Great Time to Build Tech Businesses in APAC says Singapore's Top Early-Stage VC Fund

Like other markets, capital will become more of a commodity and increasing competition will force investors to lift their game, which I think is a good thing for founders says David Gowdey of Jungle Ventures

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By Aashika Jain


You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The current Managing Partner at Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm focused on internet and technology investments in South Asia, is bullish on the investment ecosystem in Asia Pacific.

Having spent rich 15 years in the ecosystem, David Gowdey has seen a dramatic shift in way businesses are built.

The venture ecosystem has matured a great deal from mid-2015, when I left TPG Capital to join Jungle Ventures. Back then, I was quite concerned about our founders being able to bring on high quality downstream investors, so in our fund 2 we curated a limited partner (LP) base, which was also quite focused on direct investments and as a result more than half of our fund 2 portfolio companies have a Jungle LP on the capital table," Gowdey told Entrepreneur Asia Pacific.

Flash forward to today, Gowdey feels the venture ecosystem is much more developed, but there are still more companies than capital. He is confident like other markets, capital will become more of a commodity and increasing competition will force investors to lift their game, which he feels is a good thing for founders.

Jungle Ventures invests in both B2C (consumer-focused companies) and B2B (companies serving other businesses) companies, which are based in or focused on the SE Asia /ASEAN region.

Gowdey says the VC firm tends to look for founders who have the desire to build a regional business, but are looking for some help in scaling across markets, which is no small feat.

"This region offers no shortage of problems and friction points, like payments, budget accommodation, access to credit etc which can be solved by technology and the nuances of these markets can help create competitive moats against foreign competitors. It is truly an exciting time to be building tech businesses in this part of the world," believes Gowdey.

Prior to Jungle, David spent 3.5 years at TPG Capital where he led internet investments outside of the US within the TPG Growth fund. Gowdey has spent 12 years at Yahoo! Inc where he was the Head of International M&A on the Corporate Development team.

He has also served as a Managing Partner at Xplorer Capital, a growth equity venture capital firm which spun out from Yahoo! to focus on internet and digital media opportunities in the emerging markets.

He continues to be an Advisor to TPG Capital and represents them as a non-executive director on the board of Propertyguru, the largest online real estate platform in SE Asia.

Growth Opportunities

Gowdey thinks the largest opportunity in the region is around the increase in consumer consumption online, including the second derivative beneficiaries of that.

"In SE Asia alone, we have about 280 million millennials and 400 million people under the age of 30, which is an enormous population. Most are relatively new to the internet. Many are mobile-only users. They have slowly been building their trust and confidence online over the last few years, but going forward, they will increasingly direct much of their consumption, be it products, travel, insurance, etc, via digital channels," thinks the Macquarie Management School graduate.

Gowdey is optimistic this growth will transform small/medium sized business and have a positive knock-on impact on many industries, like logistics or consumer credit.

He believes the world is seeing a fraction of this potential today. The updated Google / Temasek report in 2018 projected that eCommerce market in SE Asia would reach $102B by 2025, but he finds that conservative.

Tricks & Tips

Gowdey thinks being an entrepreneur is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet and few people are able to appreciate the perseverance and grit that is required to be successful.

"It is almost never a linear path."

His 3 tips to startups' founders looking for funding from VCs include doing diligence on the VC prior to the meeting, since this could be a relationship that lasts for several years; have a clear understanding of the problem that they're solving and how big that problem is; and have a deep understanding of their core business drivers and the assumptions that they are making about future growth.

He loves being an investor.

"Every day is different because the evolution of every company is different. I find it personally rewarding to help founders realize their vision, but only part of that comes from providing them with capital. More often than not, it's about creating a solid relationship and being there for them through both the highs and the lows. I'm also very lucky to be working with so many great people," says Gowdey.

David Gowdey would be speaking at the launch of Entrepreneur Asia Pacific to be held on March 14. To register, click here.

Aashika Jain

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Associate Editor, Entrepreneur India

Journalist in the making since 2006! My fastest fingers have worked for India's business news channel CNBC-TV18, global news wire Thomson Reuters, the digital arm of India’s biggest newspaper The Economic Times and Entrepreneur India as the Digital Head. 

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