If you examine the structure of many investment firms in Asia Pacific, you’ll find that many of them are split into two. On one side, you’ll have the investment component that backs startups in their selected stage, sector, and geography. On the other side, you’ll have unique programming in partnership with a third-party institution.
While both these initiatives are meaningful, they tend to be segregated, offering no meaningful connection or value-add to one another. This disconnect is rooted in the program’s origins: Nearly all are commissioned by the larger institution. Because investment firms cannot say no to good money - they’re startups, too, in a very real sense - they often take on programs with little thought into how it’ll fit in with their fund’s overall thesis.
Such is not the case at Accelerating Asia. Since our founding in 2019, Accelerating Asia has partnered with many regional and global institutions. Though it was challenging at the beginning, we have since developed a formula for successfully incorporating this programming into our investing. This integration gives any investor who works with us a decided advantage over those who partner with investment firms where there is still a split focus between their portfolio and their programs.
Here’s how we combine the two.
Accelerating Asia has held a wide variety of programs, such as UNDP Springboard Plus, a virtual program for startups, and the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab, Land & Expand program.
Each of these programs would indeed represent mission drift from our core aim of investing into fast growing startups in Asia if we did not use them as a way of building strong relationships with promising startups. But we make it a point to do so. We use these venues to spot and engage with fast growing startups that we can then filter as dealflow into our main fund. For example, we later invested in iFarmer, AmarLab, and Deaftawk, which were sourced from the UNDP program.
The thinking here is simple: Startups who excel in our partner programs that have a solid business model, present an investment opportunity, and are a right fit for us are just as likely to excel as a member of our core portfolio. By using these programs as a kind of proving ground for our startups, our investors minimize their investment risk through founders who have already demonstrated their entrepreneurial ability, domain expertise, and startup commitment.
Some accelerators end up as glorified events companies. In these instances, they’re tapped by a larger institution to organize and execute a particular startup program, and then the collaboration ends as soon as the program is over. These accelerators are just a vendor, one that happens to specialize in startup, tech, or innovation programming.
Accelerating Asia does not take on any such projects. We only accept collaborations for partner programs if they’re a springboard to a deeper collaboration. The sponsoring enterprise must bring value to our portfolio in the form of expertise relating to a sector, region, or stage, or help us help founders in some other substantial way (our core belief at Accelerating Asia is that entrepreneurs are one of the greatest catalysts for positive change).
Take the case of the previously mentioned program with UOA to help Australian startups expanding into Singapore. From this collaboration, we sourced Numu, which became one of our strongest portfolio companies and allowed us to contribute positively to the tech ecosystem: Numu has disrupted how influencer marketing is done, and now stands as a flagship startup.
All our partner programs, in effect, are short-hand ways to expand Accelerating Asia’s network for the benefit of our portfolio startups and their investors.
A large part of Accelerating Asia’s success is rooted in the selection process. As we get well over 1,000 startup applications per year, from which we only select the very best 1.5%, the companies who do make it into our portfolio represent only the startups with the highest growth potential.
We use these partnership programs to form connections across this high value network of startup founders and their investors and even the broader ecosystem. We run many program-related events that are open to the public; facilitate introductions between program partners, participants, and just about everyone else; and highlight individual leaders as people worth following, if not connecting directly with.
The effect of connecting our stakeholders to the wider ecosystem is immediate: Startup founders, investors, and others report enjoying the community more because we don’t only bring them into the fold of Accelerating Asia, but among much wider network of movers and shakers who want to change the world through innovation.
Programming at Accelerating Asia, in brief, is not just a source of revenue. All of the programs we take on and the institutions we partner with are strategic, driven by one aim and one aim alone: To equip all our startups for success.
Accelerating Asia invests in startups with scalable technology solutions and revenue generating business models that combine purpose with profit.
In making an investment decision, investors must rely on their own examination of startups and the terms of the investment including the merits and risks involved. Prospective investors should not construe this content as legal, tax, investment, financial or accounting advice.