Thailand’s US$9.3mil Iyara VC fund targets developers
By Susan Cunningham May 7, 2015
- Plans to invest in 100 startups within five years
- First US$100K investment in household app Fixzy
FOUR Thai IT veterans have joined to launch the 300-million-baht (US$9.28-million) Iyara Venture Capital fund, which plans to invest in at least 100 Thai startups within the next three to five years.
“We’re open to other investors and are meeting both corporate houses and individuals. If it doesn’t work out, we’re committed to raising it ourselves,” said cofounder Apichai Sakulsureeyadej.
The fund will especially focus on seed and early-stage investments in software ventures that are close to completion or have just launched. Iyara will invest up to three million baht (about US$100,000) in each startup and take a 10% to 25% stake in the new company, Apichai said.
Iyara, which means ‘elephant’ in Sanskrit, has already made its first investment, putting in three million baht in a startup called Fixzy.
The mobile app enables people with household appliance or utility problems to make immediate contact with a repair expert, such as a mechanic, and set up an appointment.
“It’s ‘Uber’ for fixing household stuff,” Apichai said, referring to the premium ride service startup. “They already have an inventory of 15,000 specialists on call.”
The Iyara founders believe their own extensive background in software and varied industry sectors will enable them to choose startups that fulfill needs, and to nurture the entrepreneurs on the way to the marketplace at home and overseas.
“Because of our network, we are able to identify which technology solution can be plugged in through the various parts of the entire ecosystem of each of our domain industries,” Apichai said.
Expertise in banking, hospitality, govt
Apichai (pic), a founder of MSL Software and the Tourism Tech Association, has developed software for banks and government agencies.
Partner Somboon Sukheviriya is founder of Comanche International, which created a suite of software now used by five-star hotels all over the world.
Chatchai Tolertmongkol, head of business development at Synature, has developed point-of-sale software for food and beverage outlets.
Finally, Wissananpong Wongwas is chief executive officer of AdaSoft, which provides point-of-sale solutions to thousands of retail stores and high-end brands.
“We understand the supply chain. We will already be thinking of where the software will work and how to shape it. We’ve all been invited to be judges. We have been coaches and mentors,” said Apichai.
“Not everyone is good with making pitches or the legal stuff. We can help with that and to raise more money for later stages.
“There are a number of software developers with ongoing R&D (research and development) activities but they do not have access to capital, market information, nor [do they have] experience in operations. Iyara can fill these gaps for them,” he added.
Apichai said that in the past, Thai startups were heavily into gamification. “But now you will see there’s a lot more travel, logistics, e-commerce and all sorts of apps.”
Susan Cunningham is a veteran US journalist based in Thailand. Her work has appeared in Forbes Asia, Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal Asia and Los Angeles Review of Books.
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