There are two big pieces of news out of Siemer Ventures on Wednesday.
First, it will no longer be called Siemer Ventures. The firm has announced that it is rebranding and will, from now on, be known as Wavemaker Partners. The move comes as the firm puts more resources into the Southeast Asian market.
"It is mainly to better differentiate the investment entity and align our branding with our Singapore entity, particularly as we're now focusing a larger portion of our resources in the region," David Siemer, co-founder and Managing Partner of Wavemaker Partners and founder of Siemer & Associates Investment Bank, told me in an interview.
"Also, the fund has grown a lot since I founded it many years ago as a personal vehicle for my own investments, and we have a much larger partnership, so it was somewhat overdue."
The second piece of news is that it has made the first close on its third fund, an early stage venture fund called stage Wavemaker Fund III. The fund is only half full at this point, but the firm expects it to reach its full $45 million goal, Siemer said.
The size of the fund is a big increase from the previous two that the firm raised: an $8 million fund, and a $28 million second fund raised in 2011. When its third fund fully closes, it will give Wavelength a total of $81 million raised.
That may not sound like much, but its perfectly in line with the firm's goals, Siemer told me, as it focuses on on late seed stage opportunities in B2B and B2C startups.
"We are more value focused than most VCs," he said, noting that it goes by a “ponies not unicorns” thesis. That means it won't invest in companies, like Twitter or Snapchat, which do not have a revenue model.
"We only invest in companies with revenue and launched products that have customers and users. Even though we're seed stage, we don’t take bets on companies that are pre-revenue," he said. "We don’t mind investing in niche companies either, as our model is predicated on base hits rather than home runs."
And, so far, that strategy seems to have worked well for the firm, with a large portion of the 140 companies that the firm has invested in going on to raise a lot more money, and to exit.
That includes Viagogo, which Siemer called the "Stubhub of Europe." The company has raised a total of $65 million. There is also MINDBODY, which he described as "Opentable for fitness center," and which has raised $108 million. Another investment was in marketing platform Shift, which has raised $14 million and had a couple hundred million in revenue last year, according to Siemer.
The other differentiator for Wavemaker is its focus on Southeast Asia.
Two of the firm's partners grew up in the Philippines, and the firm sees great opportunities in the region as there are 620 million people in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines, Siemer said.
"They do have some technology. It's a huge market that's highly underserved but its they are also difficult countries to operate in," he told me. "They don’t have easy laws and there are a lot of ins and out to invest and to get the money out of there of there when you do."
For Wavelength, they do have some advantages, including the fact that most of dollars in its last two funds come from Southeast Asia. Plus, it has investors in countries that give it a leg up and it does a “funds to funds” model, with incubators and accelerators that are active investors in the countries, so that companies can be vetted and the good deals can be filtered.
"We do feel like we have help navigating the region. We are aligned with influential groups, and have decent standing, so if there was a lawsuit we’d have a chance."
In fact, Wavelength is so active in the region, that its investment team in Asia is actually larger than its team in the U.S. at this point.
The firm typically invests between $250,000 to $750,000, and never goes north of a million. Its median investment size is $300,000, and it plans to make another 100 or so investments with this latest fund.
Note: Siemer Ventures was an early investor in Vator.
(Image source: dewexpo.com)