Indonesia's Alpha JWC Ventures closes US$123m tech fund

[SINGAPORE] Alpha JWC Ventures, an Indonesian firm co-founded by a former banker turned venture capitalist, has closed its second fund at US$123 million.

This is a record for an Indonesia-focused early-stage venture capital (VC) fund, underscoring growing investor interest in fostering a new generation of startups in a country that gave birth to Internet giants such as Gojek and Tokopedia.

The Jakarta-based VC firm launched its debut, US$50 million fund in 2016, which backed 23 early-stage startups mostly in Indonesia. They include automotive online marketplace Carro, peer-to-peer lending company Funding Societies, and Kredivo, a digital lending platform in Indonesia. Net asset value of that fund has increased 3.2 times, according to the company.

Through its second fund, Alpha JWC has already backed 14 startups, including Kopi Kenangan, a popular grab-and-go coffee chain in Indonesia.

"We are on the ground and get the earliest information about deals," said Chandra Tjan, managing partner of Alpha JWC who co-founded the firm with partners Jefrey Joe and Will Ongkowidjaja. "The digital landscape and trends in Indonesia have changed in the past year, and we have to be more active yet cautious."

Daniel Lin, chief executive officer of FundedHere Pte, a crowd-funding platform that introduces entrepreneurs to investors, said that while the earliest VCs have invested in Indonesia since 2010, it's only been recently that startups in the country have begun to adopt technology in a significant way to reach a wider audience. "Including Indonesian startups at the seed and Series A stages will be critical to the success of the startup portfolio," said Mr Lin.

Prior to starting the company, former Credit Suisse and Citigroup Inc banker Mr Tjan had co-founded and served as managing partner of East Ventures, which has become the most active VC firm in Indonesia. In 2019, East Ventures closed its sixth fund at US$75 million and launched a US$200 million growth fund together with Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas and an arm of Yahoo Japan Corp.

This year, Alpha JWC has bolstered its team by promoting Erika Dianasari to a partner from principal and added two new partners: Alan Hellawell, former chief strategy officer of Sea Ltd, and Eko Kurniadi, former vice-president of investment at private equity firm Creador. Mr Ongkowidjaja has stepped down as managing partner to start his own company, Honestbank, though he will remain as a founding partner of Alpha JWC, according to Mr Tjan.