Monk's Hill Ventures Brings S$100 Million to the Table for Southeast Asian Startups

Aulia Masna - 15 May 2014

Entrpreneurs backing entrepreneurs is what Monk's Hill Ventures describes itself. The new S$100 million venture fund based out of Singapore and Jakarta is run by people with strong experiences in building and running companies in Southeast Asia as well as the United States. It aims to assist companies in the region with the required mentorship, funding, and guidance.

Monk's Hill Ventures is founded by four seasoned entrepreneurs. Peng Tsing Ong is founder and former CEO of Interwoven, which went public on NASDAQ in 1999 and is now part of HP. He founded enterprise identity management company Encentuate which was acquired by IBM, and co-founded which was acquired by IAC, owner of, OKCupid, Tinder, College Humor, Vimeo, and other major Internet brands.

Kuo Yi Lim ran Singapore's US$200 million Infocomm Investments which invested in Reebonz, Twilio, and Mobilewalla among many others and worked with Ong at Encentuate as VP of international sales.

Stefan Jung recently was the regional lead for Rocket Internet, co-founding e-commerce outlets Zalora and Lazada in the region and in 2013 was a partner at Samwer brothers' Global Founders Capital in which he led investment in Indonesia's Traveloka.

The fourth co-founder is Bubble Motion/Bubbly CEO Thomas Clayton who will serve as a special advisor to the team while Lolabox co-founder Christian Sutardi will join as associate.

“There are clearly two big gaps in the market. One is the much talked-about Series A funding gap. However, the more significant one that we see is the lack of seasoned entrepreneurs, with deep operating experience, as investors—people who can roll up their sleeves and really help entrepreneurs”, says Ong.

The partners at Monk's Hill will tap into their connections across Asia and North America to help entrepreneurs with further fundraising, landing key enterprise customers, recruiting top talent, and expanding internationally. They aim to help as many startups and entrepreneurs as possible in order to help accelerate the growth across the region.

It's one thing to be able to manage a large fund, it's another to know how to mentor startups and through the vast knowledge and experience that the partners have, Stefan Jung is confident that Monk's Hill will be able to achieve that. “I learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to build successful businesses across Asia, and the nuances of each country, as we incubated and scaled up a number of businesses— including Zalora, Lazada, and FoodPanda”, said Jung in a statement. He added that many of the individuals that he and his team have trained in the past have gone on and built major startups in the region.

Jung told DailySocial that the venture is close to signing its first deal and will make an announcement as soon as it's official. "We've been looking at a lot of companies and will talk to a few more but obviously we're not going to invest in all of them. If we close just a handful in our first year, that's fine for us. We can help improve the field through our discussions even if we don't invest". Ultimately that is what Monk's Hill is looking to achieve.

Lim said in a statement, “we also want to set the bar for how venture is done in Asia, by bringing the best practices we have personally experienced through working with top VCs ourselves”.

The venture is looking at two areas of investing in Southeast Asia. One is early stage and Series A and B funding of high growth Southeast Asian companies and the other is companies from outside the region looking to expand in Asia.

According to Clayton, “in just the past three years, there has been a rapid emergence of new entrepreneurs and great startups across Southeast Asia with vibrant ecosystems forming, from Singapore and Jakarta to Bangkok and Manila”.

Monk's Hill is one of the six beneficiaries of the Singapore government's National Research Foundation's Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF), receiving $10 million as part of the $60 million grant which was announced in late April. The NRF matches the funds on a 1:1 basis giving startups a fresh pool of $120 million to tap into from six venture capital companies.

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