Startup generator and early stage venture capital firm Antler has announced that they will establish a new office in Indonesia in 2020 with a goal of nurturing at least 20 local startups annually.
According to Antler co-founder and managing partner Jussi Salovaara, the program will start in the first half of next year in Indonesia and will involve 50 founders to test it out. As to the reason why they selected Indonesia as their base, Salovaara added: “The reason why we chose Jakarta is simply because of the large and untapped potential. When we began in Singapore, we started looking outside of the city-state. If you look at the successful unicorns in the domestic market and any other regions, they have a presence here.”
For Antler, it is also important that their brand new office be headed by a local leader with the necessary experience and understanding of the Indonesian startup ecosystem, besides top leadership qualities. Currently, they are actively seeking out a local and experienced CEO to head their Indonesian office. “We need top people to run Antler to make sure we find the right leader. Our requirements are high. It is very critical to choose a local leader,” Salovaara explained. Besides their search for a local leader to head their Indonesian base, they had last year appointed Stefan Jung, who had previously been a managing partner at Lippo-affiliated venture capital firm Venturra Capital for four years, as their Southeast Asia chief investment officer.
Antler has in the past launched US$30 million funds each across six regions: Africa, Australia, Europe, the Nordics, the U.K. and the U.S. Usually Antler invests around US$100,000 in each of the startups. As for Southeast Asia (SEA), founder and chief executive officer of Antler, Magnus Grimeland, explained that the venture capital firm will reach the final close of its US$30 million SEA fund by the end of this year. The SEA fund was actually oversubscribed and has had its vehicle size increased from the initial allocation of US$15-20 million, and has so far invested in 32 startups. The fund has financial backing from institutional investors, family offices and high networth individuals from Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Japan.
As for an Indonesia-focused fund, Salovaara said that while they have yet to establish such a fund, they are currently exploring ways to do so.
As for the kind of startups that they are looking to nurture, Antler emphasized that they always look at the qualities of the founder first and foremost. Even though Antler is currently prioritizing former employees of local unicorns and serial entrepreneurs, they would gladly welcome founders from diverse backgrounds. “We look at the individual team. How strong they are to build a team, how good they are in problem-solving. It is all about the founders. Of course, we also look at the market that they are operating in, business models etc,” Salovaara said.
Besides Indonesia, Antler is also considering expanding in other Southeast Asian markets like Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.