YANGON, MYANMAR – Building Markets launched ‘Mekong Angels’ (www.mekongangels.info) – a website with open-source databases and survey insights about angel/seed investments in the Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The website provides an overview of the angel/seed investment climate, including: an open-source database of angel/seed investment up to USD $250,000 per round from 2014 to present in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam, and survey results from many startup founders and investors involved in the listed angel/seed investments.

The database has details on 128 investments of nearly USD $4 million, including the startups, investors, investment amount, investment vehicle, and valuation.

The survey results reveal the opinions of 20 startup founders and 5 investors on a wide variety of issues, including investment theses, amounts committed for future investments, preferred investment vehicles, preferred mode of post-investment involvement, and challenges with the other side of the table.

Key Insights

Database Insights:

  • Based upon data collected so far, Myanmar seems to have the most active angel investors and Vietnam has the most active early stage venture capital firms in the region
  • Many angel / seed investments do not disclose details due to confidentiality agreements or aversion to media attention

Survey Insights:

  • Startups have difficulty identifying and meeting with angel investors
  • Startups prefer earlier investments at smaller amounts and in exchange for a smaller equity stake than investors
  • Startups and investors prefer equity investments to other vehicles
  • Startups often do not have a clear exit strategy; Investors seek to exit via Acquisition (Trade Sale)
  • Startups and Investors seek a return on investment in 1 – 3 years (which is significantly shorter than actual regional and global trends)
  • Startups expect a lower return on investment on angel investments than Investors
  • Startups and Investors perceive that knowledge of angel investing best practices is low
  • Most angel investors are currently working, and previously have founded or led businesses

Benefits

Mekong Angels helps startup founders identify active and reputable investors – which can often be tricky considering that angels are often reclusive, and non-active angels/brokers are far more common than active angel investors.

The information on the website also facilitates angel/seed investments by giving startup founders and investors a point of reference for negotiations based on historical information about investment amounts, investment vehicles, and valuations.

Loring Harkness, lead researcher for the Mekong Angels project, says “Mekong Angels is the first time this information has been collected and shared with the public. Now startup founders can use local information to find investors, conduct due diligence, and negotiate a fair valuation. It’s an incredible resource.”

Jonathan Kieusseian, CEO of Amyanpoh, a last mile parcel delivery and payments facilitator for e-commerce and omni-channel companies in Myanmar that is currently in the middle of raising funding, stated “It’s often difficult for startups to identify angel investors who may be interested in their fundraising round. Mekong Angels helps startups understand which angel investors are active, and how they invest. As a result, startups save time and energy, and investors get to see better deals.”

Building Markets hopes that startup founders and investors will improve and expand the information, thereby creating a living open-source document.

Origins

Mekong Angels was initially conceived at the Mekong Startup Ecosystem Summit 2.0, held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on March 23-25, 2017. The summit brought together startups and angel investors from across the Mekong region to share best practices in angel investing and facilitate more angel/seed investments in startups.

Mekong Angels is also inspired by Map of the Money (http://www.mapofthemoney.com), a visual list of active venture capital firms and active investors in Singapore initially created Meng Weng Wong and now expanded by Arnaud Bonzom and Florian Cornu.

Methodology

The data was generated using four key steps:

First, Building Markets searched local and regional startup publications including DealstreetAsia, Tech In Asia and e27 for articles written about angel/seed investments.

Second, they spoke to a wide range of startup founders, investors and other ecosystem actors to identify any unreported angel/seed investments.

Third, they reached out to both the startup founders and investors involved in each investment and asked them to verify, correct or add to publicly available information. (Although many startup founders and investors were not able to disclose all the details of every investment – often due to confidentiality agreements, they were generally very helpful.)

Fourth, they asked each startup founder and investor to complete a survey about opportunities and issues surrounding angel/seed investments.

Partners

Mekong Angels was implemented with a grant from Tigers@Mekong and in-kind support from Mekong Business Initiative.

Mike Ducker, Entrepreneur In Residence at J.E. Austin Associates, who runs the Tigers@Mekong Initiative, states “The number of business leaders that have taken the responsibility of building their ecosystem through angel investing in the Mekong region is inspiring. The US State Department program Tigers@mekong is proud to play a small role in the whole process. “

Website

See the database and survey insights at http://www.mekongangels.info.

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Building Markets

Founded in 2004, Building Markets is an award-winning non-profit that creates jobs and encourages economic growth in developing countries by finding, building, and connecting competitive local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to supply chains and investment. Through this approach, the organization has built a network of more than 22,000 verified SMEs, assisted them in winning over $1.3 billion in contracts, and helped create over 69,000 jobs in some of the world’s poorest

economies. Building Markets is headquartered in New York City and currently operates programs in Liberia, Myanmar, Mozambique, and Turkey. For more information about Building Markets , please visit our online platform, http://www.buildingmarkets.org.

Tigers@Mekong

TIGERS@Mekong, a US State Department initiative, is accelerating the ecosystem in the Mekong countries by partnering with existing champions, mentors, and leading ecosystem actors to launch new tech startups. TIGERS@Mekong is bringing together leading ecosystem actors to help build and grow the ecosystems in the Mekong, while simultaneously focusing on the next group of entrepreneurs and helping them pioneer fresh, new business ideas. Locally experienced and successful entrepreneurs provide support through developing competitions, pitch events, accelerators, incubators and training programs to guide, push and encourage young, emerging entrepreneurs. TIGERS@Mekong is also helping organize active investors throughout the Mekong region, in order to provide more opportunities for Mekong tech startups.

http://tigersmekong.co/

Mekong Business Initiative

The Asian Development Bank and the Australian Government jointly launched the MBI in 2015. The MBI catalyses private sector development in emerging Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets, focusing on Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, and Vietnam. The program aims to improve the business-enabling environment in these four emerging ASEAN markets with particular focus on business advocacy, alternative finance, and innovation.  It is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Australian Government.

http://www.mekongbiz.org