

  • Philippines would be third micro fund in Southeast Asia
  • Venture investor seeking more early-stage startups in Asia

Vishal Harnal: Asia Startups Going Through a Renaissance

500 Startups is likely to debut a fund dedicated for the Philippines in 2017 to back more promising local startups, following its success with mClinica, a health-and-drug information network that connects doctors, patients and pharmacies.

The micro fund would be the venture investor’s third in Southeast Asia, following the debut of $10 million funds for Thailand and Vietnam. 500 Startups has already invested in about 10 ventures in the Philippines.

“One of my favorite companies is mClinica,” 500 Startup Partner Vishal Harnal said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Shery Ahn at the Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Hanoi Thursday. “It’s really a regional product that started in the Philippines, and now it’s scaling across the world.”

500 Startups, one of the most active early-stage venture investors in Southeast Asia, in October closed the $50 million Durian II fund to continue betting on the region. Through the fund, Harnal and partner Khailee Ng plan to invest in 200 seed-stage companies in the next few years. Their strategy is to sprinkle small amounts of money across a large number of startups, and double down on the winners, Harnal said. In Vietnam, 500 Startups has made about 20 investments with local partners so far.

“The startup environment in Southeast Asia is going through a bit of a renaissance period right now,” he said, adding that Indonesia is “the crown jewel” of the region. “It’s a consumer economy. You’re awakening the beast; it’s coming alive as more and more people come out of the middle class,” he said. “Anything that leverages on the consumers is going to do well in that market and we’re making bets in that space.”

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