Kenji Minefuji, Manager at the Business Innovation Group of Mitsubishi Electric, and his team go through 100 to 200 proposals from startups every month.
Each proposal is unique, but they share one thing in common—they hope that ME Innovation Fund (MEIF), a 5-billion-yen (US$38.27 million) corporate venture capital (CVC) fund set up by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and venture capital firm Global Brain, will invest in their business.
“We like companies with passionate founders,” Minefuji says, referring to one of the criteria the fund looks at when investing in companies. The fund has one main objective: to realize promising new startups that can collaborate with Mitsubishi Electric to uplift the quality of life for people.
Although the fund, launched in January 2022, is considered a new vehicle in the startup ecosystem, Minefuji believes that it has what it takes to be successful.
Industry Knowledge and Instant Chemistry
In the world of startups, entrepreneurs are often looking for investors who share the same mindset, understand industry pain points and can help them grow.
One of the companies in which MEIF has invested is Singapore-based software startup FTV LABS, a leading provider of Field Service Management (FSM) software KEGMIL. The startup empowers field service organizations with smart automation and insights to improve their operational efficiency, service performance and knowledge retention, which leads to greater customer satisfaction and profitability.
Minefuji is confident that FTV LABS has the best offering in Southeast Asia, combining industry knowledge, cutting-edge technology and a highly capable team that can help drive digital transformation across multinational corporations.
FTV LABS Cofounder and CEO Kelvin Ong says one of the key things that attracted him to the team at MEIF was their knowledge of the market and industry.
“We are operating in a niche space, but it has huge market potential. They understood our business, the industry challenges; there was instant chemistry,” Ong says. “We believe they are the right partner to help us achieve our goal of becoming the leading service provider of field service technology.”
Ong is also impressed by the proactive approach and level of support he receives from MEIF and Mitsubishi Electric. He says that even though there are many CVC funds in the startup ecosystem, not many offer the level of support that MEIF does.
The Right Support
MEIF has helped the company overcome various challenges, including matching FTV LABS with the right customer profile to validate its ideas.
“As a startup, we have limited resources and need to stay focused on refining our product and value proposition for the right customers.
This is where Mitsubishi Electric fits in as our ideal customer. They gave us access to the various business units within Mitsubishi Electric so that we could test assumptions and gather user feedback. It would be nearly impossible for us to do this on our own,” Ong says. “They helped us push for meetings with the internal stakeholders and push for replies; they worked as if they were our internal managers.”
Minefuji believes the software company has huge growth potential. With Mitsubishi Electric’s scale and reach, FTV LABS’ solutions can be applied across the firm’s operations globally and adopted by other customers worldwide.
“We look forward to more collaboration opportunities with MEIF and other forward-looking field service organizations as we aim to deliver the best product for the industry and drive greater value for our customers,” Ong says.
And ultimately, this ties back to the main objective of the fund. Minefuji sums up, “Our hope is to be chosen by great startups. If we were to produce a unicorn company along the way, that would be a plus.”