INSEADAlum Ventures announced today the launch of its US$700,000 (S$1 million) fund to invest globally in startups founded by INSEAD alumni. Off to a fast start, the fund announced its first investment in UK-based, smart thermostat startup Switchee Ltd where it participated in a £480,000 (US$584,000) seed round.
InseadAlum Ventures is based in Singapore, but targets global investment opportunities in companies co-founded by at least one INSEAD alum. It will provide seed funding, value-added resources and mentorship to startups with high–growth potentials.
The investment firm was founded by two INSEAD alumni with successful track records as both entrepreneurs and investors – Deepak Shahdadpuri (‘98D) and Will Klippgen (‘03D). InseadAlum Ventures will invest between S$50,000 and SG$200,000 in each startup and will help develop them to a point where they can raise further seed or Series A funding. Entrepreneurs will get access to senior alumni, industry experts, faculty and other investors.
The firm’s investor base includes successful alumni entrepreneurs such as Jani Rautiainen, Co-founder of PropertyGuru, Southeast Asia’s largest property portal and Aloke Bajpai, Principal Founder of India’s largest online travel search portal, iXiGO.com. INSEAD faculty is also strongly represented by Prof Claudia Zeisberger, Dr Hellmut Schütte, Dr Serguei Nettesine and Dr Neil Bearden.
Zeisberger is a long-term advocate for a closer co-operation between the business school and investors. “I believe InseadAlum Ventures adds a new dimension to INSEAD’s ecosystem supporting its alumni entrepreneurs. I look forward to supporting their future portfolio companies.”
Its first investment, Switchee, is founded by INSEAD graduate, Adam Fudakowski who said, “We are extremely pleased to become part of the InseadAlum Ventures portfolio. We look forward to working with Will and Deepak, and to leveraging their extensive expertise and that of the INSEAD community as we grow Switchee further”.
Switchee aims to deliver smart home solutions for social housing across various European markets starting with the United Kingdom. The first product is a smart, learning thermostat that enables housing estate owners and managers to fight fuel poverty and conserve energy while also being able to detect mould growth, improve boiler servicing and message residents directly.
Switchee serves a consumer niche in the category of smart home solutions specifically for social housing in the UK and other similar European markets such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. It has been able to demonstrate strong, initial success in capturing this market by offering a solution that takes into account the specific circumstances of the social housing residents and estate managers.
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