Genesis Alternative Ventures is targeting the Asian venture debt market with the support of the Sassoon Family Office (“Sassoon Investment Corporation”). Genesis, as well as the Sassoon family office, has its headquarter in Singapore. A article in The Business Times states that Genesis wants to raise $70M in order to offer more venture loans for Asian startups. Venture debt is the right form of financing for heavily growing – but yet unprofitable – startups who want to continue their growth path without collecting more equity.
Experienced team in venture lending
The three founding partners Martin Tang, Ben Benjamin and Jeremy Loh have extensive knowledge in venture capital, venture lending and private equity. Martin Tang worked for the investment banking firm Lazard and was Vice President of DBS banks venture growth team. Ben Benjamin, an Insead alumni, served as principal and owner of the investment company Blaire Holdings. Jeremey Loh, a PhD biomechanical engineer, met with Tang at DBS Bank and formerly worked for EBDI as vice president for venture investments. According to Genesis, the experience of the team helps to “structure flexible debt financing to suit entrepreneurs’ growing phases of business and build a successful venture”.
Opportunities for venture debt business in Asia
Indeed there might be a suitable market for the young venture debt firm: funding rounds of Asian startups have dramatically increased in size over the last years. For example, the (also Singapore-based) ride-hailing startup Grab raised $1.5B in a recent funding round of SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Nevertheless, most Asian venture capital funds concentrate on equity investments. That’s bad for startups who run out of cash but only need a few years to an IPO or profitability. If they don’t want want to collect an additional funding round, they have to take on debt. Unfortunately, traditional banks often shy away from the heavy risks of giving out credits to quite new companies. Genesis steps in here with their venture lending business. Genesis already invested in three companies: GoWork, Grain and Horangi Cyber Security. GoWork is the premier company for coworking space in indonesia. Backers include Convergence Ventures and 500 Startups. Grain is a food delivery startup who manages all stages from food freparation to order delivery. Horangi, founded by two former Palantir employees, builds security solutions for companies.
Sassoon Single Family Office as influential backer
The Asian Sassoon family is often called the “Rothschilds of the East” because of their huge wealth accumulated through trade and entrepreneurship. Today, the family invests and holds their money through the Sassoon Investment Corporation, which also backs Genesis Alternative Ventures. In general, the Sassoon family office is active in retail, food & beverages, technology real estate, education – and now venture lending. The main asset of Sassoon is the famous “The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf” brand. Sassoon is an active investor in the Asian startup community: In 2016, the company announced to invest in the Asian expansion of the Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd to support equity fundraising for Asian startups.
Picture source: Mike Enerio
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