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Founded in 2016, Milieu Insight is a consumer research and analytics company that connects businesses directly with their target audience. Milieu’s platform offers businesses a wide range of tools for accessing, analysing, and visualising high-value and timely consumer opinion data to help power better decision-making and strategy in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

By leveraging technology and applying consumer research best practices, Milieu built an opinion-based insights platform to connect communities to organizations, making understanding consumer sentiments and behaviours quick, simple, and fun! Milieu’s mobile app user base has grown from 500,000 users in 2019 to over 2 million users in 2020. It has also increased its enterprise customer base by 300% to 180 customers as of October 2021, up from 45 at the start of 2020.

Recent news: Milieu has raised US$5 million in its latest funding round for product innovation, developing new software as a service-oriented consumer insight offerings, and expanding beyond South-east Asia (11 November 2021).

“Genesis believes that the consumer insights industry is due for a tech upgrade and the strong value that Milieu brings to corporates that want to know what their customers are thinking and where the trends are heading. When we first encountered their research and insights, we knew that Milieu was solving an important, real-world business problem of consumer insights and their approach could revolutionise the industry,” said Dr Jeremy Loh, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Genesis.

The traditional market research industry was based on primitive methodologies and inefficient processes. Milieu was born out of a conviction that its co-founder and CEO, Gerald Ang, had — that market research should be there to make everybody’s life easier, not tougher. Therefore, he decided to build his own tech-driven automated research product that would operate more efficiently and intelligently, thus revolutionising the way market research is conducted. From Gerald’s perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many industries, but it has only been an accelerator in driving the acceptance of online research.

”Empowering people to share their opinions effortlessly has always been our goal. Our partnership with Genesis allows us to continue building on our positive momentum, improving the user experience of our solutions and reach a wider audience, without experiencing high shareholders’ dilution,” says Gerald.

Recent research published by Milieu include the silent mental health crisis in South-East Asia, the tipping point for switching to electric cars, and where E-wallets stand in the future of payments. Its innovation and insights have not gone unnoticed by the industry, winning the team nine industry awards since 2019, including Campaign Asia’s Most Valuable Product, Marketing Interactive’s Market Research and Programmatic Agency of the Year, as well as several Mobile Experience (Mob-Ex) awards.


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Pace, a Singapore-based fintech solution company that allows customers to ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL), today announced that it has raised USD40 million in its Series A investment round. Investors that joined the round include UOB Venture Management (Singapore), Marubeni Ventures (Japan), Atinum Partners (South Korea), AppWorks (Taiwan), and a series of family offices from Japan and Indonesia. Previous investors, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia, Alpha JWC, and Genesis Alternative Ventures also participated.

Following this investment round, Pace is now the fastest growing multi-territory BNPL player from Singapore. The new funding will go towards expanding technology, operations, and business development, to hit a Gross Merchandise Value run rate of USD1 billion in 2022 and grow its user base by 25X over the next 12 months.

To date, Pace has more than 3,000 points-of-sale across the region, driven by Pace’s ability to increase overall sales up to 25% by leveraging local customer insights, while driving repeat purchases from Pace’s fast-growing base of users.

Launched in 2021 by Turochas ‘T’ Fuad, Pace has successfully grown its overseas operations by working closely with regulators and adapting ultra-local approaches, such as integrating frequently used in-market payment methods to build resonance with merchants and shoppers. It will continue to replicate a hyperlocal framework as it goes live in new countries.

Read the full article here.


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Read the full article here.

Southeast Asia’s business community is buzzing as many of the region’s tech unicorns prepare to go public. Their listings are a validation of the blood, sweat, and tears of their founders, who will be worth millions through the value of their stakes in these companies.

However, according to a Tech In Asia report (26 October 2021), large tech companies that have gone public over the past three years, as well as those that are planning to have an IPO soon, indicates that many Southeast Asian founder have faced greater levels of dilution compared to their peers from other regions.

One possible reason cited for the higher level of dilution is that South-east Asia is not a single integrated market, unlike China or the US.

Another reason may be that most of these companies went through their initial fundraising at a time when venture capital interest in the region was far lower than it is today.

The article also highlighted the rise of venture debt in the SE Asia region could likely to ​improve this dilution problem. Venture debt is seen as founder-friendly, as it helps over-diluting shareholder equity at the early stages of a company’s growth.

On this issue, Genesis’ Managing Director, Jeremy Loh said, ““When these companies went through their initial fundraising rounds, venture debt was not a well-established source of funding in this region. However, the landscape has changed over the past two years. With increased acceptance of venture debt as a complementary financing tool, I am confident that future unicorn founders can retain a larger portion of their shareholder equity”.

Read the full article here.

Read more about venture debt: Top 10 questions Every Founder Asks About Venture Debt


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Did the angel investor, Han Ji-pyeong, in the Netflix show “Start-up” inspire you? While the hit K-drama series was fictional, it offered some interesting peeks into the start-up world and venture capital (VC) funding.

If you are keen on a career in VC, our Managing Director, Jeremy Loh, shares his career journey and some tips:

Genesis (G): How did you get started in the world of venture investing?

Jeremy (J): After completing my PhD in engineering and doing academic research at Imperial College, I returned to Singapore in 2004 and joined A*STAR, the R&D agency supported by the Singapore government.

Did you know A*STAR has more patents than Harvard or MIT? Yet few ideas were successfully converted into real businesses. I’ll share my experience to commercialise one of my patents. My team put together a business plan for an infectious disease diagnostic kit and went out to raise funds. That whole process made me realise that I did not understand the entire concept of starting and running a business.

I have a PhD and was backed by a top-class research team. But at the end of the day, if we cannot commercialise and turn that idea into a business, we are only half successful.

So I started looking at how I could gain experience with the business side of things and came up with two options: I could get an MBA, or join the venture capital industry as it straddled both the technological and the financial aspects of venture creation. Through serendipity, I was presented with an opportunity to join Bio*One Capital, a $1billion healthcare fund under EDBI that invested in medical devices, drug discovery development, stem cells etc.

Looking back, I realised that my entry in the venture capital industry was a transition. What I did was to leverage my domain expertise in precision and bio engineering to open doors into the financial industry.

G: I hear that the VC space is fast-paced and cut-throat. How true is this?

J: One thing that I can say for certain is that I have not had a boring day. Every day I am energised by start-ups and their ideas to solve a pain point through the clever application of technology. Today, it can be a medtech that can diagnose infections faster and tomorrow, it can be a fintech to serve the unbanked majority.

As for the culture, I can only speak for Genesis and the co-investors we partner with. We are family-oriented and collaborative – we constantly share deals with each other. This is an industry built on trust and if you want to go far, you have to build meaningful and positive relationships.

G: What do you look for when you hire?

J: Typically, venture capitalists hire MBAs, serial entrepreneurs, or people with corporate finance backgrounds. At Genesis, we believe in someone who wants to make a difference:

We look for an intellectually curious mind: someone who is not afraid to ask, “why not?”.

Someone who reads extensively to feed that curiosity.

Someone who challenges himself/herself to be in the shoes of the consumer or enterprise who would buy that product or service. This is the hardest skill to learn, as compared to getting a certificate in financial or technology. But it can be learnt.

G: Any pre-requisite technical skills?

J: You would need to have either a technical (engineering) or financial background to begin with. At Genesis, we will train you up and provide you with exposure to:

  • deal origination – networking in the startup ecosystem to get access to the best deals to invest capital
  • financial modeling with Microsoft Excel and analysing financial statements
  • Able to communicate confidently as you will have to present the investment opportunity to the leadership team and investment committee.

G: What advice do you have for undergraduates or fresh graduates who aspire to a career in venture capital?

J: One of the best ways is to serve an internship that is at least 6 months long with a venture fund or financial institution. Why six months? This is the minimum period you will need to gain valuable experience in how a deal flows from origination to execution. Not just one deal, but at least two or three different types of deals in different industries.

At Genesis, our internship program puts the interns through the same pace and vigour as though you are a full-time analyst in the firm. You will meet incredible founders and amazing venture capitalists. You will also work with a team that is fun and diligently trying to find that next Unicorn. We believe investing time to train up the next generation of venture investing talent will eventually have a positive impact for the Southeast Asia startup scene.

Our internship programme runs year-around so do drop your application at contact@genesisventures.co. We will contact you once a position becomes available.


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Ben J Benjamin answers some frequently asked questions about venture debt.

1. Who is venture debt for?

Venture debt is ideal for early stage venture-backed companies that are growing rapidly and that need working capital to fund further expansion, undertake new projects, or acquisition. The key benefit is that founders (and other early investors) do not have to give up as much of their ownership in a funding round.

My colleague, Eddy Ng, shares how to structure your debt for success here: Deal Structure for Venture Debt Success

2. What about interest rates?

In terms of payment, founders must consider the following two components:

  • Interest: usually a flat rate of about five to eight per cent
  • Warrants: comprises about 15 to 25 percent of the loan quantum.

3. What are the typical payment terms?

The loan usually has to be repaid within 36 months, fully amortised. The warrant is separate from the loan. Depending on the company’s lifecycle or nature of business, the warrant period can be anywhere between five to 10 years. The venture lender would be free to exercise the warrant during this period.

4. Can I buy back my warrants?

In most cases, the buyers of warrants are usually the founders and/or their existing investors. While the stakes are not huge – warrants generally represent a maximum of two percent of the company – it is a good opportunity for such parties to increase their stakes before a liquidity event (such as an M&A, IPO, or trade sale, for example).

5. My start-up is constantly approached by venture funds. Why should I consider venture debt, even though the interest rate is not much higher than banks?

When raising funds, the key issue that entrepreneurs and investors alike face is dilution.

Just imagine if you could raise 20 to 30 percent of the entire series in less dilutive debt. (There is minimal dilution as the warrants may be exercised at some future date when the company is successful, as pointed out above in #4.)

Instead of taking that 20 to 30 percent dilution at the early stages of the company’s growth, it makes sense to use venture debt to minimise dilution, especially if you have the conviction that the business will increase in value over the long term.

6. As an entrepreneur, I can go to my existing equity investors and raise the convertible notes. Why should I consider venture debt?

Many founders ask this question. A convertible note is generally converted into equity when the business performs well. So, it is not less dilution – it is just delayed dilution. And that dilution is 1:1; in the final analysis, it feels like full equity dilution.

7. Venture debt funds add little value to entrepreneurs.

There is a misconception that venture debt funds exit from the start-ups as soon as the loan is repaid. However, the reality is that venture debt funds do have skin in the game. As warrant holders, we are very much interested in the long-term success of the company. In fact, several of our portfolio companies have returned to us for additional debt because they enjoy the benefits of our experience and value-add.

8. I like the idea of minimizing dilution. Can I use 100% debt to fund my business growth?

As with any company, a balanced capital approach is important when building your books. Just as we would say there is a space for debt on the balance sheet for early, high-growth tech companies, it would be unrealistic to suggest that debt should take up the lion’s share in the growth journey.

Venture debt is just one of the many options available for businesses. There are many tools for fund-raising, so pick the most appropriate one in the context of your existing capital structure, shareholding, and business plans.

9. When is the right time for start-ups to use venture debt?

Timing is everything. A company that is too young (with poor cashflows, or without a strong balance sheet) will find it difficult to raise venture debt. A company that already has a capitalisation table with good investors onboard, and has either a strong balance sheet or strong cashflows, will find it easier to raise venture debt from a well-known lender.

It is also worth considering raising venture debt in conjunction with an equity raise. This allows the company to access additional cash to extend the runway to help achieve a larger milestone and a higher valuation at the next round of financing.

10. Any advice for founders when approaching venture debt providers?

We appreciate founders who are honest and forthright from the start. The journey to build a successful business will take three-, five-, or 10-years, so mutual trust is very important.

So, start a conversation with a venture debt provider, even before you need to raise debt. Take time to understand how venture debt works, and the key terms that come with it. Help us understand your industry, business model, and plans. This will accelerate the process when you are ready for venture debt.

Finally, choose your venture debt partner with care. Many founders focus their venture debt conversations on price and loan quantum. They should also consider choosing a venture lender who can be a long-term funding partner, and ask important questions such as, “Am I dealing with a venture lender who understands how a start-up grows and can the lender add value?”, “What is their track record of working with companies that hit hard times?”, and “Will they take a long-term perspective?”.

If you have any additional questions, please do reach out to Ben.


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Martin Tang is the reading champion in Genesis – he is an avid reader and believes that reading of the experiences of people that have gone before is one of the best ways to learn.

If you aspire to a career in financial services, especially in the venture capital space, Martin recommends the following books to help you hit the ground running.

 

  1. The King of Capital: The remarkable rise, fall and rise again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone by David Carey and John E. Morris

Blackstone is one of the world’s largest asset managers. Like everyone else, their founders struggled initially. What is interesting is how they transformed themselves into disciplined investors and challenged the financial establishment. I enjoyed the deep dive into some of their signature deals.

 

  1. What it takes: Lessons in the pursuit of excellence by Steve Schwarzman (co-founder of Blackstone)

As you can tell, I am a big fan of Blackstone! Steve Schwarzman is the grand daddy of the investment industry. He took US$400,000 and co-founded Blackstone – a firm which manages US$684 billion (as of Q2 2021). He generously shares his expertise and insights on what it takes to achieve excellence. I am always re-reading this book because I find new wisdom every time.

 

  1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

This is an excellent book – backed by tons of deep data and research and is well-written. It is full of insights about why some companies go from good to great, while others fail for the same reasons. What intrigued me is the “curse of competence” that hinders companies from achieving greatness. I will not spoil it for you; read the book and find out!

 

  1. Laughing at Wall Street: How I beat the pros at investing (by reading tabloids, shopping at the mall and connecting on Facebook) by Chris Camillo

Investment success is not mystical. It comes from being very observant of your surroundings and identifying trends. This book is full of engaging anecdotes and common-sense explanations.

 

  1. David & Goliath: Underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a classic Malcom Gladwell book where he sheds light on how we think about disadvantages and obstacles. We all know the story of how a shepherd boy, David, felled the mighty Goliath with a sling and a stone. The author challenges us to re-think about the “Goliaths” in our lives and what successes can arise out of adversity.

 

  1. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Another classic by Malcom Gladwell. Backed by data, he traces the reasons for the success of some overachievers. What do Bill Gates and top football professionals have in common? Are they really that much more different from us normal folks? This book changed the way I looked at success.

We hope this list will help you become a more successful version of yourself.


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Over the past two years, we have seen how the global pandemic adversely affected companies across a wide range of sectors from the implementation of lockdowns and travel restrictions, to an increase in the visibility and transparency of supply chains. Despite being a difficult year for numerous businesses, many startups, especially in the Southeast Asia region have powered through.

While the global pandemic will eventually recede, the impact of business decisions made during these pressing times will go a long way. Startups that raise capital and have a spare dime for rainy days like these will have an edge.

Cash Burn J-Curve

One of the most persistent challenges for startups is to sufficiently capitalize the business from the inception of the company until profitability. US startups have had the good fortune of leveraging on venture debt for several decades. Despite a very challenging Covid year in 2020, startups in the US received debt financing valued at more than $25 billion[1], the third consecutive year for the market to surpass $20 billion in venture loans.

Most startups traditionally utilize equity as their source of capital and go on to raise billions of dollars to fund the J-curve growth of their business. The J-curve is commonly used to illustrate the tendency of a startup company to produce negative net income initially, and then deliver accelerated positive results as the company matures. The negative net income area above the “J” represents the total cash needed to achieve profitability and the typical startup company will take at least six years before becoming profitable.

 

Fig. 1 – J Curve

Source: https://pitchbook.com/news/reports/q1-2021-pitchbook-analyst-note-venture-debt-a-maturing-market-in-vc

Blend of Venture Equity and Debt Capital Markets

As venture debt has emerged in Southeast Asia, an increasing number of companies have deployed debt financing to complement equity rounds. To date, there are about 80 – 100 Southeast Asia companies that have already benefited from venture debt.

Genesis Alternative Ventures is a Singapore-based venture debt fund that invests debt capital into promising early-growth startups that are expanding their business presence across Southeast Asia. We will feature 2 Genesis portfolio companies – Horangi Cyber Security and GoWork and share their venture debt journeys.

Example 1. Horangi

Founded in 2016, Horangi is a cybersecurity company that provides security support for enterprises in Asia against cyberattacks through its suite of products and professional advisory services.

Venture debt became a useful, less-dilutive tool for Horangi as it enhanced its cloud security products, increased its talent pool and acquired customers through sales and marketing activities as part of their growth and expansion plans. “As a startup with a short operating history, it is almost impossible to get normal bank loans, which is where venture debt fills in the gap.” Horangi was also looking for partners who could add substantial value to their business and “partnering with strategic investors like Genesis will help propel our next growth stage,” said Paul Hadjy, CEO and Co-founder, Horangi.

“As Horangi scales its business, choosing a venture lender who is committed and understands the business is critical. It’s not only about access to capital, but also the flexibility and the invaluable network that Genesis brings along.” – Dr. Jeremy Loh, Managing Partner of Genesis Alternative Ventures.

Example 2: GoWork

Founded in 2016, GoWork is a leading premier co-working space operator in Indonesia.

“Co-working is not a category anymore, it’s just how people work. It’s a matter of time when every office building or mall in Jakarta will need a space.” For GoWork to double down on its focus on Jarkarta and reach over 100,000 sqm by 2020, the company took on venture debt to fund its working capital. “We wanted to have diversification in our capital structure without incurring dilution,” said Vanessa Hendriadi, CEO & Co-founder, GoWork.

Not only does venture debt help with working capital needs, but entrepreneurs are also seeking “more efficient capital and putting in place additional capital buffers”. – Martin Tang, Co-founder of Genesis Alternative Ventures.

Venture Debt Moving Forward

Venture debt offers an additional channel of financing for entrepreneurs who want to leverage debt financing to balance the cost of capital. Venture debt is set to play a bigger role as more startups are growing amid a global pandemic and are looking for ways to raise additional capital without significant dilution to their equity stakes.

To find out more about venture debt, access the Southeast Asia Venture Debt Industry Report 2021 co-authored by Genesis Alternative Ventures and PwC Singapore here.

[1] https://pitchbook.com/news/reports/q1-2021-pitchbook-analyst-note-venture-debt-a-maturing-market-in-vc


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Founded in 2015, Deliveree is a full service on-demand ground logistics marketplace platform powered by sophisticated mobile and web app technology that allows businesses to book and manage ground transportation of goods, cargo and merchandise. At the moment, Deliveree has about 90,000 active drivers.

Recent News: Deliveree Logistics has raised a total of $38.8M in funding from 7 investors, including Genesis Alternative Ventures.

Deliveree also aims to generate better income through its Driver Partner Benefits Program by lowering the costs of maintaining their vehicles which supports United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (Decent Work & Economic Growth, Goal 8). Employee data suggests that active drivers have seen a good improvement in earnings and corresponding standard of living.

“Deliveree is helping me save to start a family.” – Ari Susiyanto, Deliveree Driver Partner “Deliveree has more than doubled my earnings. Now I can make more choices.” – Tarsan, Deliveree Driver Partner “I struggle less with money each month since working with Deliveree.” – Pattana Juntakarn, Deliveree Driver Partner
Income Improvement 207% Income Improvement 261% Income Improvement 168%
Greater Jakarta, Indonesia Greater Jakarta, Indonesia Ladprao, Bangkok, Thailand

“Venture debt is a great financing option. It blends perfectly with the equity round and can help maximize a company’s valuation,” said Gagan Singh, Chief Financial Officer, Deliveree.

“We have a great working relationship with Deliveree and we are impressed with their commitment to improving the lives of their driver partners. Genesis will continue to support companies with impact objectives that are looking to scale Southeast Asia.” – Eddy Ng, Head of Investments & Portfolio of Genesis Alternative Ventures.


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Founded in 2016, Flow is a credit management company that is transforming the business of unsecured consumer finance through AI technologies and ethical practices in Asia. Flow is constantly looking out for opportunities to promote responsible collection and financial inclusion to empower consumers in underserved economies.

Recent news: Earlier this year in March, Flow became a member of Asosiasi FinTech Pendanaan Bersama Indonesia (AFPI). With this alliance, Flow will be in a stronger position to transform the credit ecosystem in Indonesia through literacy movements and ethical collection.

Flow supports United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure, Goal 9). In the last year alone, Flow has created 362 full time and part time jobs per portfolio company. From which, 50% of these job positions are filled by women. Flow has also helped more than 150,000 borrowers.

According to Flow, the problem of debt bondage can become a time bomb, especially during a pandemic. To combat this, Flow recently organised a Financial Literacy Webinar titled “Financial Literacy & The Responsibility of Financial Institutions” to provide financial literacy education for the wider community in Indonesia.

On top of that, Flow will be launching a new function, FlowCares. Through FlowCares, borrowers will be able to access a self-service portal powered by AI which allows the borrower to bypass uncomfortable conversations with another human being on the subject of loan repayments.

“We have evaluated the Fintech value chain and were very impressed with Flow’s commitment to transform the decades-old debt collection business using AI and ethical practices. Genesis is a returns-first, scaled impact venture lender who wants to back growth-stage companies with impact objectives such as financial inclusion, sustainable food production, small business digitisation and gender diversity, that are looking to scale across Southeast Asia.” – Dr. Jeremy Loh, Managing Partner of Genesis Alternative Ventures.

“This funding from Genesis is another major milestone for Flow and for our debt portfolio purchase business in particular. In keeping with our mission, we can reach out to further support consumers in overcoming financial difficulties,” said Tomasz, CEO & Co-founder, Flow.

Catch Arun Pai, Chief Sales and Strategy Officer from Flow at the Genesis Forum where he and other industry leaders discuss “Accelerating Financial Inclusion Across Southeast Asia Through Fintech”.