Early Booster
    Category: Private Money By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 2045 Date : Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 09:46:11

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    East Ventures Pte Ltd. calls itself the first venture capital firm to invest in Indonesian Internet startups. The company has a highly international pedigree. It was founded by two Japanese and two Indonesians, although one of the Japanese was originally Indonesian (but had a Japanese grandfather) who took Japanese citizenship. The company is based in Singapore but invests its money here.

    Established in 2009, East Ventures's two Japanese partners are Batara Eto, the former Indonesian who became chief technology officer and co-founder of Mixi Inc., the biggest social networking site in Japan. Batara was later joined by Taiga Matsuyama, an experienced Internet investor. The two Indonesians are Chandra Tjan, a former banker at Credit Suisse and Citigroup, and Willson Cuaca, an expert in mobile application development with 14 years experience.

    Their mission? To fund Indonesian Internet companies with seed capital early in their growth when they most need the money and valuations are reasonable. “We saw that Indonesian startups have potential and there were no companies seriously developing Internet startups at that time,” says Willson.

    Using this strategy, they have been able to buy up to 30% of 26 Internet startups for as little as $50,000 to $500,000, which implies that the firm has invested no more than $13 million (the firm declines to discuss its actual total investment). Compare those valuations with those of U.S. startups, where early valuations in the millions are routine. They established the company in Singapore because most of the founders were based there and it was easier to set up a company there, where it has three directors, Batara, Taiga and Willson. The ultimate shareholder is East Capital Growth Ltd., a BVI holding company.

    Aside from its current portfolio, East Ventures plans to add three more firms this year. Its first investments were in Tokopedia, an e-commerce website, followed by Urbanesia, and electronic magazine newsstand Scoop (which was founded by Willson)—those three investments were done in 2010 (Forbes Indonesia is a client of Scoop).

    The firm has already had two successful exits. The first exit was discount site Disdus.com, which discount seller Groupon acquired for an undisclosed amount in April 2011, just several months after East Ventures invested in December 2010. That exit was followed by Urbanesia, an online city directory that was snapped by the Kompas Gramedia group in January 2012 for an undisclosed amount. Of its remaining 24 firms, 18 are still in business and six have gone out of business.