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Former GroupM and IMG heads launch venture firm, targets D2C sector

Former GroupM and IMG heads launch venture firm, targets D2C sector

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Former GroupM and IMG senior executives, Toh Jin Wei and Simon Nichols, have banded together to launch a new venture firm named “The-Wolfpack”. The firm aims to help early-stage Asia Pacific (APAC) startups reach customers with smarter media and experience-first strategies.

The-Wolfpack’s debut fund titled “The Wolfpack Pioneer VCC” is said to focus on early-stage investments in the direct-to-consumer sector. The team is now in a stage of deployment with an eye on eight to 10 companies.

Leveraging on the team’s hub in Singapore, The-Wolfpack aims to be the venture partner of choice for startups in the consumer goods, leisure and media sectors, which need strategic capital to drive growth in nuanced markets across Southeast Asia and Australia.

Prior to launching the firm, Toh (pictured left) was senior vice president, head of strategic partnerships Asia at event management agency IMG Events. He helmed the role for four years, according to his LinkedIn. Toh was also previously managing director Asia at GroupM ESP, the entertainment and sports marketing consultancy within GroupM. Nichols (pictured right) was also previously with GroupM, where he helmed the role of managing director, APAC, GroupM Entertainment for more than five years. Prior to The-Wolfpack, Nichols was the managing director of Hong Kong-based venture capital, ai love.   

The leadership team at The-Wolfpack also consists of Tan Kok Chin, who will lead investor relations and placemaking efforts. According to The-Wolfpack, Tan (pictured centre) brings almost 20 years of placemaking and experiential design expertise to the team. He has also worked on major projects with brands such as Capitaland, Raffles Hotel, Marina Bay Sands, and Jewel.

Although newly-launched, The-Wolfpack said its debut fund is already fully-subscribed, and it is looking to raise a second fund targeted at SG$20 million and above. The firm also has its eye on a Thailand expansion, and the team is identifying opportunities to bring their portfolio into the market and invest in early-stage companies there. 

The-Wolfpack said its team will work closely with its founders to “scale strategically with impact” by leveraging on the founders’ industry network with key C-suite decision-makers in the region. Investments are also said to be made with portfolio synergy in mind to give companies opportunities to collaborate and cross-sell with others. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out for additional information.

Toh, co-founder and managing partner of The Wolfpack, said the firm is launched to help startup founders close “a critical gap” for startups in the region. “Most venture capital firms will tell you to focus on one thing and do that really well, but we’ve built enough major consumer brands to know that’s not enough to succeed in complex markets across APAC. Products and services need to deliver experiences, inspire community advocates and create media ecosystems,” he explained.

Vit Suthithavil, managing director of Panther Entertainment (a TRUE Corporation Company), president of Brite Panther (a CP Group Company) and The-Wolfpack’s strategic Thailand advisor, said tackling the APAC region is no easy feat for direct-to-consumer companies. “You need a 360 approach to win over individual markets here - this means having a sound rollout strategy that captures local nuances and access to the right media, events, digital and placemaking partners is critical,” he said, adding that this where The-Wolfpack is able to bring value to the companies.

Glenn Sugita, co-founder and managing partner of Northstar Advisors and mentor to The-Wolfpack, added: “The-Wolfpack is the missing piece direct-to-consumer startups need. Having worked closely with Toh and Nichols over the years, I’ve seen firsthand how their sharp on-the-ground insights and local connections with decision-makers can pivot companies to new heights.”

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