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In The Foxhole with Foxmont
Capital's Managing Partner

November 23, 2020

  •   3 min read

“That’s what I love about startups. They set out to solve one problem, and then later on realize that they are able to solve many more."

FRANCO VARONA
Managing Partner
Foxmont Capital Partners


Franco is the Managing Partner of Foxmont Capital Partners. Franco guides his investee companies and their founders in tackling the unique business and operational challenges present in the Philippines. Franco is also a Co-Founder and Director of Global Media Post Ltd. (HK), a boutique media agency specializing in promotional country reports. Prior to Foxmont, Franco led Grab Philippines as General Manager from 2012-2014.

THE INTERVIEW

Can you explain why Foxmont invests exclusively in Filipino founders and Philippine-based startups?

We’re a Philippine-focused fund because there’s a lack of capital access in the early stage of funds here. With local PE firms and foreign VC firms, their minimum bite sizes are too large, and their goals are too big for simple “friends and family” startups. We want the firm to be inclusive enough to accept all kinds of Filipino businesses, be it in tech or otherwise.

What industries are you excited about?

Any challenges that Filipinos face and any solution to those are what excite me. For example, Fintech is an industry whose importance we’ve all learned during lockdown in the Philippines.

I took the role of GM for Grab because I wanted to help solve Manila traffic starting with taxi driver behavior. In 2012, you never knew what you were getting into entering a taxi. I’d like to think that maybe Grab helped a little bit! [laughs]

You merely have to look at our growing portfolio to see that companies we invest in —Booky, Bounce, Edukasyon, and KUMU— are those that recognize, and set out to solve inherently Filipino problems.

KUMU, for instance, addresses how Filipinos are losing entertainment. Inadvertently, they’ve even given homesick OFWs an avenue to experience authentic Filipino community.

That’s what I love about startups. They set out to solve one problem, and then later on realize that they’re able to solve many more.

What does the Philippine startup ecosystem need most?

Our fund’s philosophy is being a fund for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. We partners also have our own entrepreneurial experiences in the Philippines and we want to share our knowledge in this relatively challenging environment. We wish to infuse founders with as much of our relationships and expertise as possible so that they are prepared for the later stages. We don’t just want to dump capital and tell our investee companies to succeed. The value of having a local VC on board is that we understand first-hand the entrepreneurial challenges in the Philippines.

What has changed in the entrepreneurial landscape that gave sense to starting a venture capital fund?

Entrepreneurship entails understanding the situation around you, seeing the available opportunities, understanding the risks, and seeing what potential value your business can bring to your local community and the world at large.

In my own experience, it was my openness in understanding the world around me that helped me most as an entrepreneur. In 2012, public transportation was untrustworthy. Six years later, I saw it was timelier to start Foxmont. I recognized that there was an inflection point where brain drain was reversing. We were getting a lot of Filipino Americans and expats bringing home know-how from abroad. The businesses these guys have been building became motivation for fresh grads and young professionals who see that businesses here can succeed, that you don’t need to work abroad, and that you can take a risk here.

Foxmont Capital Partners is a venture capital fund “for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs” dedicated to supporting Philippine startups with capital, expertise, and network through the different stages of growth.

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