HANOI -- Thai property developer Sansiri Pcl is counting on its venture arm, Siri Ventures, to introduce new technologies -- ranging from drone deliveries to electric-vehicle charging to autonomous driving -- into its traditional real estate business.
Siri Ventures is a joint venture between Sansiri, which owns 97% of the unit, and Siam Commercial Bank. It has so far used about a third of its $45 million in assets to directly invest in startups, mainly in the property technology (proptech) area. Another $15 million went to venture capital funds.
COVID-19 has turned investment firms across the world more cautious and slowed the pace of deal-making, and Siri Ventures is no exception. The Thai venture firm had hoped to finish deploying its assets by the end of the year, but it is likely to need more time.
For now it is seeking to ramp up investments in its proptech "sandbox," which allows startups backed by the fund to test and deploy applications across Sansiri's properties.
It has previously collaborated with autonomous car developer Airovr, drone delivery firm Fling and intelligent security sensor producer SoundEye as part of the sandbox initiative. Its latest investment as part of the sandbox went to electric-vehicle charging solutions provider Sharge. The startup supplies charging modules and operates commercial charging stations.
Siri Ventures Chief Technology Officer Jirapat Janjerdsak says an investment such as Sharge can lead to the deployment of an electric-vehicle charging system that can indicate the availability of chargers at residential properties and allow users to make reservations.
"We are not counting how many investments we are making, but [rather] making sure that there are potential synergies when we invest," he said.
Sharge is the 10th investment by Siri Ventures, which was founded in 2017. Its ticket sizes range from $1 million to $5 million for deals at Series A stage and onward. Siri's investments cover property tech, construction tech, living tech and sustainability, with a focus on bringing the technology it backs into Thailand.
Its direct investments include Appysphere, a Thai home automation developer; OnionShack, a Thai voice-command application; Semtive, a U.S. wind turbine developer; Astralink, an Israeli 3D technology application for building construction; Farmshelf, a U.S.-based smart hydroponic farm startup; Techmetics, a Singapore-based delivery robot developer; and Neuron Mobility, a Singapore-based e-scooter operator.
Siri Ventures is also a limited partner in two VC funds: U.S.-focused proptech fund Fifth Wall and China Renaissance's $300 million dollar-denominated fund.
Janjerdsak said the firm is in the process of investing in a VC fund in Europe. He declined to divulge further details.
"There are certain geographic areas that we have not covered yet. This new investment will help us cover Europe," he said.
Another attractive market, Janjerdsak said, is Vietnam, although Siri Ventures is likely to delay a significant foray into the Southeast Asian market until after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With your own in-house solutions, I guess it's quite a lot of opportunities. What I do know now is that I will hop on the first flight to get there and actually see if there's any synergy between us and Vietnamese startups that we could work on together," he added.
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