Lightspeed Venture Partners today announced the start of operations in Southeast Asia. Headquartered in the company's new regional headquarters in Singapore, the Lightspeed team will invest in startups across Southeast Asia from the three global funds closed earlier this year, valued at approximately $ 4 billion.
The Southeast Asia team consists of partner Akshay Bhushan, who was a founding member of Flipkart's corporate development team before joining Lightspeed five years ago. Partner Bejul Somaia, who helped set up Lightspeed India; Vice President Pinn Lawjindakul, a veteran of Grab and Tiger Global Management; and Senior Investment Associate Marsha Sugana, who previously worked at L Catterton and Goldman Sachs.
Bhushan told theinformationsuperhighway that Lightspeed opened its Singapore office in January to serve as the base for its team when they met with entrepreneurs across the region. Obviously, the onset of COVID-19 restricted travel, but they continued to talk to startups via video calls and emails.
Lightspeed is focused on early-stage investments and has already invested in some of the most productive startups in Southeast Asia, including Grab. Other portfolio companies in the region are the Indonesian startups Chilibeli, a social commerce platform, the B2B wholesale market Ula and the e-commerce logistics platform Shipper, as well as the Singaporean software developer NextBillion.AI.
Some of Lightspeed's investments in other countries have also shown keen interest in Southeast Asia as a key market for global expansion, including Indian startups OYO Rooms, Darwinbox and Yellow Messenger.
Through regional operations, Lightspeed can work more closely with its portfolio companies and forge closer relationships with entrepreneurs, said Bhushan.
He added that the pandemic had led to the rapid adoption of technology, including platforms that help small businesses digitize their operations or sell online, supply chain solutions and remote working or online education services.
In sectors such as fintech or logistics, there are also many opportunities in several Southeast Asian countries to set up transformative platforms and services. For example, according to Bhushan, Shipper is focused on solving some of the biggest supply chain and logistics challenges that ecommerce sellers face in Indonesia, while Grab has facilitated access to digital payments and other financial services like insurance.
"The big opportunity in most emerging economies, and this is true for most Southeast Asian markets, is that we are generally finding that much of the basic infrastructure is broken and founders can use technology to fill those gaps," said he. "What excites us are founders solving these infrastructure problems, and a lot of our investments are in that spirit."