Here at First Meta we are experts in virtual currency. In 2008, we created the
first ever virtual credit card based in Second life. We currently offer a
service that allows users to trade virtual currency across multiple environments
and exchange them for real money. Check it out.
10 April 2012
Virtual currency exchange First Meta closes $466,000 funding round.
30 March 2012
Virtual currency startup receives half a million from Plug and Play Tech Center
29 March 2012
First Meta receives half a million in funding from Plug & Play Tech Center.
29 March 2012
First Meta secures half-a-million from Plug and Play and NRF.
For game developers, publishers and sites who issue currency, allowing your
virtual currency to be traded provides users the liquidity they want and
introduces your currency to new users. Participate in revenue created and reduce
fraud and unsanctioned trades
Here at First Meta, we are experts in virtual currency.
In 2008, we created the first ever virtual credit card based in Second life. We
currently offer a service that allows users to trade virtual currency across
multiple environments and exchange them for real money.
We're in the midst of building our next product and are looking for great people
to join us. If you're as passionate about virtual currency as we are, get in
touch with us.
Co-founder, Board director
Douglas heads the overall strategic direction of First Meta. He brings to the
company 7 years of experience as an entrepreneur, venture investor and
entrepreneurship educator in Singapore and 13 years as a corporate entrepreneur
at JP Morgan in New York.
Douglas is the co-Deputy Chairman of the Business Angels Network South-east Asia
(BANSEA) and sits on the steering committee of several NUS venture funds.
Douglas graduated from the Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania with a
B.As. in Communications and received an MBA from The Wharton School.
Douglas Abrams: The man who left the United States enchanted by
Asia’s potential - An investor’s story
By Team YS
September 1, 2013
preview-clap 0 CLAPS
A sneak peek into the mind of investor Douglas Abrams, Expara IDM
Originally from the US, Douglas Abrams, shifted to Singapore in the
year 2000 when he sensed the great opportunity to tap into in the
growing Asian markets. His profile and accomplishments are nothing
short of extraordinary.
An MBA from Wharton, Douglas was an investment banker with J P
Morgan for 14 years in New York where he looked after the technology
and global markets. Today, he is the founder and CEO of Expara IDM
Ventures, and early stage fund focussed on investing in interactive
and digital media startups from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. He
has invested in over 20+ startups in these areas since 2007 via the
fund. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the National
University of Singapore’s (NUS) Business School, where he has taught
since 2001 and is a Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship for the
Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn
University in Bangkok. He is also the Director of Southeast Asia
Business Angels Network since 2001.
Douglas lives in Singapore and calls it his home now. His enthusiasm
for entrepreneurship in Asia is palpable when you talk to him. What
keeps this man going, why does he bet big on Asia, what were his key
learnings while investing in the region? He opens up to us.
Journey from New York to Singapore
I came to Singapore from the US because I believed at that time and
continue to believe now that Asian markets are the most exciting
markets, and for the next 15 years Asian markets will continue to be
the most exciting markets, especially for startups and early stage
investing. I truly believe opportunity for growth is in Asia. In
1999 I visited Singapore (and Asia for the first time) on a business
trip while at J P Morgan, that very trip I decided to move here
full-time. For purely selfish reasons, opportunity brought me to
Genesis of his investment company Expara IDM Ventures
In 2007, I launched Expara IDM Ventures, a public private
partnership between Singapore Government and IDM Program office of
the National Research Foundation where we have made 55,000 dollar
investments in 16 interactive and digital media startups up until
2011. In 2012, we launched Expara IDM Ventures II where we will
continue to invest 255,000 dollars into early stage interactive and
digital media startups.
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In 2008, I also launched a venture fund called Extreme Ventures
which is a 20 million dollar venture capital fund, we did 1-3
million dollar investments up until June 2013
In 2011, we have launched Expara Ventures Thailand, and in 2013 we
have launched Expara Ventures Malaysia.
We also have a 2000 sq feet incubation facility in Singapore. We are
located at Block 71, which is special purpose complex in Singapore
dedicated to incubators, venture capital funds, startups, Government
agencies in the enterprise and innovation space - so it is a cluster
of participants in the enterprise ecosystem. We are on the second
floor of that building. We have 25-30 people working on startups in
the space right now.
I make high risk investments
We invest into a company at a very very early stage, we are always
the first investors in the companies we partner with. We invest in
companies that are pre-revenue, companies that are pre-customer, we
invest in first-time entrepreneurs, we invest in students/young
entrepreneurs, we invest in companies that only have a business plan
and have not developed product yet! What I am trying to say is, we
get in really early. Then we help companies develop in the initial
stages, and they are able to launch successful products and go out
and raise more money.
The small size of local talent force in Singapore is bothering for
When I first arrived in Singapore in 1999, and then full-time in
2000, early stage startup markets and early stage investing were at
infancy. But now they are starting to grow significantly. The
markets are still young, but starting to explode. The number of
startups, the quality of startups, the number of venture capital
funds, the range of funds available, the sophistication of the
startups and the venture capital investors and the various
components of the ecosystem have increased tremendously over the
last 13 years I have been in this region.
The biggest challenge in Singapore market is the small size of the
local talent force. Most people worry about Singapore’s size as a
startup market, but I don’t worry about that because successful
Southeast Asian startups have to target regional or global markets
from Day One. The size of the domestic market is not all that
important according to me. But the problem is the labour market here
is so small. Often the startups that we work with would require a
specialist to join their teams, but most of the talented folks are
already employed. We have very low unemployment rates in Singapore.
There is a lot of competition for skilled employees and startups
have to compete with bigger companies that can pay much more money.
People with highly desired skill sets are small in number, and they
have abundant opportunities in Singapore. However, I don't think
this challenge is insurmountable, smart startups are able to figure
out a way through this.
The second challenge is there is a shortage of experience mentors
who have grown and exited companies and now want to help other
startups. In more mature enterprise ecosystems, we have a lot more
of these mentors. I guess we will see more of them in Singapore too
with time, as we have local startups exiting now.
The third challenge is lack of exits for local startups, but I
believe this is dramatically changing. I am keeping an informal but
not comprehensive tally of local startups that are being acquired by
larger companies. On my list, there are about 15 such companies that
have exited in the last 3 years. Exit landscape is changing rapidly
in Singapore market, which I think is very important for inflow of
more venture funds into the market.
On Thai startup market where Expara recently set up its base
In Thailand, the process has began about two years ago. Thailand is
now where Singapore was in early 2000s. There is a lot of activity
and interest in the ecosystem right now. There is a huge scope for
growth in Thai markets for early stage venture capital.
In Thailand, there is no shortage of skilled labour and skilled
labour is relatively inexpensive when compared to Singapore.
Thailand is a huge country and there are lot of talented people who
are interested in working in startups. But the biggest problem is
lack of the ecosystem, there are very few incubators, very few
venture capital firms active in the region, and incubators and
venture capital firms are critical to the success of startup
ecosystem. I see some incubators and venture capital funds are
starting up now, which is a good sign for the Thai market.
The second challenge is that it is very difficult to sell a Thai
company to a multinational company due to structural or regulatory
limitations in Thai markets. That makes it harder for Thai startups
to sell, which is the key to generating more venture capital. So for
now Thai entrepreneurs that are looking for a significant exit have
to register the company outside of Thailand to sell - this is a
Historical challenge which is the language barrier is reducing right
now, as most young Thai entrepreneurs are fluent in English and are
able to develop their products in English.
Expanding to all Southeast Asian markets early on can be a real
Although there are a lot of people in Southeast Asia, it is not a
cohesive and coherent market. As a small company it is hard to image
expanding to the whole of Southeast Asia from Day One. So either you
have to go global or have a real regional strategy.
In case you have cracked regional expansion early on, then it is a
great competitive advantage. Different countries in the region have
different languages and different regulatory and legal compliances,
but if you are able to get people from your company to other regions
or if you are able to enable fruitful partnerships with already
established players in other markets, then it is possible to go
about your regional expansion. This is exactly what some of our
portfolio companies are doing
“Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist”
- a must read book for entrepreneurs says Douglas. It is the same
drive to stay smart that makes Douglas skate to where the puck is
going to be.
More about Douglas’ work here
http://www.expara.com Do reach out to him if you are
expanding your business to Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia.
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