As somebody who covers Southeast Asia startups and funding tales, the very best phrase I can consider to explain 2021 is “whoa!” This was the 12 months that world buyers not solely began to pay shut consideration to the area’s tech ecosystems, but in addition started placing actual cash into them.
Backed by worldwide LPs, Southeast Asia-focused enterprise companies like Alpha JWC, AC Ventures and Jungle Ventures raised their largest funds but.
The Ken reported that American companies like A16z, Valar Ventures, Hedosophia and Goodwater Capital, have been additionally establishing (or planning) regional places of work as exits like Seize and Sea’s preliminary public choices fueled curiosity in Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystems. A complete report from Golden Gate Ventures additionally forecasted a report variety of exits, due partly to a rise in B and C rounds.
I at all times really feel a bit foolish utilizing the time period “Southeast Asia” as a result of the area is so giant and complicated. It’s the best possibility after I’m attempting to be succinct, however Southeast Asia consists of 11 international locations, and clearly there are large variations between, say, Singapore, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.
As a worldwide monetary middle, one may argue that Singapore’s startup ecosystem is in a class of its personal when in comparison with its neighbors. And Indonesia particularly warrants particular consideration, because the fourth-largest financial system on this planet and probably the most populated Southeast Asian nation with 273.5 million folks. Each international locations produced a good quantity of unicorns in 2021. In Singapore, as an illustration, Ninja Van, Carousell, Carro and Nium have been amongst startups that hit unicorn standing.
Whereas Singaporean startups are inclined to concentrate on different Southeast Asian international locations (or, in Nium’s case, america and Latin America), Indonesia-based founders, alternatively, may need mid- or long-term plans for worldwide enlargement, however many of the ones I talked to plan to concentrate on increasing within the nation for at the least the subsequent 12 months or so. Not solely is Indonesia very giant, however it is usually geographically complicated, with greater than 17,000 islands, of which about 6,000 are inhabited. Startups are inclined to launch within the Better Jakarta space earlier than increasing into different Tier 1 cities like Bandung and Surabaya however many are eyeing smaller cities, particularly fintech and e-commerce startups.
Listed below are a couple of sectors that took off in 2021, and are price keeping track of in 2022:
A crop of funding apps, many geared toward millennial and first-time retail buyers, raised small early-stage rounds at the start of 2021, solely to shortly decide up a lot bigger follow-on funding a couple of months later. Some examples embody Indonesia-based crypto-focused Pintu, robo-advisor Bibit, Ajaib and Pluang, and Singapore-based Syfe.
Whereas charges of retail funding are nonetheless comparatively low in Indonesia, that quantity is rising due to elevated curiosity in monetary planning throughout the pandemic and the recognition of inventory influencers, regardless of issues in regards to the legitimacy of some.
Indonesian SME-focused startups dig deeper into fintech
In response to authorities figures, there are 62 million SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) in Indonesia, however a number of founders instructed me that is seemingly an underestimate, particularly since family-owned companies or solo entrepreneurs are usually undercounted. No matter their actual quantity, SMEs, lots of which use Excel spreadsheets or paper ledgers to deal with their accounting, current a profitable alternative for tech startups.
Most notably, BukuWarung and BukuKas, two competing bookkeeping apps, each raised important quantities of funding this 12 months. The 2 startups are related in that they’re initially centered on serving to SMEs digitize, however finally plan to develop their product roster into monetary providers like working capital loans, utilizing knowledge customers have already entered into their software program to guage creditworthiness.
Another startups that concentrate on SMEs embody earned wage entry and payroll administration platform GajiGesa and Wagely.
Individuals who dwell in Indonesia’s largest cities have a wide selection of e-commerce platforms to selected from, however the choice is way much less in additional distant areas. That is partly as a consequence of a fragmented logistics infrastructure (however startups are additionally engaged on that, together with SiCepat, Advoctics, Kargo and Waresix), which suggests it’s expensive and time-consuming to obtain items.
That’s the place social commerce startups like Tremendous, Evermos and KitaBeli are available in, hoping to replicated the success of Pinduoduo in China and Meesho in India. All concentrate on each day requirements like fast-moving client items and meals, and make the most of the social commerce mannequin to make the availability chain extra environment friendly and inexpensive, since orders are made in batches by individuals who dwell in the identical communities. In that sense, they may also be described as being at the least partially logistics startups.
Startups that purchase small e-commerce manufacturers, like Thrasio, have been attracting numerous funding in america and Europe for a number of years. However e-commerce aggregators took a short while longer to achieve Southeast Asia.
This 12 months, two e-commerce aggregators formally launched there with enterprise capital funding, and each raised follow-on rounds a couple of months later. Whereas many e-commerce aggregators concentrate on Amazon sellers, Una Manufacturers refers to itself as “sector-agnostic.” There is no such thing as a dominant market throughout APAC, so its developed a system to search out manufacturers throughout platforms like Tokopedia, Lazada, Shopee, Rakuten and eBay. However, Rainforest focuses on Asia-based Amazon sellers, however differentiates from different aggregators with its purpose of turning into the net model of client items conglomerate Newell Manufacturers. With so many e-commerce sellers primarily based in Asia, anticipate each Una Manufacturers and Rainforest to develop, and different aggregators to launch.