The Israeli OurCrowd platform represents a fascinating development in the world of startup funding
Hybrid VC equity investing platform OurCrowd announced Thursday that they have partnered with the dominant United Overseas Bank, opening up a new set of opportunities for investment in both regions. As a part of the deal, UOB will be investing $10 million into OurCrowd, giving the banks accredited investors access to the platform’s exciting portfolio.
As an equity crowdfunding platform, OurCrowd offers their investors the opportunity to access companies that would otherwise be reserved for VCs and angels. Accredited investors can make investments starting at $10,000 to gain equity in their diverse portfolio of primarily Israeli companies.
The Sassoon group lead by Chairman Victor Sassoon is also taking part in this venture, coming along for the first section of OurCrowd’s entrance into Southeast Asia.
OurCrowd was founded in 2013 by CEO Jon Medved. They now claim a roster of 11,000 investors in 110 countries, having raised $200 million to fund 93 companies to date. Among their success stories is Israeli ReWalk that IPOed on the NASDAQ in September 2014.
Beyond their base in Jerusalem, they have offices in NYC, San Diego, Toronto, London, and Sydney.
Opening doors to Asia
This partnership signifies a major step for OurCrowd and startup funding in Asia, marking the partnership between an equity platform and large financial institution in the region.
“The UOB OurCrowd partnership represents a huge step forward for OurCrowd and the Southeast Asian tech ecosystem,” Medved told the press in his remarks on the deal. “Together, we will empower scores of new entrepreneurs and match them with global investors and mentor networks. The beauty of crowdfunding OurCrowd style is that the investor in Southeast Asia can now access quality deal flow in Israel, Silicon Valley and beyond, while a Singapore entrepreneur can easily gain top notch global backing.”
While having built much of their base in Israel, the platform is in the midst of growing its overseas portfolio.
Of particular interest to the fund are investment opportunities in companies that are developing solutions for logistics, Fintech, 3D printing, next generation manufacturing, medical and e-commerce.
Medved tells Geektime that OurCrowd is looking to Asia with a number of goals in mind. They hope to onboard large numbers of Asian investors who would like exposure to global startup deal flow. This partnership will also allow them to provide assistance to their current portfolio companies who wish to establish a presence in the region, and this deal will let them make introductions to potential Asian distributors and strategic partners. He says that access to the dynamic Asian deal flow is a real draw for his fund, noting that “Some of the largest tech companies have come out of Asia and we want to be a part of it.”
For OurCrowd, the signing of this partnership is just the beginning of their future plans in Asia. Medved tells Geektime that, “Singapore is a global financial center with particular importance for SE Asia, as well as influence and importance for greater Asia, including China.”
Among the locations of interest listed by the hybrid VC where they hope to expand to are hot spots like Hong Kong, Beijing, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.
The OurCrowd platform represents a fascinating development in the world of startup funding. While not quite as democratic as the more accessible Kickstarters and Indiegogos that let anyone throw in a couple of bucks to back an exciting project, OurCrowd has opened the doors to a significantly larger cadre of investors who can now take part in helping startups grow and flourish.
With all of the talk, some of it very well justified, of a slowdown in funding for startups, the increased demand by investors to put their money into startups speaks highly of the global ecosystem.
Clearly the fact that OurCrowd has such direct access into the Israeli scene is a draw for the Asian market, but it also signifies that the generally more traditional Asian investors see substantial opportunities in startups as the wave of the future. This shift should be taken as good news for local Southeast Asian startups as their ecosystem continues to mature.