Investors form Fintech Angel Operators, a boon to early stage startups

  • Leading fintechs form investment network to bring expertise to startups
  • Each angel investor brings specific skillset to the table

Investors form Fintech Angel Operators, a boon to early stage startupsSENIOR executives from the largest fintechs in Southeast Asia have banded together to launch Fintech Angel Operators (FAO), a network of up to 100 angel investors bringing their on-the-ground expertise to early-stage startups.

The FAO network includes individuals who hold senior appointments at fintechs including Grab Financial, PayPal, Stripe, Revolut and Remitly, it said in a statement.

Members of the FAO network are investors with fintech operational expertise in Southeast Asia who are looking to invest angel-sized cheques into startups. The group operates with a cohort-based syndicate structure and will include up to 100 fintech founders, executives and operators in its first batch, it added.
 
“Smart founders know that cherry-picking the right investors will set them up with an unfair advantage in the long run,” said Chia Jeng Yang, principal at Saison Capital and co-founder of FAO.

“The FAO is a rolodex to give them just that. Every individual in our network has proven operational expertise with top-tier fintechs in the region.”
 
FAO said capital from the network will be deployed collectively by investors interested in the deal via a standard angel investment structure. This could include an SPV (special purpose vehicle) entity or Angellist.
 
For startups operating in specific fintech verticals such as lending, remittance or payments, the network will bring access to capital from a curated group of operators from top fintechs in the region, it said.

Investors in the network are selected via an internal skills matrix to ensure that each specific skill set required to run a fintech - such as hiring, building a technical stack or fundraising, FAO said.
 
It said the network is evaluating a number of deals and intends to close its first investments by the thrid quarter of 2021. The pitch and raise process first involves a call with the fintech’s founder and the network.

This allows startups to connect with a group of relevant fintech angels while investors are able to bounce off each others’ insights and perform due diligence in real-time, it added.
 
“Having launched Finantier, I understand how critical it is to bring onboard investors who have actual operational expertise,” said Keng Low, co-founder of Finantier and co-founder of FAO.

“Whether you’re facing issues with developing your business model, how to approach and work with regulators or facing specific hurdles - you’ll want someone in your corner who can give strategic advice and solutions from real experience on what works in Southeast Asia.”

Meanwhile, Stripe startup ecosystem lead Sagar Gupta said the venture capital ecosystem in Southeast Asia has developed at a rapid pace over the years.

“Yet, it's rare to have a collection of angels that focus on operational value-add within a particular industry vertical. I'm excited to see the impact of the FAO in the region to build a globally impactful ecosystem,” he said.

The FAO are supported by a partnership with Saison Capital and its Scouts Programme to identify and foster the next generation of investors from Southeast Asia.

Saison Capital is credited as an early LP in venture funds like Beenext, Gree Ventures, Antler, Better Tomorrow Ventures.

 

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