Kickstart Ventures, one of the most active venture capital firms in the Philippines, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a renewed commitment to invest in startups across the Philippines, and in major innovation hubs in Southeast Asia and beyond.
The Philippine-based corporate venture capital firm also reveals a new bold look in line with its anniversary. The new Kickstart logo represents the evolved version of the company while maintaining its signature kite logo, which speaks to the aspirations of the company and its portfolio, rooted in an ambitious purpose and dynamic movement, rising against the winds.
Committing to enabling startups
When Kickstart was established in 2012, the Philippine startup ecosystem was at its nascent stage. Ambitious and promising startups abound, but none managed to scale as fast or as large as those in neighboring countries. This inspired its founders Minette Navarrete, Dan Siazon, and Christian Besler to pitch for a pioneering evergreen fund to the Globe board, starting with $2.5M on its first year. Their goal was to make seed investments in local tech startups to fill the funding gap and get better digital solutions across to consumers and enterprises.
Coming from that early start, Kickstart now manages two funds for Globe and advises the $180M Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture (ACTIVE) Fund, the largest fund to come out of the Philippines. The ACTIVE Fund is anchored by Ayala Corporation, and counts the Bank of the Philippine Islands, AC Industrials, AC Energy, and Globe Telecom, as its LPs. Kickstart continues to invest out of its first fund with its mission to support the Philippine startup ecosystem, drive innovation, and enhance Filipino digital life as evidenced by its recent investments in kumu, edamama, and NextPay. Out of the ACTIVE Fund, it has invested in eight startups that represent the areas that the Ayala Group seeks to drive forward: new technology, emerging trends, and innovative business models that the Ayala Group believes in.
From being the single local conglomerate playing the Philippine VC space in 2012, there are now at least nine corporate groups in the scene, proving Kickstart’s founding team’s belief that the VC and tech investments ecosystem is coming of age. Kickstart has happily co-invested with a number of these groups, along with other investors in the country and overseas.
With the growing recognition of its funds and investment track record, Kickstart will continue to support the Philippine startup ecosystem through its investments and community support while also seeking to make an impact on the global tech community.
"Our brand refresh is one of many initiatives to portray our evolution and communicate our mission of breaking barriers and building bridges through the expansive Ayala, Globe, and Singtel networks,” said Carla Samson, Corporate Communications Manager of Kickstart Ventures. "Our refreshed positioning leverages the strengths and values we’ve delivered over the years and displays the depth of our aspirations – be it in the funds we manage, the markets we have a presence in, or the industries we invest in.”
Taking flight in innovation hubs globally
While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of society, it has in turn accelerated digital adoption across businesses and consumers especially here in the Philippines. According to the 10-year old VC firm, the Philippine startup ecosystem will continue to flourish in the foreseeable future thanks to the arrival of the Filipino digital consumer who is expected to lead the boom of the Philippine internet economy to $40B in value by 2025 according to the e-Conomy SEA 2021 report.
Globally renowned VC firms like Andreesen Horowitz, Warburg Pincus, Insight Partners, General Atlantic, and SIG, have all made notable investments in Philippine startups in the past year and Kickstart anticipates that these investors and more will continue to take an interest in the Philippine market given the sustained adoption of Filipino consumers, the second largest consumer market in SEA, who see themselves purchasing goods and services digitally even post-pandemic.
As more investors take an interest in Philippine startups, Kickstart sees an opportunity to continue championing innovation for the Filipino consumer and business by expanding its search for tech startups in innovation hubs around the world particularly in the US, Europe, and across Asia. Kickstart Portfolio Operations Director, Bit Santos, explains, “We have a robust network that delivers data, alongside financial, industrial, and social capital, we see many opportunities for growth and expansion. We have a dedicated team to support our portfolio companies for business development, media relations, and community engagement. We aim to become the investment partner of choice for investors and startups looking to invest or expand in the Philippines as their entry point to the larger Southeast Asian region.”
“We will double down on our investments in industries where we believe we add the most value. These investments will be made in industries of interest in the near-term, like in the areas of digitalization and the creation of a more frictionless future; decarbonization through technologies that catalyze behavior change; and decentralization through the emergence of blockchain-powered ecosystems and use cases,” says Minette Navarrete, Kickstart’s President. “As we grow the size and capacity of our investment team, we will also increase our accessibility to startups through our various innovation and community partners in the Philippines and around the globe.”
Risks that reap rewards
At a time when Southeast Asia had no known digital companies or massive startup success, Kickstart envisioned a Philippines & SEA region where the founders’ greatest ambitions could take off, and where startups could achieve massive success within a community that is justifiably proud of its achievements. The last decade saw this vision coming to reality with 25 new unicorns emerging at a record pace in 2021 compared to only 21 unicorns prior to 2021. In the Philippines, deal volume and aggregate value have been on an upswing with the average quarterly deal value growing 37x in 2021 compared to 2019, and more local startups progressing into later stage rounds.
Kickstart also saw its own portfolio take off through successful value-creating exits which include Coins.ph, a mobile wallet acquired by Indonesian superapp Gojek in 2019, followed by Naver’s 2021 acquisition of Wattpad, an online social reading platform, and the most recent investment of Thailand’s True Digital Group in ZAP, the top rewards program provider in the Philippines and one of Kickstart’s inaugural batch of investments.
In the last two years, it has also seen two of its portfolio companies successfully reach unicorn status starting with San Francisco based Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform, and Xendit, a Southeast Asian leading payment gateway – riding on the back of megatrends on the future of work and the future of payments.
Like many Asian conglomerates, Kickstart’s LPs have begun adopting innovative solutions across a wide range of industrial processes, whether in telecoms, banking, real estate, energy, or manufacturing. The firm is optimistic about the future, one that is powered by technology to be more intelligent, efficient, sustainable, and equitable. It looks forward to creating more value for its LPs, partners, customers, and most especially for the startup community that continuously drives innovations for a better world.
As a part of the Globe Group, Kickstart supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG No. 9, highlighting the roles of infrastructure and innovation as crucial drivers of economic growth and development. It is committed to upholding the UN Global Compact principles and contributing to 10 UN SDGs.