If you want Ine Jacobsen to invest in your business, you should be set on solving real and meaningful problems. Problems that could fundamentally reinvent an entire industry. Ine works for a venture capital firm in Singapore, named Cocoon Capital. She is responsible for keeping an eye out for the best and brightest early-stage enterprises, or any new deep-tech investment opportunity in Southeast Asia. We sat down with Ine Jacobsen, also a elected NBAS board member, at the Cocoon Capital’s head office in Singapore to learn more about the company and the venture capital scene in Southeast Asia.
Second stint in Singapore
The 34-year-old is from Oslo, and this is her second stint in Singapore. Having previously lived here in the 90’s with her parents, she is now here for business.
Ine received a degree in business from a top-ranked business school in Norway and has attended education in the US. Her work experience includes risk advisory and auditing at PWC, as well as a background in fintech from a start-up called Zwipe AS. She moved back to Singapore in early 2019, where she soon found her position at Cocoon Capital.
Successful venture capital fund
Two of the most experienced early-stage tech investors in Southeast Asia, William Klippgen and Michael Blakey manage Cocoon Capital, which was founded in 2016. Worth SGD 40m , they have so far invested in 20 companies across the region. William came to Singapore from Norway in 2003 after having co-founded the price comparison portal Kelkoo.com. He was then one of the first early-stage tech investors in Southeast Asia.
Ine explains Cocoon’s unique approach to early stage investing as: “We only invest in six companies a year. Hence, the founders allow us to act as trusted advisors to them in the pivotal time when they form their business . This includes the search for the initial product-market-fit. Cocoon typically invests before the company has made any revenue , and sometimes even before they have developed any product. The fund provides funding for close to 2 years until the start up company is able to raise more funds from larger investors.”
Learn more about Cocoon Capitals portfolio companies here.
Cocoon Capital has also gained local acclaim here in Singapore. First and foremost, earlier this year, Enterprise Singapore, added Cocoon to their Startup SG Founder scheme. The Startup SG Founder Scheme is a mentoring program for local founders. Enterprise Singapore invited Cocoon Capital to join the scheme due to their top quality programs, strong management and leadership, and operational sustainability. Also ,Cocoon Capital was one of the first partners of an SGInnovate scheme where professional investors and the Singapore government co-invest in promising deep-tech startups.
Read: Enterprise Singapore names 14 new partners to nurture start-ups (Strait Times)
Singapore and Norway expand collaboration in four sectors (Strait Times)
Dare to change – regionally and globally
Focusing on Southeast Asia, Ine explains that Cocoon Capital mainly sort the landscape into two broad groups. Firstly, regional opportunities that are specific for Southeast Asian countries, given their unique location, history and rate of tech adoption. Secondly, global opportunities that can be solved with new business models or tech innovations by founders here in Southeast Asia. Ine explains “Our founders are as diverse as the problems they are seeking to solve”. To illustrate, BuyMed, a leading e-commerce healthcare marketplace in Vietnam solves a regional problem of making it easier to search and order pharmaceuticals and supplies online with quality services and fast delivery. GuardRails, on the other hand, another portfolio company, is a cloud-based security platform that continuously scans codes and alerts customers around the world for for vulnerabilities in their coding.
Sharing in the network
Cocoon Capital is deeply committed to developing the Southeast Asian startup ecosystem. The entire team is actively participating in events around the region; speaking at conferences, contributing on panels and offering mentorship. “That is one of the many reasons why we involve ourselves in the Norwegian Business Association Singapore. It is also great to build a network of other Norwegians for William and myself“, smiles Ine, who is a board member in NBAS. At NBAS, Ine initiated the focus on super apps in August this year. Furthermore, she was a panellist at the Singapore Norway Innovation Conference, debating the future of work.
Watch the debate on super apps & fintech: What is the road forward and who will charge it?
Female Founder Mentoring Hours
Underlining Cocoon’s commitment to the ecosystem, a key initiative has been the launch of Female Founders Mentoring Hours (FFMH) in Southeast Asia. Partnering with the largest investment funds in the region, Cocoon enables 120 female entrepreneurs to meet 50 investors for 1-1 mentoring sessions. “Every entrepreneur has a 15-minute meeting with four different investors. The entrepreneurs can choose to pitch an idea or ask for advice”, says Ine. She explains that the initiative is based on similar events happeining at increased speed also in other parts of the world, initiatives and steps taken towards bridging the funding gap between male and female founders. Only around 3% of venture capital investments currently go to female founders. Therefore, Cocoon Capital believes that enabling female entrepreneurs to meet and greet potential investors and pitch their ideas, can present further investment opportunities for them.
To apply for the next Female Founder Mentoring Hours 1 and 2 December, click here:
Visit Cocoon Capital’s website here
NBAS is collaborating with upcoming artists in Singapore and Norway to showcase their work. In return, we get a creative take on our graphic profile. In November 2020, NBAS is featuring Lis Tamara. If you are interesting in buying her art you can visit her website at https://www.silvermagickship.com/