The tech investors at Quest Ventures today debuted their second fund, worth $50 million.

Focused on making post-seed and series A investments, Quests’ Fund II is seeking out startups “across Southeast Asia and emerging Asia,” the team said in a statement today. That means the Singapore-based VC is eyeing investments in nations it has yet to explore, such as the Philippines and Myanmar.

Quest Ventures’s key facts:

  • Founded in 2011 by serial entrepreneurs James Tan and Wang Yunming
  • First fund backed over 50 startups
  • Big-name investees include shopping app Carousell, sex toy startup Vibease, and property listings site

Quest Ventures partner James Tan tells Technode Global that the firm is still doing deals with startups, despite the ongoing disruption from the Covid–19 pandemic.

The new fund is run by Tan (left), Goh Yiping (center), and Jeffrey Seah:

James Tan alongside Goh Yiping and Jeffrey Seah

Prior to becoming a VC, Goh was an ecommerce entrepreneur and CEO, while Seah has a background as an executive in the digital ad industry.

Increasingly, both global and regional VCs are chasing Southeast Asia’s startups. However, 2019 saw fewer mega deals for late-stage startups and unicorns across Southeast Asia, resulting in total funding dropping to US$7.7 billion from the previous year’s US$12 billion. This year could see the tally drop further.

Kazakh connection

Quest’s new fund comprises money from two major institutional investors: Pavilion Capital, a spinoff from Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek; and QazTech Ventures, which derives from Kazakhstan’s own sovereign wealth fund.

The move will help Kazakhstan’s nascent startup industry to “secure important investments, improve competencies, and gain access to global markets,” says QazTech Ventures chairman Adil Nurgozhin in a statement.

Landlocked Kazakhstan seems to be following the lead of fellow dictatorship Saudi Arabia—a backer of Uber and Softbank’s troubled US$100 billion Vision Fund—by steering its state investment fund and its considerable fossil fuel wealth toward technology investments.

Tan tells us: “This investment is a key part of their efforts to transform and strengthen the country’s economy from one reliant on traditional sectors such as energy, to new sectors such as technology.”

He adds that the Central Asian nation has, like Singapore, “positioned itself as the hub for its region. This investment opens up an economic corridor between the two countries and two regions.”

Quest will set up a startup accelerator program in Kazakhstan as part of the deal.

Editing by David Cohen