Two former principals of Singapore-based venture capital firm Tryb Group, namely Herston Powers and Scott Krivokopich, recently launched a new VC firm called 1982 Ventures.
Also located in the city-state, 1982 Ventures was set up in December 2019. The firm will invest in early-stage fintech startups across Southeast Asia with a core focus on Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, and Vietnam.
“We have created and executed a strategy on investing in various fintech firms in Southeast Asia in the past. We came up with a thesis on finding great founders and watching them perform well with major late-stage investors following our investments. So seeing that the thesis worked, we feel that it is our time to launch the same strategy as a clean, brand new VC fund,” Powers told KrASIA during a recent interview in Jakarta.
The name 1982 came from the year both Powers and Krivokopich were born. Powers is responsible for setting the strategy and direction of the venture, and is also active in portfolio management and investor relations, while Krivokopich is in charge of investments as well as deal execution strategy, and manages the overall operations.
During his stint at Tryb Group, Powers led the firm’s investments in Indonesian Islamic fintech startup Alami and Indonesian proptech firm Gradana. He also managed the investment in Maria Health, a Philippines-based insurtech platform. Meanwhile, Krivokopich has led investments in First Circle, a digital lender for small and medium enterprises (SME) based in the Philippines, and in AsiaCollect, a digital debt collection service provider.
Powers said that 1982 Ventures is the first exclusively seed-stage fintech VC firm. “We only invest in fintech because that is our expertise and we want to be the first VC that founders accept money from,” said Powers.
The firm aims to invest in about 40 to 50 companies in the Fund-I and execute at least ten deals with a ticket size of USD 100,000 to USD 500,000 per investment, in the next nine months. Amid the possible capital winter for early-stage investments in Southeast Asia, Powers believes there’s still huge potential in this segment.
“The risk of investing in seed-stage startups is actually very similar to investments in slightly more mature companies, say series A and B. However, the returns in the seed-stage will be much bigger than the later stage. The reason we have such strong conviction in seed-stage companies is, first, we have the ability to pick the right founders and we give them capital to prove what they pitched to us. Then, we help them get to the next round, that’s what 1982 Ventures is all about,” Powers said. “The seed investors from a few years ago are now doing later-stage deals now as their fund sizes have grown., so what I’m seeing on the ground is that there’s a gap in VC funding for seed-stage companies. It is still the hardest round for founders to raise money.”
He is also optimistic about the development of fintech in the region, especially in Indonesia, where people are becoming accustomed to cashless payments. He believes that fintech-powered lending will continue to grow due to the huge financing gap. There are still many opportunities in specialty financing and other parts of lending. Also, more players will enter the insurance tech and SaaS B2B fintech sectors as markets see growth.
“Our core focus will be lending, payments, and payments infrastructure, as well as insurtech,” Powers said. “Additionally, since the middle class in Indonesia and Southeast Asia will continue to rise, their consumption of financial services will also change. Therefore, we’re interested in exploring opportunities for fintech in advisory wealth management and different types of securities trading platforms.”