Sequoia and Gobi hunting Aussie start-ups following Airwallex round

Sequoia and Gobi hunting Aussie start-ups following Airwallex round

Big name Chinese venture capital firms are hunting for Australian tech start-ups to invest in, targeting firms in the fintech, agricultural and medical technology sectors.

Sequoia Capital partner Steven Ji and Gobi Partners principal Chibo Tang were in Australia last week meeting with local start-ups, venture capital firms and government ministers, with the aim of finding new businesses to back and both agreed that Chinese investors were keen to invest in asset classes outside of property in the country.

“We think Australia is a good place for innovation technology and products, particularly in the fintech area,” Mr Ji told The Australian Financial Review.

“There’s been a lot of technology innovations in the past like WiFi and Google Maps that have started here. I believe the education system and the innovative spirit … should lead to a lot of good entrepreneurs.”

Mr Ji has been a partner at Sequoia Capital China since 2005 and has led investments in companies such as Meituan-Dianping, a major reviews, group-buying and restaurant booking website in China, as well as Chinese domestic classifieds website Ganji, which saw rival fork out $US412.2 million ($555.5 million) and 34 million newly issued shares for a 43.2 per cent stake in 2015.

Mr Ji’s latest investment was announced last week in Melbourne-based fintech start-up Airwallex, marking Sequoia Capital China’s first foray into the Australian market.

Sequoia was joined by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, Mastercard and Gobi Partners in the $17.3 million round. It was also the first local investment for Gobi, which had led the firm’s $US3 million round in 2016.

Mr Tang said as well as looking to back more local start-ups, Gobi was open to forming partnerships with local venture capital firms, but there were some lessons Australian start-ups could take from their Chinese counterparts.

“Entrepreneurs here still have a big emphasis on work-life balance and doing things outside of the start-up,” he said.

“But it’s a very competitive environment in early stage start-ups and it’s all about how much time and effort you put in. The culture in Australia is still laid-back and it needs to catch up to the rest of the world.”


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