Wavemaker Partners closes fourth fund above goal at US$136 million

The new fund is the largest one focused on early-stage enterprise, deep tech, and sustainability startups in Southeast Asia

Wavemaker Partners announced that it just closed its fourth fund at US$136 million, making it the largest fund focused on early-stage (Seed/Pre-A) enterprise, deep tech, and sustainability startups in Southeast Asia.

Surpassing its US$120 million fundraising goal, Wavemaker’s Fund 4 is 22% bigger than the previous fund (US$111 million) that closed in October 2020. Fund 4 brings the Southeast Asian firm’s total assets under management to over US$300 million.

Wavemaker secured commitments from a diverse investor group, comprising institutional investors, university endowment funds, funds of funds, family offices, corporates, and high net worth individuals.

The fund is anchored by returning investors Pavilion Capital, Temasek Holdings, the International Finance Corporation, and Vulcan Capital.

“We are grateful to our limited partners who have believed in us and stayed with us over the past 10 years, and we welcome the new investors who have decided to take the leap with us. We hope to validate their trust as we continue to back high-growth startups that solve meaningful problems in enterprise, deep tech, and sustainability,” said Paul Santos, Managing Partner at Wavemaker.

Wavemaker has trained its sights on enterprise, deep tech and sustainability startups — a rare focus for a venture capital firm in Southeast Asia. Out of the 170-plus companies it has invested in since 2012, about 150 (85%) are in enterprise, deep tech and/or sustainability. The firm remains steadfast in its goal of finding solutions to pertinent issues in the region. Today, 75% of its active portfolio startups contribute to at least one of the United Nations Development Programme’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The firm also recently launched a climate tech venture co-builder called Wavemaker Impact, which aims to co-found ‘100 x 100’ companies or those with the potential to deliver US$100 million in revenue while abating 100 million metric tons of carbon emissions on an annual basis.

Wavemaker’s investment strategy has led to the creation of a differentiated portfolio which has started to bear fruit. The firm has delivered more than 10 exits so far with an aggregate enterprise value of over US$700 million. These exits include mobile point-of-sale system Moka (acquired by Gojek), cloud communications software company Wavecell (acquired by 8×8), inventory and order management platform TradeGecko (acquired by Intuit), and online payment solutions provider Red Dot Payment (acquired by PayU/Naspers) — all among the Top 10 M&A deals in Southeast Asia for all time.

The firm has also seen significant up-rounds for a wide range of portfolio companies, such as agritech startup eFishery, B2B e-commerce platforms Growsari and GudangAda, financial crime-detecting AI company Silent Eight, and Iterative Scopes, which developed AI-powered precision-based technology for gastroenterology.

New appointments

As Wavemaker continues to grow its investment impact, it also strengthens its organization. The firm today announced the appointments of Melissa Ho to Principal and Phuong Tran to VP for Investments and Country Head for Vietnam. Ho will lead the firm’s whole investment team, as well as sit on the boards of portfolio companies, while Tran will lead Vietnam investments for Wavemaker and solidify the VC firm’s efforts in the country.

Ho joined the VC firm in September 2018 and most recently served as Vice President for Investments, covering the markets of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Australia. She started her career at Singapore Airlines, where she held various roles, from corporate strategy, fuel procurement and hedging, to product innovation and management. Subsequently, she joined Shopee and led its regional marketing team, sourcing and nurturing strategic platform-wide partnerships across synergistic industries. Ho graduated Summa Cum Laude from New York University, with a double major in International Relations and Economics.

On the other hand, Tran previously held the role of Senior Associate at Wavemaker. Before joining the firm in March 2020, she was one of the early members of Vietnamese VC VinaCapital Ventures, where she sourced and executed Seed and Series A deals. She also worked as a project coordinator to develop a joint venture project between a Singaporean petrochemical firm and Vietnam’s largest refinery Dung Quat.

“Mel and Phuong are both smart, analytical, and tireless in everything they do. Mel has a wealth of experience investing in promising companies across a range of industries, geographies, and technologies, including GudangAda (B2B marketplace), Musiio (AI for music industry), and ecoSPIRITS (smart circular spirits distribution). For Fund 4, she’s done Shikho (edtech), Poladrone (agritech), Bitfrost (AI & data), and STACS (blockchain & fintech). She has stepped up as a leader, helping nurture and develop members of the investment team. We’re confident that she’ll only do better as she takes leadership of the whole investment team,” said Gavin Lee, General Partner at Wavemaker.

“For her part, Phuong helped us establish our Vietnam portfolio. She’s identified opportunities for us and led us to invest in exciting Vietnamese companies like Foodmap (B2B/B2C agritech platform) and Dat Bike (electric motorbike startup), which have since raised follow-on investment. For Fund 4, she brought in Medici (medtech), MindX (edtech), and Vigo (B2B marketplace), which are showing significant progress. We look forward to further growing our Vietnam efforts under Phuong’s guidance. We’re grateful to have exemplary women leaders like Mel and Phuong who greatly contribute to Wavemaker’s success,” Lee added.