Wed, 08 Jul 2015

A couple of weeks ago Tech in Asia raised US$4 million from a group of international investors. One of them was Marvelstone, a name you may never have heard of if you’re based in Indonesia.

Marvelstone is a venture capital firm that claims to have a strong presence in Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Co-founder and CEO Gina Heng says her company develops and funds growing Asian businesses. The firm’s key focus is the financial sector, but it has also dabbled in the tech, real estate, hospitality, trading, and media verticals.

Heng oversees all of Marvelstone’s portfolio companies and subsidiaries which include the firm’s affiliate accelerator, called 10K.

Days after Tech in Asia announced its investment, Marvestone’s managing partner Joel Ko visited Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, claiming to be on the hunt for interesting startups in areas like fintech. Heng says Marvelstone is also currently hunting for tech firms in ecommerce, social platforms, and O2O. She adds that in particular, the VC has a keen eye on mobile commerce companies in the beauty or cosmetics verticals.

All sizes

Heng says that Marvelstone invests at all stages, including in growth companies facing an IPO, a merger, or acquisition. However, she says the firm as a whole does prefer to throw money down on startups in earlier stages so as to continue investing as they grow.

“From a VC view, we are more interested in startups that we can help to bring to new markets and grow quickly,” she explains. “We are not just a financial investor […] We want to invest in startups where we can contribute more than money.”

Marvelstone likes to seed companies with investments anywhere between US$25,000 to US$500,000, then invest again during the next round with a larger amount between US$1 million and US$2 million. “Even though we can do really later stage investment like pre-IPO investments, we’d like to participate from [the] early stage,” she explains. “It really depends on how we can help the companies.” Eyes on Jakarta

Barriers to Indonesian ecommerce – separating fact from fiction

The next step is to make a big move in Indonesia. Heng feels Indonesia’s early tech ecosystem is not as strong as other markets. She says:

From what I know, [the] Indonesian market doesn’t have strong accelerators. Or it could also be that startups in Indonesia have reservations in accepting something new from more developed markets. Accelerators are very active in other Asian markets such as Korea, Japan, and Singapore.

Before this year ends, Marvelstone will open up its 10K accelerator program along with a co-working space in Indonesia. For now, the firm has a small office with a representative and an incubator space in Jakarta. However, she anticipates there will be more Marvelstone boots on the ground in the Big Durian later this year, and that naturally means more Indonesian investments.

10k accelerator

“Our core partners have diverse investment and industry experiences,” says Heng. “From hedge fund, private equity, logistics, telcos, and IT, and cross-border business expansions, so we are able to understand across different sectors and markets and help companies to connect the dots.”

(Disclosure: Just a reminder, Marvelstone invests in Tech in Asia, but they did not ask for this article to be written. See our ethics page.)