Wavemaker Partners wins rare double at SVCA Awards

SINGAPORE — Wavemaker Partners, Southeast Asia’s leading venture capital firm for enterprise and deep tech, has won the awards for ‘VC Exit of the Year’ and ‘VC Deal of the Year’ at the 29th Annual Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (SVCA) Awards. This is the first time that a VC received both awards in the same year.   

Wavemaker won VC Exit of the Year with TradeGecko, a retail inventory and order management software company that was acquired by a dominant US player in 2020, and VC Deal of the Year with Growsari, a B2B platform for mom-and-pop stores that is one of the best-funded Series B startups based in the Philippines to date. Joining a list of marquee awardees, including publicly-listed Southeast Asian tech behemoth Sea Ltd (formerly Garena) and Singapore’s newest unicorn logistics startup Ninja Van, Growsari is the first Philippine startup to bag the award from the SVCA. 

“We’re thrilled to have won both ‘VC Exit of the Year’ with TradeGecko and the ‘VC Deal of the Year’ with Growsari. These companies are proof positive that fortune favors the bold. Singapore was just emerging as an innovation hub in 2012, but that didn’t stop TradeGecko’s founders from starting a global order and inventory management software-as-a-service company. The Philippines wasn’t a popular market for tech investors in 2016, but that didn’t stop Growsari’s founders from launching a first-of-its-kind B2B marketplace. We are hopeful that their journeys will inspire the next generation of Southeast Asian tech entrepreneurs,” said Wavemaker Managing Partner Paul Santos, who collected the awards for the VC firm. Wavemaker has US$180 million in assets under management across three funds in the region, and has seen 10 exits valued at close to US$700 million.

“We are very honored to be recognized as the ‘VC Deal of the Year’ for 2021. The Growsari team is energized and will continue to press on in our mission to help more retail stores and MSMEs with the convenience of ordering and selling consumer goods and financial services on our platform. Thank you, Wavemaker, for being with us from the beginning, all our investors, and the SVCA for this award,” said Growsari Co-Founder and CEO ER Rollan.

Organized by the SVCA, a 180-plus member organization comprising the world’s top venture capital and private equity firms, limited partners, family offices, and other stakeholders in the private capital ecosystem, the annual SVCA Awards celebrate the achievements of outstanding VC and PE firms for their contribution to value creation and empowering entrepreneurship through their portfolio investments.

In making the VC Exit of the Year award, the judges considered TradeGecko’s pioneer status in Southeast Asia’s enterprise software industry and how its US$80-million exit in 2020—one of the biggest seen in Singapore since the Covid-19 pandemic—has rewarded Wavemaker with well over 10x returns and the return of its entire Fund 1.

In the VC Deal of the Year, the judges acknowledged Growsari’s role in empowering the tens of thousands of iconic sari-sari stores in the Philippines by eliminating middlemen and extending credit to them from selected partners. With almost all of these stores run by women, Growsari has positively impacted lives by enabling people to stay home and also provide for their families. Apart from Wavemaker, Growsari has raised a total of US$30 million in funding to date from prominent investors, including Temasek Holdings’ private equity unit Pavilion Capital, Tencent, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), ICCP SBI Venture Partners and Saison Capital, as well as the Philippines’ Gokongwei Group’s Robinsons Retail Holdings and JG Digital Equity Ventures.

“In both instances, Wavemaker recognized the opportunities very early on, seeded the ideas as the first institutional investor, and provided significant help to refine the strategies. They also provided valuable counsel to the founders and opened their networks locally and overseas to attract follow-on financing to further propel their growth,” said Doris Yee, Executive Director of the SVCA. 

Like in previous years, the SVCA assembled a group of world-class senior VC and PE executives to serve as the judging panel for 2021:

  • Chiam Fong Sin, COO, Pavilion Capital International Pte Ltd
  • Chue En Yaw, Managing Director, Head of Private Equity Funds, Azalea Investment Management Pte Ltd
  • Chris Loh, Partner, Axiom Asia Private Capital Pte Ltd
  • Marcus Lam, Executive Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Singapore

This year marks the second time that Wavemaker won VC Exit of the Year—the first was in 2016, when Singaporean skincare and cosmetics online store Luxola, now known as Sephora Digital, was sold to Sephora, owned by fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH). Wavemaker was also part of the first institutional round led by Qualgro Partners for 2019 VC Exit of the Year winner, cloud communications platform Wavecell. Wavecell was acquired by US-based 8×8 for US$125 million.

About Wavemaker Partners

Wavemaker Partners is Southeast Asia’s go-to VC firm investing in enterprise and deep tech startups. Since 2012, it has backed 140+ companies, of which 120+ (85%) are in enterprise and deep tech. The firm has US$180 million in AUM across three funds, and has seen 10 exits valued at close to US$700 million. Recent exits include TradeGecko’s acquisition by Intuit, and Moka’s and Coins.ph’s acquisitions by Gojek. Today, 70% of Wavemaker’s active portfolio startups are aligned with at least one UNDP Sustainable Development Goal. Portfolio startups include Borneo, ecoSPIRITS, eFishery, Growsari, GudangAda, and Silent Eight.

About Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association

The Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (SVCA) was formed in 1992 to promote the development of the venture capital and PE industry. As the common voice of the private capital ecosystem across institutional investors, family offices, asset managers, and service providers in the region, the SVCA promotes the collective interests of its members and contributes toward the development of Singapore as a leading global hub for private capital fund management. Through proactive outreach, engagement, collaboration, and expansion of its member base, the SVCA aims to further the development of a vibrant private capital ecosystem in the region and harness the power of private capital toward the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

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