September 5, 2022 by Garage – Business Times

TOUGH market conditions are creating a spike in demand for venture debt among startups. A tighter funding environment along with unfavorable exit conditions in public markets have led to more venture debt requests, even more so than at the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Venture debt provider Genesis Alternative Ventures has been tracking quarter-on-quarter growth in venture debt requests and is seeing an average of between US$80 million and US$100 million of requests per quarter currently.

Traction among investors for venture debt appears to be growing, as Genesis Alternative Ventures is now raising its second fund, with a target of US$150 million. Half of the funding target has been committed, with 80 per cent of the investors following on from the first fund.

Read the full Business Times article here.


  • Strong investor support with almost half the Fund committed at first close.
  • 80% of first close commitments from existing investors such as Sassoon Investment Corp, Aozora Bank, Korea Development Bank, Mizuho Leasing, Silverhorn; notable new investment from Israel’s OurCrowd.
  • Genesis’ US$90m Fund I launched in 2019 financed 25 companies across Southeast Asia including unicorns Matterport & Akulaku.

Singapore, 25 August 2022 – Following the success of its debut US$90 million fund in 2019, Genesis Alternative Ventures has launched its second venture debt fund to raise US$150 million to finance start-ups across Southeast Asia. Almost half the fund  was raised at first close earlier this month.  

In a strong show of support, 80% of Fund II’s first close commitments came  from existing Genesis’ Limited Partners (LPs) such as Sassoon Investment Corp,  Aozora Bank, Korea Development Bank, Mizuho Leasing, Silverhorn, family offices, charitable trusts, fund of funds and corporate investors. Among new investors is OurCrowd, the Israel-based online global venture investing platform.  

Dr Jeremy Loh, Genesis’ Co-Founder and Managing Partner, said: “We are grateful to our investors for their continued support.

Genesis Fund II further strengthens our ability to provide financing for promising start-ups that are catalysts for economic growth in the region.” 

Genesis extends debt to revenue-generating, high-growth companies that are backed by venture capital funds. These start-ups typically do not qualify for regular bank loans because they lack collateral, or have not yet reached profitability, and/or their founders are wary of taking on too much venture capital for fear of diluting their ownership. 

The venture debt firm founded by Ben J Benjamin, Dr Jeremy Loh and Martin Tang in 2019, will continue to focus on Southeast Asia’s early and mid-stage high growth technology start-ups (Series B to pre-IPO). Dr Loh said Fund II already has a US$60 million deal pipeline in place. 

He added: “Southeast Asia remains a magnet for investors attracted by the region’s growth potential, talent availability, high population and reasonable labour costs. In particular, Singapore has strengthened its position as a hub for innovative start-ups in the region. 

“While the pace of investing may have slowed due to economic headwinds, interest in Southeast Asia technology companies remains strong. Given the record amount raised by venture capital funds in the last year, there’s a lot of dry powder for start-ups with strong fundamentals.  

“Genesis will continue to finance first-class entrepreneurs who are building high-growth companies built on sustainable business models.” 

Impact & ESG forms backbone of Fund I portfolio

Genesis Fund I raised an oversubscribed US$90 million and has financed 25 companies from Series A to pre-IPO in sectors such as logistics-tech, fintech, agritech, cybersecurity, and food-tech operating in Southeast Asia. It counts two unicorns among its portfolio companies namely Matterport, a leading global spatial data platform company, and Akulaku, a banking and digital finance platform in Southeast  Asia. 

Genesis selectively finances companies with meaningful impact objectives and works closely with entrepreneurs to identify and introduce important ESG principles within portfolio companies. Genesis has channelled nearly half of its capital from its debut fund into start-ups with meaningful impact objectives that are aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Close to 80% of its portfolio companies have in place formal ESG policies and procedures. 

In a joint report last year, Genesis and PwC Singapore noted that venture debt is fast emerging in Southeast Asia as an alternative and complementary source of  financing for high-growth tech companies that traditionally only raised equity as a source of capital. The report was presented at last year’s Genesis Forum featuring Tan Sri Mohamed Nazir bin Abdul Razak, past Chairman, CIMB Group, who delivered  the keynote address “Profit with purpose, my personal journey to here.” 

Victor Sassoon, Chairman, Sassoon Investment Corporation: “We are delighted to continue backing the Genesis team in their mission to provide less-dilutive funding to entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia. We are firm believers that venture debt will play an important role for start-up founders who are confident of their business growth and recognise the long-term value in complementary financing for working capital and other needs.”

Shin Kato, Head of Asia Investment Group, Aozora Bank: “The Southeast Asian and the Japanese venture ecosystems have long been underserved by credit providers. Genesis and Aozora Bank are both tackling this issue in their respective markets, and we are happy to continue our strategic partnership with Genesis to provide non-dilutive capital to innovative and impactful companies through their second fund while exchanging know-how and market insights on Japan and Southeast  Asia.” 

Jon Medved, CEO, OurCrowd: “We are delighted to be investors in Genesis Fund II. This fund has a tremendous management team whom we have known for  years, leading co-investors, superb performance to date, and a brilliant future in bringing the important asset class of venture debt to the fast-growing Southeast Asia market. When we add the power of our global OurCrowd community to Genesis’ already great story, we are confident that this is about to get only better.” 

About Genesis Alternative Ventures 

Genesis Alternative Ventures is Southeast Asia’s leading private lender to venture and growth stage companies funded by tier-one VCs. Genesis is founded by a team of venture lending pioneers who have backed some of Southeast Asia’s best loved companies. Armed with a strong reputation among entrepreneurs and investors, Genesis is a trusted partner in empowering corporate growth while minimising  shareholders’ equity dilution. Genesis was founded by Ben J Benjamin, Dr Jeremy  Loh and Martin Tang in 2019.


For media queries, please contact: 

Catherine Ong Associates

Catherine Ong

Mobile: (65) 9697 0007


Joel Ng

Mobile: (65) 9873 5728




We get it. Running a startup is a crazy roller coaster ride. That is why it is important to find and bring the right VC partners on board with you.  You will probably meet many before deciding on a core team. And it all starts with a convincing pitch that is engaging, clear and concise.

When I googled “how to pitch my startup”, I got more than 42 million hits. I am sure most of the advice offered is sound, if a little generic.

Having worked in the startup ecosystem in both Silicon Valley and Southeast Asia, I have noticed that there is a difference in the way founders here approach their pitch. I have noticed that Southeast Asian entrepreneurs tend to be more conservative in their pitch approach and more reluctant to talk about their achievements (and I include myself in this category). There are many cultural reasons for this but such reticence does not serve startup founders well, especially when making their pitches. 

Over the years, my team at Genesis and I have attended multiple startup pitch sessions and have given my share of feedback and useful tips to help founders in Southeast Asia sharpen their pitch.  Here’s a quick summary of those feedback:


  • Be clear about your ask

It is perfectly fine to be upfront about what you are looking for – be it mentorship advice or an investment. Many founders feel shy about talking about money so early in a discussion but trust me, it is helpful for the VC to know your objective from the start.

For instance, if you are looking for funding, you can start by saying,  “Thank you for your time today. I am looking for $6m funding for a 10% share of my agri-tech company.” 

Or, if you are looking for strategic partnerships, “Thank you for your time today. I am looking for partners in the agri-tech and/or logistics space who can add value to my business.” It is also reasonable to seek introductions to business contacts or possible advisors. 


  • Be proud of your mission and credentials

Once I sat in on a pitch from an edutech company and it was only after 5 or 6 slides that she revealed that she is a geneticist. Immediately that became interesting to me. What is the connection between genetics and education? 

Most founders tend to have business, finance or engineering backgrounds. So when someone with academic achievements and industry experience turns up to share why they are on this mission, it certainly catches the attention of an investor. 

Likewise, for your mission. Whether you are solving a payment problem or moving 1 ton of ugly food per day, if you are not excited about your mission, no one else will be.

So do speak with positive energy and conviction. I know this is not natural for many of us in Southeast Asia but it is important to “infect” the VC with your enthusiasm. 


  • Be humble when receiving feedback 

This sounds contradictory to #2 but it makes sense. The VC industry is a small one, particularly in our region. One of the first questions that VCs ask themselves is “can I work with this entrepreneur over the next 3-4 years and help build this business?” 

“VCs invest in people, not ideas or technology.” Most investors are placing a bet on the founder’s ability to successfully handle the multiple challenges of growing a startup. And founders who are unable to handle a couple of tough questions in a pitch are less likely to raise money from investors.

So treat the feedback as a gift. An hour that a VC set aside to listen to your pitch may not end up in an investment. But the feedback could bring fresh perspectives, new ideas and insights for your business or even how to improve your pitch.


  • Be concise with your elevator speech

It is always good to be prepared to talk about your startup concisely. You’ll never know when you’ll meet a potential investor. 

We suggest an elevator speech along these lines:

  • Think BIG: What is the end goal (e.g. save 10 tons of ugly food per day)?
  • Start SMALL: What are the low hanging fruits that you are plucking today?
  • Move FAST: How are you going to scale? 

Starting with your Big Idea allows you to plant a seed into the investor’s mind. And if you get interrupted and don’t get to the other two parts of your elevator speech, at least you’ve communicated your mission. This leads me to the final point.


  • Be jargon free 

Most VCs are finance- or economics-trained. A few of us are engineers by training. Even fewer of us were medical professionals. 

While we may have picked up terms like “NFT”, “Metaverse” or “DAO”, it helps if you use layman terms in your pitch. Try pitching to your family or friends first; if they can understand what your business is about, the likelihood of an investor understanding it would be higher.

For an idea of a jargon-free pitch deck, do take a look at AirBnB’s early pitch deck.


Last but not least ….

The tech and venture market will have its up and down cycles. Whatever the climate, there will always be venture investors looking for the next unicorn or decacorn. When you get an hour of time with a VC or a partner,  it is more important to be ready with your pitch. And be prepared to evolve that pitch deck. You will be fascinated when you see the 40th version compared to your first deck.

We wish you much success and hope that these tips are useful in helping you elevate your pitch and raising the next round of funds.

(A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn on 21 July 2022.)


It has been an incredibly busy two months for us at Genesis Alternative Ventures, the current market volatility notwithstanding. 

In April and May, we took advantage of the reopening of global borders to visit our investors, partners, and portfolio companies in Tokyo, Seoul, and Indonesia. In May, we hosted our General Partners Advisory Board and Limited Partners to share the progress of the Fund and to  discuss the macro-economic investment outlook. It was refreshing to catch up with everyone face-to-face and to reaffirm the trust that we built via two years of virtual meetings.

All the discussions I had were enlightening, insightful and relevant in the current market uncertainties and I thank everyone for sharing your thoughts and time so generously. As one good deed deserves another, I thought it would be useful to sum up and share my takeaways that might help guide us through these turbulent times: 

  1. Growth of venture debt : Amid rising interest rates and increased market volatility, private debt tends to shine and venture debt providers across Southeast Asia, India and the US are reporting a surge in deals and a growing pipeline. 
  2. Cash is King: With tighter funding market environment and falling valuations, startups should look for opportunities to consolidate and acquire good assets to strengthen their position while cutting back on cash burn to focus on profitability and preserve cash runway 
  3. Keep Calm and Carry On: Venture investors have indicated continued support for existing companies and will allocate more capital to their portfolio, instead of hunting for new ones. However, with freshly minted Southeast Asia venture equity funds like Jungle Ventures Fund IV ($600m), East Ventures multistage $550m venture and growth fund, Mass Mutual Ventures Fund II ($300m), there is still ample liquidity for early-stage companies seeking entry ticket funding. However, founders are advised to sharpen their pencils as the days of funding back-of-envelope ideas are gone. 
  4. There ARE Alternatives to TINA (There Is No Alternative): Navigating a challenging environment, sophisticated investors are pivoting from traditional portfolios that were based on a mix of public equities and fixed income. Increasingly they are looking for an alternative bucket of private equity, venture debt, and real estate where opportunities for better yields than liquid assets, with lower volatility and less correlation to headline risk. 

Next month, we hope to share some insights on Founders’ sentiments from a survey of the entrepreneur community. I thank you in advance to all those who have kindly agreed to be surveyed and share your thoughts with us.  

Disclaimer: The content in this article is meant to be informative and for general purposes only. It is not and shall not be construed as investment advice. 

(A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn on 3 June 2022.)


Words cannot express how delighted we were to meet our investors, partners, and portfolio companies at Genesis’ first-ever, physical event.

Held on 12 May 2022 in the charming Grace Hall of the Jacob Ballas Centre, we welcomed our guests, some of whom have travelled from Korea, Japan, and USA to join us. We are also grateful to those who joined us via Zoom from Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, UK and USA.

In addition to sharing the progress of our Fund, our guests were treated to a packed agenda full of insights:

  • AI driven consumer research and analytics by Stephen Tracey, COO, Milieu Insight (portfolio company)
  • Advanced 3D technology for the fashion e-commerce industry by  Harindar Keer, Flixstock  (portfolio company)
  • South-east Asia investment landscape by Jeff Benjamin, CEO, Bank J Safra Sarasin
  • Panel: Due South – Why SEA Continues To Be A Magnet For Investments
    • Tony Huang, Managing Partner, KISO Capital (moderator)
    • Yasuhiko Hashimoto, Managing Executive Officer, Mizuho Leasing
    • Chang Ha Park, Deputy General Manager, Korean Development Bank
    • Kayo Sengoku, Deputy General Manager, Aozora Bank
  • Perspectives of Asia and US Venture Debt by Tony Huang, Managing Partner, KISO Capital, K2 Venture Finance

The afternoon ended a guided wine and cheese tasting session led by master wine-maker, Eddie Gandler and a tour of the Jews of Singapore museum.

We would not have made it this far in our venture debt journey without the support, encouragement, and belief of our stakeholders. Thank you and see you in 2023!

Special thanks also to Teabox for their exclusive selection of Darjeeling teas for all our guests to enjoy.

Relive the afternoon’s highlights with the recap video


What a difference these past two years have made!

Whenever I was invited to speak about venture debt in the past, I always start by explaining to the audience that venture debt is a form of business financing that is tailored for venture-backed, high-growth startups who do not have the collaterals nor track record generally required by traditional banks. When used appropriately, venture debt is an attractive form of growth funding because it minimizes dilution of a founder’s (& early investors’) ownership stake.

Fast forward to February 2022 where I addressed a virtual room of startup entrepreneurs from SEA Founders – a community of growth-stage founders in Southeast Asia. I was very heartened by the sophisticated level of understanding about financing tools to power startup growth. Comparing this to when I first started out in venture debt in 2015, these founders have certainly become more acquainted with its use case.

However, I thought it would be useful to clarify some terminology and practices. This will be a handy guide for founders when talking to venture lenders as part of their next fund raise:

Convertible debt is not venture debt.

Venture debt is a bit like a mortgage loan. If we want to buy a house, the bank will provide us with a mortgage loan that we progressively pay down. Before we accept the loan, we would do our maths, asking ourselves, “how much do we have to pay on a monthly basis for this home loan? What are we comfortable with?” Once we decide, we don’t think about it much until the home bank loan is fully repaid. Once fully repaid, the house is ours.

On the other hand, convertible debt is where we borrow money to buy a house, but the lender has the option to decide if he wants the loan repaid in cash or take a portion of the house in return. Here the borrower has to deal with the uncertainty of whether a part of the house may eventually belong to someone else. Hence, a convertible debt is not venture debt.

Shares are not given free to lenders via warrants.

Due to the risk profile of a startup company, venture lenders will ask for warrants, which is an option to buy some shares in the company in the future at an agreed price. I think it’s important to understand that you’re not giving the equity warrants to the lender for free. The lender actually needs to pay and convert the option into shares of the company at a cost.

The way we describe it at Genesis is that we are investing debt into the portfolio company while simultaneously playing the role of small-time equity investor. Because we believe in your company, we’re willing to provide debt financing to grow the company. And because we have done our homework as an investor, we would love to be able to put some equity to play too.

Covenants can be used for instilling financial discipline

Many founders’ initial reaction to covenants is generally negative. However, I believe if designed reasonably, it can bring financial discipline and performance milestones for startups.

Early-stage start-ups tend to have big dreams. Founders would say to me “I am aiming for five million revenue this year and twenty million next year. Based on P&L. I think I am comfortable with a debt to equity ratio of forty percent, so I want to borrow five million dollars in venture debt.” But when we propose business and financial covenants around the loan, founders would come back and revise their projections e.g., “I can’t grow 4x within 12 months.”

A very canny CFO from one of our portfolio companies once shared that taking on venture debt has allowed him to introduce financial discipline within his startup. An example would be working out the mortgage repayment I described earlier and discipline is needed to make repayments on time. Having a venture lender onboard gives him the confidence that he has passed the stringent credit litmus test and he can confidently tell prospective VCs that he has a track record of being financially disciplined. Therefore covenants that are structured reasonably will help companies grow, rather than suffocate. Hence it would be useful to have a candid conversation with your venture debt lender on the purpose of the proposed covenants.

I hope the above “advanced level” clarifications about venture debt is useful for you. For an elementary overview of venture debt, please read this article on the Top 10 Questions Every Founder Asks About Venture Debt.”  If you have any questions on how venture debt can support your startup’s growth, please do not hesitate to contact me.

(A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn on 28 February 2022.)


Partner Martin Tang talks to David Kim, CEO Roundtable Bridging Asia podcast host and seasoned banking professional, about his career journey and the use case of venture debt.

In summary:

    • A venture debt is a loan for start-ups to minimise the dilution of founders and early shareholders’ equity stake.
    • Venture debt has been in Southeast Asia for six years; still relatively young compared to US and Europe.
    • We will stand on the shoulders of these giants and learn how to accelerate development.
    • Venture loans work similarly to mortgage loans in that the principal and interest are repaid in equal measure. Usually there is no collateral as startups usually do not have collateral.
    • Genesis’ investment philosophy focused on Southeast Asia; agnostic of sector but must have impact and ESG components.

Read the full interview in the Korea Economic Daily (Korean) here.

Watch the CEO TV (CEO Roundtable Bridging Asia) podcast (English) here.


19 May 2021/ by CrestBridge

With market awareness of venture debt low, it is private debt’s best kept secret. That hasn’t stopped venture debt from substantially growing its market share of the start-up ecosystem.

Here are 5 reasons why this under-utilised asset class will boom over the next 3 years:

  • It is a growth powerhouse with $47b worth of assets under management in 2021.
  • There are only a few venture debt managers in the market right now.
  • Start-ups like not giving up their equity in return for a cash injection.
  • The returns are high relative to other fixed income investments.
  • The rise of SPACs complements venture debt.

Read the full article here.


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.


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.