Chennai, NFAPost: Singapore-based fintech and legal-tech firm Qapita has raised a seed round totalling $1.8 million. This round is led by Vulcan Capital and several prominent early stage investors including Alto Partners Multi Family Office, Atin Kukreja (CEO of Rippledot Capital), Koh Boon Hwee, K3 Ventures, KDV Holdings, Mission Holdings and several Northstar Group Partners including Patrick Walujo.
In addition to managing capitalisation tables (cap tables) and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), Qapita will also enable digital issuance of ESOPs and shares. The firm has office in Hyderabad, and provides fully-featured digital equity management software.
Qapita was founded in 2019 by CEO Ravi Ravulaparthi, COO Lakshman Gupta, and CTO Vamsee Mohan, who recognised the inefficiencies in private market ownership and transactions, coupled with the need to digitally disrupt this sector. The founders hold decades of experience in investment banking, corporate finance and software engineering respectively, working across markets like India, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
The founders are alumni of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, Indian School of Business (ISB) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Chennai.
Qapita provides digital equity management tools for private companies, particularly startups. Its platform, QapMap, is designed to enable capitalisation table management, employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) management, and digital ESOP issuance with the aim of eventually enabling digital share issuance for companies across the region.
Through the Qapita platform, fast-growth private companies and startups can record and manage equity ownership and ESOPs seamlessly and accurately, which can then be accessed by different stakeholders, from investors, to founders, and to employees, based on appropriate access levels. Companies will also be able to issue digital equity awards and grants on the platform.
Speaking on the fundraise, Qapita CEO and Co-Founder Ravi Ravulaparthi said, “We launched the company seeing the opportunity to tap into the rapid growth of startups, angel investments and employee ownership in Southeast Asia and India.”
“Having worked alongside multiple founders and startups during their fundraising journeys, we recognised the huge gaps that exist in digitising ownership records. If records are systematically digitised today, then transactions can be digitised in the future. We also believe the platform will encourage more employee equity ownership in startups. The ESOP value proposition should be as simple as a pay slip,” he added.
The startup ecosystem in India and Southeast Asia is thriving and growing at a rapid pace, with capital increasingly being allocated to up-and-coming players. An increase in funding is significant, as more companies build on the opportunity to reach growth stages or become attractive acquisition targets.
While global venture funding dipped 17.5% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019, internet startups in Southeast Asian snagged $7.6 billion in the first half of the year, up 7% from the same period in 2018, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2019 report by Google, Temasek Holdings, and Bain & Company. Almost $37 billion was pumped into the region’s internet economy between 2015 and the first half of 2019, and it was close to hitting $40 billion and $50 billion in funding, the report noted. 2019 was a milestone year for the Indian venture capital industry, with $10 billion in capital deployed, which is 55% higher than 2018, and deal volume increased by 30% according to Bain & Company.
Commenting on the investment, Tommy Teo of Vulcan Capital said, “Qapita is setting out to build a best-in-breed equity management platform for private companies and startups. The platform will empower all equity stakeholders to digitally manage their holdings in this region, where each country has its own unique regulatory landscape. With high growth companies remaining private for longer, we believe digital equity management and liquidity solutions to be a multi-billion dollar opportunity, and are excited to embark on this journey as a partner.”
The fresh funding will be used to strengthen and build the team, accelerate product development and build its client base.
Qapita is also building digital share issuance capabilities on the platform, which will enable firms to issue shares digitally. Qapita has offices in India and Singapore, and will initially serve customers based in Singapore, India and Indonesia before expanding into other markets.