Angel-investment fund Buko Ventures announced that it is investing in Acad Arena, the Philippines’ leading campus esports program.
Founded in 2019 by Ariane Lim, Justin Banusing and Kevin Hoang, AcadArena works with schools and student organizations to elevate esports in campuses around the country. Through this, it hopes to empower student enthusiasts and prepare them for careers in the industry. (Read: Lyceum Bachelor of Science in Esports program details revealed)
So far, AcadArena has engaged with over 300 schools and has had over 30,000 students participating in events using their services. At the same time, it has also engaged in significant marketing partnerships, with companies such as Globe and Twitch, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Buko Ventures, on the other hand, is a newly launched angel investment fund started by Andrew Koger, founder and CEO of Goodwork.ph; Saul Molla Cuesta, founder and CEO of FlowerStore Group; Angel Ramiro, Lazada Philippines VP and Head of Lazmall; Carlos Otermin Barrera COO of Lazada Philippines and EVP of the Lazada Group, and George Padin, CEO and co-founder of Abstract Digital.
The fund focuses on supporting new businesses, in some cases, even providing the first investment for a new venture. All this with investment terms that are kept very simple so that the founders can focus on building their business.
What helps set Buko Ventures apart from other investment funds is that it’s very open to creative, untraditional business models that other investors might shy away from.
“We believe that the Philippines has so much potential to see technology and entrepreneurship open up exciting new opportunities in the economy,” said Kroger to Business Mirror. “Across Southeast Asia, the Philippines arguably has the biggest potential upside to develop a very dynamic startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to help with Buko Ventures.”
In a post on its official newsletter, Buko Ventures stated that the AcadArena’s founding team “gives us a lot of confidence,” citing the founder’s previous experience in the esports industry. Lim having helped kickstart the campus esports movement while serving as an executive at Garena. Banusing, a pioneer in the esports community at the University of Washington (UW), worked at ESPN’s new esports department when he was a student and served as Managing Editor for Gaming for the Inquirer. Finally, Hoang served as the scholastic program manager at Twitch and is considered one of the leading experts in on-campus esports in the industry.
Buko Ventures also cited the esports’ potential for growth, citing that the industry was still in its “very early days” as a formal industry. It cited figures from an analysis by Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Alex Taussig stating that, while esports was the 2nd most popular sport in the U.S. based on viewership, it only generates one-tenth of the revenue of traditional sports. (Read: Fighting in the time of COVID: the problems of online play and how both the community has adapted)
In addition, it also cited the improving access to affordable mobile data in the Philippines, which should help accelerate the growth of online gaming and esports – especially in the provinces. With traditional school sports already a massive category in the local sports industry, esports should also develop in the same manner in the country. With this in mind, Buko Ventures stated that it was excited to “back the leading company powering this movement in the Philippines” and support AcadArena’s initiatives to build campus esports programs in the country.
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