Taiwan's big data firm Vpon, which currently operates in seven cities in Asia, established its investment arm called Vpon Ventures in October. The initial capital of the evergreen fund is US$10 million (NT$300 million).
The fund comes following a big announcement a month ago in which Vpon raised US$40 million (NT$1.2 billion) in a Series C funding round led by the Japanese government's Cool Japan Fund.
Commenting on Vpon's shifting role from an investment to an investor, Victor Wu, CEO of Vpon, said, "Vpon is 12 years old already. In the past, we were a startup who kept looking for investors. It was a difficult task. Now, we are an experienced startup. We can't solve that issue, so we decide to become the one who gives out funds."
"US$10 million is not a big number, and Vpon is not a big company. Even so, we are willing to run a corporate venture capital fund. We hope that Taiwan's five tech powerhouses, banks, or other well-known startups such as Appier and KKday can follow suit, co-creating a startup ecosystem," he said.
Vpon Venture will invest in big data, AI, and new economy-related startups and organizations in Asia. Vpon is planning to announce its first investments by the end of 2020.
"It is no doubt that the data industry is the next stress of global strategic economic development. Vpon believes in assisting the growth and expanding the competitive edge and in fostering new ventures to obtain more support for fundraising, business development and R&D, so that Asian big data & AI-related companies and startups can better and faster integrate into the global markets," said Chen Mei-ling, Vpon's business advisor and Taiwan's former National Development Council minister.
"And all these goals can only be achieved by exchanging information, investment experience, and industry trends, and by facilitating cooperation between developed companies and startups," she added.
Through offering capital, technology, and business network resources, Wu said he hopes to maintain "strategic cooperation" with clients and strengthen the connections within Asia.
While Vpon will seek the longitudinal alliance with existing clients and partners, the company will also collaborate with other sectors such as digital health, insurance, and finance, IoT to build the horizontal alliance.
Wu hopes that the debut of Vpon Ventures can promote entrepreneurship, knowledge transfer and bring positive impacts to the communities across Asia. In addition, the investment arm can serve as a role model to encourage more business leaders in Taiwan to co-create an environment for young entrepreneurs and jointly invest in the future in the region.
"I wish this action can stimulate commercial institutions and CVCs to be more willing to invest Asian startups, especially in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan, so that the younger generations can truly see hopes and future!" he said.
Founded in 2008, Vpon offers mobile data-driven marketing analysis and solutions. The firm served 1,500 brands, including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, American Express, and Citibank.
It is not the first time Wu invests in the startup scene. He was the angel investor of a blockchain solution provider called Xrex.