(photo credit: OURCROWD)
International equity crowdfunding giant OurCrowd announced on Monday, that it has opened an office in Singapore in order to serve the growing demand by Asian investors to fund promising early stage technology companies. The company appointed successful entrepreneur and manager Denes Ban as managing partner in Asia and head of OurCrowd’s Singapore Management company.
“The goal of the expansion is double. One is to help local small and medium sized enterprises to get more funding, so we’ll be looking into some new and amazing deals in Singapore and the region. The other, is to help investors in the region to diversify and invest into global startups,” Ban told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.
The Jerusalem based OurCrowd was handpicked for this task by the United Overseas Bank (UOB), which was looking to expand investment opportunities for its clients in the region. UOB then partnered with the Sassoon family and it’s investment corporation, SassCorp, a long time investor in OurCrowd, to pursue equity crowdfunding for startups in South-east Asia. This makes OurCrowd’s seventh international office outside of Israel.
“One of the biggest banks in South-east Asia, UOB, was looking for some FinTech disruption in the region. After a very long due-diligence process, looking at all the different types of crowdfunding platforms around the world, they decided to partner up with us and invested over USD 10m. in our platform, they will also open their private banking clients to us” said Ban. “Our relationship with the Sassoon family, with SassCorp, is really strong and they really helped us in this and even arranged the launch event tonight for us.”
Additionally, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) granted OurCrowd a formal license to begin operating in Singapore back in August.
According to Ban, the level of trust and reliability OurCrowd enjoyed are also due to its careful vetting and selection process and proven track record. The OurCrowd platform has almost 16,000 investors from over 110 countries, it has so far invested more than USD 320m. into its 100 portfolio companies and funds.
“We are very careful in choosing our deals and our investors. Last year we must have looked at more than 2,000 possible deals and only selected 1 to 2%, we put our own money into the deals and then open them to OurCrowd. But OurCrowd is not moms and pops but only accredited investors,” Ban explained.
Accredited investors are ones that have a net worth of at least USD 1 Million or an annual income of at least USD 200,000 for the past two years. This is an important distinction from other crowdfunding platforms as it gives better assurances and safety both for fellow investors and the investee. So far OurCrowd’s portfolio companies enjoyed two IPO’s and seven acquisitions.
According to OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved, Asia is one of the fastest growing markets for his company and the entire world.
OurCrowd’s business in Asia has grown five times in the last two years and now constitutes more than half of the funding recently invested on their site.
“This move will also help our 100 portfolio companies to enter the Asian market,” Ban told the Post
. “Already, one of our portfolio companies, BioCatch, won the MAS’s Global FinTech Award 10 days ago and received a USD 150,000 prize.”
BioCatch is an Israeli company which provides clients with behavioral authentication and malware detection solutions for their web and mobile applications.
“We see Singapore as one of the major financial global capitals in the world and are really excited to be part of their ecosystem it is the obvious hub to start from,” Ban told the Post
. “Our startups can really help Singaporean and Southeast Asian corporations to be more effective and efficient. BioCatch for example, can really help in protection from fraud, so some of the biggest banks are already in discussions with them.”
“The Singapore-Israel relations are a strong part of this equation. Israel actually has a very strong and positive brand name in Singapore. Singapore is a Smart Nation so this move is Smart Nation meets Startup Nation,” Ban concluded.