Indonesia’s Centauri Fund received a KRW 10 billion (USD 8.5 million) investment from the South Korean sovereign wealth fund K-Growth this week. The deal makes K-Growth a limited partner as Centauri Fund continues to back promising startups in the region, especially in Indonesia.
Centauri Fund was launched in 2019, with backing from MDI Ventures, Telkom Indonesia’s venture capital arm, and KB Investment, a subsidiary of South Korea’s KB Financial Group. Headquartered in Jakarta and Seoul, Centauri Fund invests in pre-Series A to Series B startups in the region, with a ticket size ranging from USD 1 million to USD 5 million. The fund has invested in five companies so far—Indonesia’s insurtech Qoala, logistics firm Paxel, fintech platform Cermati, SaaS startup Run System, and Singapore’s social commerce startup Webuy. The fund aims to raise USD 150 million by early 2022, according to Kenneth Li, Centauri Fund’s partner.
KrASIA recently talked with Centauri Fund partner Kenneth Li about the firm’s plans to strengthen the tech ecosystem between Southeast Asia and South Korea.
KrASIA (Kr): What makes Centauri Fund different from other VC firms that are part of Telkom’s ecosystem, like MDI Ventures and Telkomsel Mitra Inovasi?
Kenneth Li (KL): We are not bounded by Telkom Groups’ strategic initiatives or direction. This grants us a much broader investment landscape. Our main priority is to generate returns for our limited partners, and we do that by making solid investments within the region’s tech industry. For corporate funds like MDI500, there is a limitation in the sectors we can cover and it is highly dependent on “synergy first” with Telkom’s ecosystem.
Kr: Why is Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, an important market for South Korean investors? Besides capital, what support will the Centauri Fund and K-Growth provide for startups?
KL: The region’s digital economy is growing at a fast pace, and each major market hosts at least one unicorn. Indonesia is a crucial market in the region. In terms of the number of funding deal, Indonesia is a close second to Singapore.
For portfolio startups, we offer strategic partnerships with our LPs, especially KB Financial Group and Telkom Group. We also extend our ties to Indonesia’s state-owned enterprises outside of Telkom. In addition, we provide startups with access to capital as we can bring them into our later-stage funds, MDI 500 and KB Investments.
Kr: Will you help local startups to expand to Korea? How many companies will you invest in with this fund?
KL: This is the ideal situation and something we are keeping an eye out for. We’ve had previous successes with the MDI Ventures’ first and second fund where we help local startups expand regionally, as well as assist foreign startups to enter Indonesia through direct go-to-market partnerships and access to our network. We hope to replicate this aspect with the Centauri Fund as more Korean companies are entering Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia and Vietnam. We’re eyeing industries that can accommodate synergies between the tech ecosystem of Southeast Asia and South Korea, such as fintech, SaaS, and e-commerce. Regarding the number of startups, we don’t have a specific target for now.