Malaysia’s 1337 Ventures announced today it invested in three Philippine startups from its pre-accelerator program Alpha Startups, which recently launched in Cebu province.
The teams include Pas Pas, a last-mile, SMS-based delivery service; Fresk2Ket, a marketplace that connects farmers with restaurants and other businesses; and iMpok, a cash deposit microfinancing platform for schools.
Each received a “micro fund” worth US$1,000 and US$5,000 worth of Amazon Web Services credit.
Yet at this point, it’s not about the money but the connections and mentorship these startups will receive from 1337 Ventures, says the VC firm’s CEO Bikesh Lakhmichand.
“Each team will clock in hours of mentorship with their assigned mentor for the next three months. We will then help them raise a round of investment or invest in them with our regular pre-seed amounts,” Bikesh tells us.
If in those three months the teams get their minimum viable products off the ground and see some traction, then 1337 Ventures will likely inject another PHP 500,000 (US$10,600) into each of them, Bikesh adds.
The startups were chosen out of 11 teams that were selected to pitch at Alpha Startups’ demo day. The program saw close to 100 applicants, of which 28 teams were selected for a five-day intensive bootcamp.
“They were the winners because they could prove that the problem was real and their solution was what customers wanted. They also showed us that they had the right skill sets to execute. For example, Pas Pas was a team with logistics background,” explains Bikesh.
1337 Ventures has introduced Alpha Startups in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines (Cebu), while doing lighter fintech initiatives in Indonesia and Thailand. The VC firm will next introduce Alpha Startups in Indonesia by January 2016, before potentially bringing it to Thailand and Vietnam.
While growing presence in capital cities, the second phase of expansion will be into satellite cities within the countries that have a larger population. In the Philippines, 1337 Ventures is looking at Davao and possibly other areas in the southern island of Mindanao, while Bandung could be an area of focus in Indonesia.
“We have been expanding into countries where 1337 Ventures’ sister company iTrain has presence in. iTrain goes in and introduces technical training content via our training and university partners. 1337 Ventures follows in closely after to develop the entrepreneurial talent,” says Bikesh.
The VC’s growing network bodes well for participants because it allows them to find partners and scale efficiently in the region.
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