Today, Ruvento is announcing a new $25 million seed fund for hardware startups in need of capital from Singapore, China and the U.S. The fund, managed by Slava Solonitsyn and Alex Toh, will write 70 percent of its checks between $100k and $500k. The rest of the capital will be reserved for follow-on investments of up to $2 million.
Ruvento is not the first investor to take a cross-boarder approach to the hardware space. HAX, among others, has a large accelerator presence in Shenzhen. Meanwhile, it also operates a separate program in the United States for post-accelerator startups that already have their preliminary supply chains figured out.
Ruvento is particularly interested in infrastructure hardware. Specifically, the team believes there is a lot of untapped potential around IOT and sensor integrations. The firm also cites commercial applications of drones and robotics as areas of interest and plans to keep its eyes on startups creatively leveraging advancements in virtual reality and augmented reality to solve problems.
“Hardware shouldn’t mean gimmicks,” noted Slava Solonitsyn, managing partner of Ruvento. “We are not investing in things you don’t need.”
The innate properties of Asia will play an integral role in Ruvento’s investment strategy. In a place like Singapore for example, 12 percent of the limited land mass is used for roads. This is a huge incentive for investment in alternate methods of transportation like cycling and connected cars that is unique to the region. Singapore was the first testing ground of nuTonomy, a self-driving car company that beat Uber to real-world road tests of autonomous technologies.
“We see startups in Asia already putting innovative last-mile delivery options on the streets because there are fewer regulatory hurdles,” added Solonitsyn.
At the start, Ruvento was fighting for footing in larger $2+ million syndicated seed rounds. The firm was an investor in a larger post-seed round for Boom Technology, a frontier startup looking to build supersonic jets to serve the masses. Some time after that deal, the team decided that Ruvento’s sweet spot would be the first or second money into smaller rounds.
Ruvento has already written checks to over 14 companies from this fund. Some of the companies like Boom and Prenav seem to line up with the aforementioned thesis, but it seems that Solonitsyn isn’t afraid to allow for some wiggle room. The firm also invested in Glance Clock and Naked Labs, which could be characterized more as consumer bets.
Prenav, an early Ruvento bet, is building precise autonomous drones for commercial applications.
On the LP front, Ruvento is backed by family office money. The firm agreed to an eight year fund lifecycle with the potential for a two year extension.