Equity-crowdfunding VC OurCrowd has made a slew of announcements this week in the run-up to their annual Global Investor Summit. This morning was no exception with the unveiling of a new Taiwan operation that will be opened in conjunction with local partner Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank (SCSB). SCSB will in turn invest several million dollars into OurCrowd, though they were not specific about the amount.
“We see Taiwan as one of the major technology and innovation centers in the world and are excited to be partnering with one of Taiwan’s leading banks, SCSB,” said OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jon Medved in a press release.
OurCrowd’s managing partner in charge of Asia operations, Denes Ban, will be in charge of the office. In speaking to Geektime on the sidelines of the conference, he explained that OurCrowd wants to expand wherever it can, but really can only be done with the help of a local partner.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be banks,” he says, describing a threefold goal of helping Asian investors get money into the company’s portfolio (which is largely Israeli), connect Israeli startups with Asian companies to help the latter be more effective, and finally to insert OurCrowd into local deal flows, i.e. get themselves a couple Taiwanese portfolio companies.
The move to Taipei follows the opening of a Singapore office last March where it launched with a $10 million investment from United Overseas Bank and has since facilitated several Singaporean deals in Israeli companies like the $38 million round in Celeno.
“If you want to invest $100,000 today, whether in Singapore or Taipei and want to invest $100,000 into startups globally, how would you go about it?”
Besides serving as that rare conduit into a foreign startup economy, OurCrowd’s platform also helps investors with a critical need to diversify, something extremely important when it comes to early-stage technology companies whose fail rate is high.
“Taiwan we believe there is a very strong interest but we need some time there,” Ban postulated, noting that OurCrowd still needed to do the outreach to find the people looking to drop some cash on small startups. In the case of both Singapore and Taiwan, the connections to potential high-rollers are best found with innovation-minded banks.
“The banks have all these relationships, so they can be our distribution partners to their clients who need that diversification.”
Taiwan’s reputation for hardware and entertainment companies precedes it, but there is a developing taste for other industries like fintech and cyber security. Again, banks will be critical here.
“The objective of the bank’s investment in Israel’s OurCrowd equity crowdfunding platform, aside from wanting to generate investment income, also aims to be able to use its investment to access foreign start-up companies, and the latest financial technology, network security technology, and innovative financial services,” SCSB Executive VP and CIO John Yung wrote in the partnership announcement.
“At the same time as introducing Israel’s OurCrowd to Taiwan, it hopes to facilitate its understanding of the progress of new developments in the country, improve OurCrowd’s investment opportunities in Taiwan, and inject fresh funding sources into new Taiwanese ventures.”