Myanmar’s new early-stage fund EME launches with investments in Joosk Studio, CarsDB

A sector-agnostic fund, EME looks to invest between US$50K and US$200K in five to seven startups per year

Emerging Market Entrepreneurs (EME) has announced the launch of its first early-stage VC fund with a focus on Myanmar’s growing startup ecosystem.

The fund has also announced investment in two startups — Joosk Studio (an animation and illustration company) and CarsDB (an online platform for buying and selling cars).

EME is a sector agnostic fund with a special focus on ‘tech-plus’ startups (it means, companies that layer technology on top of existing networks/infrastructures that allows them to scale more quickly). The fund is particularly interested in education, logistics, entertainment, e-commerce and healthcare, and has also started considering more SME-style companies in food processing, tourism etc.

“It’s been a long road since our founding investors met in 2015 and decided to launch a new Myanmar-focused fund. After much hard work, the partners have developed a compelling vision and set of resources for supporting young Myanmar entrepreneurs to build transformational companies,” John Reid, Investment Analyst at EME said.

EME looks to invest in the range of US$50,000 to US$200,000 per startup. The fund intends to make four to five investments and one to two follow-on investments per year. While it prefers equity investments, it will also consider debt/hybrid financing.

“Our fund size is just under US$3 million. We’re a permanent capital vehicle, meaning we can raise additional capital as and when necessary,” Reid told e27. “We have a couple of (more) exciting pipeline prospects which we will announce in the coming months. We’ve met over 100 companies and organisations since commencing operations at the beginning of 2018, and will continue to engage actively with the community through meetings, events and workshops.”

EME believes the market is a bit early for pure deep-tech companies in Myanmar, and it prefers companies that are targeting the mass market i.e. not just wealthy urbanites in Yangon and Mandalay. “Our focus is on finding good startups that we can help grow to the next level using our experience and networks. While CarsDB is in a great position right now having bested Rocket Internet’s, there’s a lot of room for them to grow both geographically and vertically.”

While the fundamental internet platforms in Myanmar (houses, jobs, cars, social media, transportation) are already established, there are many sectors that are still ripe for digital disruption. Accelerators like Phandeeyar and Rockstart Impact are doing a great job at spreading awareness about entrepreneurship. However, the startup market continues to face some major challenges, including HR – finding and retaining talent, customer education, and infrastructure/business processes.

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