Gaming Powerhouse Playlab Scores $5 Million in Series B Funding to Takeover Southeast Asia

Bangkok, October 14, 2015– Playlab, the Hong Kong-owned mobile gaming house responsible for Juice Cubes, has secured $5 million in Series B funding through the Southeast Asian-focused venture capital firm Monk’s Hill Ventures. The funding will be used to propel Playlab, which also has studios in Thailand and the Philippines with Singapore distribution, to the forefront of Southeast Asia’s mobile gaming marketplace, building operations across the region.

This round, one of the largest secured by a mobile gaming firm in Southeast Asia, comes on the back of Playlab achieving growth of 850% over 2014 and will drive Playlab’s international expansion. Following last year’s acquisition of Manila-based game developer Anino Games (Anino Playlab), Playlab will continue to focus on growth in Southeast Asia. The fastest growing mobile entertainment company in the region, Playlab has seen its staff increase from 20 to over 100 in the last year to keep up with game development demand. Operations will grow further under plans to work with global and local publishers to become the go-to partner in Southeast Asia.

According to Forest & Sullivan, Southeast Asia’s mobile gaming revenue is forecast to exceed $7 billion by 2019, following revenue of $1 billion in 2014. These bullish market expectations and Playlab’s record led to this funding, the largest to-date from Monk’s Hill.  

“The gaming market in Southeast Asia is growing incredibly fast, and our actions are a reflection of the demand,” said Jakob Lykkegaard Pedersen, Playlab co-Founder and CEO. “We already understand the gaming desires of consumers, so this funding will help us give the market what it wants. Now, we will be able to place bigger bets on games targeting the region. We expect to make a profit within two years.”

Peng T. Ong, a founding partner and Managing Director of Monk’s Hill Ventures, a VC fund backed by Yahoo Japan Capital and Cisco, said: “As the gaming market matures in Southeast Asia, we expect to see an increase in the number of casual gamers, too. Since getting to know Jakob and his team, Playlab are the best people to service the high-end casual gaming market, and become the top game house in this region.”

Jakob Lykkegaard Pedersen continued: “We have seen the billion dollar Southeast Asian mobile market value double every second year and believe it will continue to behave this way. Partnering with a firm that understands this fast growing market, Monk’s Hill adds immediate value to our team. Together, we will be able to place more strategic bets and invest in the market to fully take over the region. Until now, we have kept Playlab bootstrapped, but with our rapid growth and so many opportunities on the horizon, the time for us to invest is now."

Cisco and Monk’s Hill Ventures Accelerate Innovation in ASEAN

Singapore, September 9, 2015 – Cisco Investments today announced a US $ 10 million investment into Monk’s Hill Ventures’ innovation fund for start-up companies. This fund aims to drive innovation and technology disruptions across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by supporting early stage start-ups in companies that have solutions focused on Cloud, the Internet of Everything (IoE), Big Data and Analytics, Mobility and Enterprise applications.

Monk's Hill Ventures has two primary areas of focus for investing in high-growth technology companies: first, on early stage, Series A and B, technology start-ups operating across Southeast Asia and second, on technology companies from around the world that want to expand into Southeast Asia.

Cisco, in addition to providing funding, will also explore ways of sharing technology and go-to-market expertise with invested companies in the region. This investment is aligned to Cisco Investments’ strategy to fuel innovation, by investing in venture capital funds that support the transformation of local economies and industries.

“Cisco has a long history of working with governments and organisations in ASEAN to promote innovation and economic development, and we know that the Internet is the platform that enables the delivery of new applications and solutions,” said Saleh M. Haji Munshi, President, ASEAN at Cisco.

“Our investment with Monk’s Hill Ventures reinforces Cisco’s strategy for supporting disruptive innovation, and I’m excited by the opportunities it creates for connecting communities, people, processes, data and things in ASEAN. ASEAN continues to be one of the most diverse, fast-moving, and competitive regions in the world with countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. In addition to attracting multinationals, ASEAN has become a launching pad for new companies; the region now accounts for 38 percent of Asia’s market for initial public offerings,” he added.

The partners of Monk’s Hill Ventures have built numerous Silicon Valley and Asian VC-backed companies over the past two decades, with operating experience in all of the major countries across Asia—from China and Japan to India and Indonesia. They also bring strong networks across Asia and the US, to help entrepreneurs with further fundraising, landing key enterprise customers, recruiting top talent, and expanding internationally. The firm has offices in both Singapore and Jakarta, and the investment team travels widely within the Southeast Asia region to meet promising companies.

“The concept of the fund is simple: entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs. We are bringing an incredible wealth of experience and best practices to ASEAN, and our goal is not to just invest in companies but build the overall start-up ecosystem to help accelerate growth across the region. We’re committed to driving this in ASEAN with Cisco and our other partners, as we promote innovation and economic development together,” said Kuo-Yi Lim, Managing Director of Monk’s Hill Ventures.

Cisco Investments is an active investor with more than 40 investment professionals with deep market and technology expertise located in major geographies, including US, Canada, China, India, Israel, and Europe. Over the last 20 years, Cisco Investments has invested in hundreds of companies across different segments and helped them to build successful IPOs or acquisitions. Cisco Investments currently has an active portfolio of $2 billion with nearly 100 direct investments around the world, and also holds Limited Partner positions in over 35 funds globally.

“The ASEAN region is transforming rapidly through digitalization along with a growing community of local entrepreneurs developing new technologies and applications for the region and the world. Cisco Investments’ first investment in ASEAN focuses on helping the country and regional community grow, by nurturing the local ecosystem of start-ups. With this investment in Monk’s Hill Ventures, I’m excited by the opportunities this new breed of companies in ASEAN have, to engage with Cisco, exposing them to our partners, brand and customers, and therefore helping to expand their reach across the region,” shares Pratik Bose, director, Corporate Development at Cisco in Asia Pacific and Japan.

 

MONK’S HILL VENTURES LAUNCHES WITH S$100M FUND RUN BY SOUTHEAST ASIA’S SERIAL ENTREPRENEURS

“ENTREPRENEURS BACKING ENTREPRENEURS”

Singapore & Jakarta, May 15, 2014 — Monk’s Hill Ventures launches with a S$100M venture fund and a team of seasoned entrepreneurs focused on early stage technology startups across Asia. The partnership comprises Peng T. Ong, Kuo-Yi Lim and Stefan Jung, and Thomas Clayton as special advisor. The concept of the fund is simple: entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs. The partnership sees the lack of operational experience as a critical deficiency across the VC landscape in Asia today.

“There are clearly two big gaps in the market. One is the much talked-about Series A funding gap. However, the more significant one that we see is the lack of seasoned entrepreneurs, with deep operating experience, as investors—people who can roll up their sleeves and really help entrepreneurs,” says Peng T. Ong, partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures, “This is what separates the best VCs from the rest.”

The partners of Monk’s Hill Ventures have built numerous Silicon Valley and Asian VC-backed companies over the past two decades, with operating experience in all of the major countries across Asia—from China and Japan to India and Indonesia. They want to leverage this experience to help entrepreneurs build big companies on a global scale. They also bring strong networks across Asia and the US, to help entrepreneurs with further fundraising, landing key enterprise customers, recruiting top talent, and expanding internationally. 

“We also want to set the bar for how venture is done in Asia, by bringing the best practices we have personally experienced through working with top VCs ourselves,” said Kuo-Yi Lim, partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures, “a straightforward and transparent process which treats entrepreneurs as partners.”

The partnership views Southeast Asia to be ripe for an explosion of leading technology companies, driven by a confluence of favorable macroeconomic conditions, exciting talent and available capital.  “When I first moved to Asia seven years ago, there were only a handful of VC-backed startups,” says Tom Clayton[TC1] , special advisor at Monk’s Hill Ventures, “in just the past three years, there has been a rapid emergence of new entrepreneurs and great startups across Southeast Asia with vibrant ecosystems forming, from Singapore and Jakarta to Bangkok and Manila.”

Monk's Hill Ventures will invest in high-growth technology companies that will take advantage of the fast growing Asian markets. The fund has two primary areas of focus. First will be on early stage, Series A and B, technology startups primarily across Southeast Asia. Second will be on growth rounds of leading startups in Silicon Valley and from around the world that want to expand in Asia.

“I learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to build successful businesses across Asia, and the nuances of each country, as we incubated and scaled up a number of businesses— including Zalora, Lazada and FoodPanda,” says Stefan Jung, partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures, “moreover, we have hired and trained many budding entrepreneurs and now many of them are building some of the top startups across the region.” 

Most importantly, Monk’s Hill Ventures wants to help build the overall startup ecosystem—not just its portfolio companies.  They aim to help as many startups and entrepreneurs as possible in order to help accelerate the growth across the region. The firm will start off with offices in both Singapore and Jakarta, but plans to continue building out and spending time across the major Asian markets.

“The last mile fulfilment problem in Southeast Asia has been exacerbated by the rapid rise of e-commerce – with parcel sizes varying significantly, larger shipping volumes, cyclical demand, and wider distribution requirements. We firmly believe that optimization of logistics in the region revolves around a routing software layer that controls legacy assets while concurrently building our own hardware, infrastructure and assets if necessary to enable the new age of logistics,” said Lai Chang Wen, CEO and co-founder, Ninja Logistics.

Kuo-Yi Lim, partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures, added, "Our investment in Ninja Van reflects our belief in the team, their innovative approach and execution ability. The fast-growing online e-commerce spend and the current state of last mile logistics in the metro cities of Southeast Asia present a very attractive market opportunity. Ninja Van is well-placed to address that and we are excited to be working with the team and fellow investors in this effort." 

  

FINANCE AND INSURANCE PORTAL COMPARE88 GROUP RAISES SERIES A

Jakarta, March 4, 2015 – Finance and insurance portal Compare88 Group announced today that it has raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Singapore-based Monk’s Hill Ventures.

Compare88 owns and operates the CekAja.com brand in Indonesia – the country’s highest-trafficked independent finance and insurance portal, as well as the eCompareMo.com brand in The Philippines. The company will use the funds to further accelerate its growth in the region, expand the team and build out its technology.

CEO and co-founder, John Patrick Ellis says: “We are delighted to partner with Monks Hill Ventures and their executive team of accomplished entrepreneurs.  We share a long-term vision and conviction that online comparison and brokerage services will be highly-popular, equitable vehicles of economic growth and consumer protection in the region.”

Compare88 also announced that Monk’s Hill Venture’s managing director Peng T. Ong, who recently stepped down from the board of Singtel.

“Compare88 has grown quickly into the regional leader in this space,” says Ong in a statement, “And, we look forward to working with the team to building a true regional powerhouse in the coming years.”

 

NINJA VAN RAISES SGD3.5 MILLION IN SERIES A FUNDING LED BY MONK’S HILL VENTURES

FUNDS WILL BE USED TO DRIVE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND REGIONAL EXPANSION

Singapore, March 3, 2015 – Ninja Logistics, a leading last mile logistics company in Singapore, today announced a SGD3.5 million Series A round of funding led by Monk’s Hill Ventures, with participation from regional corporates, including Insas Berhad. The investment will be used to accelerate existing product development and market expansion within Southeast Asia. Kuo-Yi Lim of Monk’s Hill Ventures and Mei Chuen Thong of Insas Berhad will both join the board of Ninja Logistics.

Operating under the brand Ninja Van, the fast growing startup seeks to solve the last mile logistics problem via a multitude of strategic tie-ups and a cutting edge technology stack revolving around reactive and distributed systems. The Series A financing builds on an exceptional ten months for Ninja Van since inception, establishing itself as one of the top courier providers in Singapore, with more than 300 merchants on board including major large-format retailers and brands such as Lazada, Guardian, Pupsik Studio, Love Bonito, Agape Babies, and many more.

Ninja Van’s in-house technology and algorithm teams are actively innovating on several fronts, for e.g., enabling more distribution methods and shorter delivery times.