A venture fund run by university students has launched in Singapore to invest in fellow students’ tech business ideas.
Protégé Ventures, a tie-up between Kairos ASEAN and the Singapore Management University’s Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IEE), taps seasoned venture capitalists to train undergraduate and postgraduate students in the city-state to become investors. The students will source and analyze startups across Southeast Asia and invest in them “in real life” through the fund. The investees must have at least one student founder.
Protégé obtained funding from prominent VC firms, including Wavemaker Partners, Venturecraft, Marvelstone, and TSR Partners, to kickstart its operations.
“We noticed there were multiple student venture funds in the United States, but none in Southeast Asia. We wanted to fill a gap in the space and empower students to experience and learn more by doing,” said Hau Koh Foo, director of IIE. Their partner, Kairos ASEAN, serves as the regional chapter of Kairos Society, a seed investment foundation dedicated to backing student entrepreneurs worldwide.
Protégé says it’s looking for 15 driven and analytical full-time university students who must commit at least one year to its program.
The program includes a 10-week curated and structured training, with IIE-led workshops aimed at developing the students’ venture capital skillsets.
The students will also get access to industry events and receive bi-weekly mentorship from investors and entrepreneurs.
Guided by Kairos, they will hunt for interesting student ventures, conduct due diligence, analyze potential investment deals, and pitch investment plans to the fund’s investment committee. Selected student ventures will each receive US$14,500 convertible note investment from the supporting VCs, as well as post-investment support from IIE.
In the US, University Venture Fund (UVF) is said to be the world’s largest to be run entirely by students. Affiliated with the University of Utah, UVF was born after several students raised seed money from charitable donations. The effort got a big boost when University of Utah alum James Lee Sorenson of The Sorenson Companies committed US$500,000 to the fund and challenged the students to raise money from institutional investors instead. Years later, UVF reportedly closed US$5 million from investors like UBS and Tim Draper. According to Crunchbase, UVF has raised US$18.2 million in funds so far, made investments in 17 companies, and seen nine exits, including two IPOs.
We’ve asked Protégé for the size of its fund and other details but are yet to hear back.
Converted from Singaporean dollars. Rate: US$1 = SG$ 1.38.