Jakarta, 17 December 2019 — Jakarta-based venture capital firm Alpha JWC Ventures closed its second fund at USD 123 million recently. Launched in 2018, the second fund was closed oversubscribed with investors from Southeast Asia, Korea, China, Japan, and Europe — with most investors of the firm’s first fund rejoining the second one.
Alpha JWC Ventures launched its first fund of USD 50 million back in 2016 and has fully deployed the amount into 23 early-stage companies in Southeast Asia, mostly Indonesia, of which more than 90 percent of the portfolio companies have received follow-on funding. Portfolio companies include the region’s largest peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Societies, Southeast Asia’s largest automotive marketplace Carro, and Indonesia’s largest digital credit card provider Kredivo. In less than four years, the fund has grown to 3.2 times in Net Asset Value (NAV). The fund has also made two successful exits: Spacemob (acquired by WeWork in 2017) and DealStreetAsia (acquired by Nikkei in 2019).
The second fund, which has started deploying in late 2018, has been invested into 14 companies so far, making Alpha JWC one of the most active VCs in the region. To date, the fund’s biggest investment has gone to the much-talked F&B business funding for the grab-and-go coffee chain Kopi Kenangan (USD 8 million in November 2018).
“With the new fund, we can be more active and cover more sectors and regions than before. However, we do notice that the digital economy’s landscape, trend, and behavior have been changing, especially in the past year. Hence, we have to be optimistic, active, yet cautious,” says co-founder & managing partner Chandra Tjan. “Our portfolio companies’ success so far has to be attributed to our team’s close support in the companies’ journey and our focus on their fundamentals. We insist that our founders have a clear understanding of unit economics and maintain their financial accountability from Day 1. We believe such approach is vital to startups’ sustainability in the long run.”
Growing together with the startups
The firm has always prided itself for their hands-on approach when it comes to portfolio management, with more than half of the team working mostly on portfolio value creation from recruitment to marketing. With 33 active portfolio companies and counting, the portfolio companies have become a network of its own.
“We’ve built strong and close working relationships with our Alpha JWC Family. We envision a collaborative and positive ecosystem within our network,” co-founder & managing partner Jefrey Joe explains.
“We also avoid investing in competing companies. Our focused and hands-on approach mean that we have to back the right founders and double-down on supporting them throughout their journey. Having said that, it’s not uncommon for companies to pivot or expand to other verticals as they grow, which sometimes could result in overlapping business or segment with our other portfolio companies’. The competition is not something we could control, but we assure all of our founders that we hold confidentiality and integrity in the highest regard, even within our portfolio network. So far, we don’t see any problem regarding potential conflict of interest.”
Not only have the portfolio companies grown, the Alpha JWC team itself has grown to more than 20 professionals, making them the largest team among Indonesian VCs. The firm also onboarded three partners in 2019: former SEA Group Chief Strategy Officer Alan Hellawell, the firm’s first hire and previously principal Erika Dianasari, and former VP of Investment at Creador Eko Kurniadi. Meanwhile, one of the firm’s founding partner, Will Ongkowidjaja, is pursuing another entrepreneurial journey by building Honestbank, with a vision to be the leading neobank in Southeast Asia to help everyone have access to fair banking including the unbanked. Will is taking a Founding Partner role and shall continue to work together to create value for Alpha JWC family.
After making its mark in Indonesia, Alpha JWC is eyeing the broader region and looking to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia. The firm has set up an office in Singapore for wider regional reach. It is also looking to build a significant presence in Vietnam, even as it continues to focus on its home market.
“We are actively looking at Vietnam whose economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world. We believe that Vietnam is Southeast Asia’s next biggest market and it’s still a green field for both founders and investors. So far, we have 3 investments in Vietnam and several more in our current pipeline,” Chandra adds.