Buy now, pay later startup Kredivo doubles its debt facility from Victory Park Capital to $200M

Kredivo announced today it has secured another $100 million debt facility from Victory Park Capital (VPC). This doubles the Indonesian digital lending and credit platform’s total warehouse financing facility from VPC to $200 million. The first round was closed in July 2020.

Kredivo is operated by Singapore-based fintech FinAccel. This is the largest loan facility it has raised so far, and is VPC’s biggeast debt commitment to a fintech company outside of the United States and Europe, as well as its only investment in Southeast Asia. Kredivo will use the debt facility to help achieve its goal of serving 10 million customers in Indonesia.

Other notable startups that have received debt financing from VPC include Razor Group, factory 14, Konfio and Elevate.

Kredivo has more than three million customers and offers two main types of lending products: zero interest 30-day ‘buy now, pay later’ financing for e-commerce and offline purchases, and three-, six- and 12-month installment loans with an interest rate of 2.6% a month, or a maximum annual rate of 53.36%. Kredivo chief executive officer Akshay Garg told TechCrunch that its ‘buy now, pay later’ services are typically used for small-value online purchases, while installment loans are used to finance bigger transactions, like laptops, home renovation or medical care.

While ‘buy now, pay later’ services like Klarna, Afterpay or Affirm offer convenience to customers in the United States or Europe, in emerging markets it also serves as a tool to build credit, especially in countries that have low credit card penetration, Garg said.

“Credit is one of the largest and most complex areas of the financial services ecosystem and the fact is that Indonesia is deeply underserved on that equation,” he said. Most banks only provide secured lending, like home or car loans, and unsecured lending is rare. Garg said there are only eight million credit card holders in Indonesia, which has a population of 270.6 million, and that number has not changed in 13 years.

One of the reasons for Indonesia’s very low credit card penetration rate is because banks are reluctant to give unsecured loans, especially to younger customers.

“What we’re solving is less a convenience problem and more an access problem. We’re putting unsecured credit, or the ability to buy on credit, in the hands of urban millennials for the first time, simply because banks are just not providing them access to credit cards,” said Garg.

He added that Kredivo’s effective risk-scoring model allows to charge low interest rates, and its non-performing loan ratio is in the low single-digits, despite the economic impact of COVID-19, which Garg described as a “trial by fire.”

Like credit cards from banks, Kredivo also reports customers’ loan histories to Indonesia’s credit bureaus, so they can build credit scores. “What we’re doing is a building Indonesia’s first real digital credit bureau from the ground up, and I think our risk metrics show that this is not just for the sake of some funky innovation, but something that is delivering real performance,” Garg said.

In a statement, VPC partner Gordon Watson said, “We have been impressed with the resilience and growth of the business and look forward to deepening our partnership with Kredivo. The company presents a unique combination of growth, scale, risk management and financial inclusion in one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world.”

#asia, #bnpl, #buy-now-pay-later, #credit, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #kredivo, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #victory-park-capital


Automotive marketplace Carro hits unicorn status with $360M Series C led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2

Carro, one of the largest automotive marketplaces in Southeast Asia, announced it has hit unicorn valuation after raising a $360 million Series C led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Other participants include insurance giant MSIG and Indonesian-based funds like EV Growth, Provident Growth and Indies Capital. About 90% of vehicles sold through Carro are secondhand, and it offers services that cover the entire lifecycle of a car, from maintenance to when it is broken down and recycled for parts.

Founded in 2015, Carro started as an online marketplace for cars, before expanding into more verticals. Co-founder and chief executive officer Aaron Tan told TechCrunch that, roughly speaking, the company’s operations are divided into three sections: wholesale, retail and fintech. Its wholesale business works with car dealers who want to purchase inventory, while its retail side sells to consumers. Its fintech operation offers products for both, including B2C car loans, auto insurance and B2B working capital loans.

Carro’s last funding announcement was in August 2019, when it said it had extended its Series B to $90 million. The company’s latest funding will be used to fund acquisitions, expand its financial services portfolio and develop its AI capabilities, which Carro uses to showcase cars online, develop pricing models and determine how much to charge insurance policyholders.

It also plans to expand retail services in its main markets: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Carro currently employs about 1,000 people across the four countries and claims its revenue grew more than 2.5x during the financial year ending March 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped Carro’s business because people wanted their own vehicles to avoid public transportation and became more receptive to shopping for cars online. Those factors also helped competitors like OLX Autos and Carsome fare well during the pandemic.

The adoption of electric vehicles across Southeast Asia has resulted in a new tailwind for Carro, because people who buy an EV usually want to sell off their combustion engine vehicles. Carro is currently talking to some of the largest electric vehicle countries in the world that want to launch in Southeast Asia.

“For every car someone typically buys in Southeast Asia, there’s always a trade-in. Where do cars go, right? We are a marketplace, but on a very high level, what we’re doing is reusing and recycling. That’s a big part in the environmental sustainability of the business, and something that sets us apart of other players in the region,” Tan said.

Cars typically stay in Carro’s inventory for less than 60 days. Its platform uses computer vision and sound technology to replicate the experience of inspecting a vehicle in-person. When someone clicks on a Carro listing, an AI bot automatically engages with them, providing more details about the cost of the car and answering questions. They also see a 360-degree view of the vehicle, its interior and can virtually start the engine to see how it sounds. Listings also provide information about defects and inspection reports.

Since many customers still want to get an in-person look before finalizing a purchase, Carro recently launched a beta product called Showroom Anywhere. Currently available in Singapore, it allows people to unlock Carro cars parked throughout the city, using QR codes, so they can inspect it at any time of the day, without a salesperson around. The company plans to add test driving to Showroom Anywhere.

“As a tech company, our job is to make sure we automate everything we can,” said Tan. “That’s the goal of the company and you can only assume that our cost structure and our revenue structure will get better along the years. We expect greater margin improvement and a lot more in cost reduction.”

Pricing is fixed, so shoppers don’t have to engage in haggling. Carro determines prices by using machine-learning models that look at details about a vehicle, including its make, model and mileage, and data from Carro’s transactions as well as market information (for example, how much of a particular vehicle is currently available for sale). Carro’s prices are typically in the middle of the market’s range.

Cars come with a three or seven-day moneyback guarantee and 30-day warranty. Once a customer decides to buy a car, they can opt to apply for loans and insurance through Carro’s fintech platform. Tan said Carro’s loan book is about five years old, almost as old as the startup itself, and is currently about $200 million.

Carro’s insurance is priced based on the policyholders driving behavior as tracked by sensors placed in their cars. This allows Carro to build a profile of how someone drives and the likelihood that they have an accident or other incident. For example, someone will get better pricing if they typically stick to speed limits.

“It sounds a bit futuristic,” said Tan. “But it’s something that’s been done in the United States for many years, like GEICO and a whole bunch of other insurers,” including Root Insurance, which recently went public.

Tan said MSIG’s investment in Carro is a “statement that we are really trying to triple down in insurance, because an insurer has so much linkage with what we do. The reason that MSIG is a good partner is that, like ourselves, they believe a lot in data and the difference in what we call ‘new age’ insurance, or data-driven insurance.”

Carro is also expanding its after-sale services, including Carro Care, in all four of its markets. Its after-sale services reach to the very end of a vehicle’s lifecycle and its customers include workshops around the world. For example, if a Toyota Corolla breaks down in Singapore, but its engine is still usable, it might be extracted and shipped to a repair shop in Nairobi, and the rest of its parts recycled.

“One thing I always ask in management meetings, is tell me where do cars go to die in Indonesia? Where do cars go to die in Thailand? There has to be a way, so if there is no way, we’re going to find a way,” said Tan.

In a statement, SoftBank Investment Advisers managing partner Greg Moon said, “Powered by AI, Carro’s technology platform provides consumers with full-stack services and transparency throughout the car ownership process. We are delighted to partner with Aaron and the Carro team to support their ambition to expand into new markets and use AI-powered technology to make the car buying process smarter, simpler and safer.”

#asia, #automative-marketplace, #car-marketplace, #carro, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #malaysia, #recent-funding, #singapore, #softbank-vision-fund-2, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #thailand, #used-cars


‘BTS Meal’ Frenzy Forces Some McDonald’s Outlets in Indonesia to Close

Crowds of delivery drivers responding to a rush of online orders violated safe distancing measures as they flooded unprepared restaurants.

#bts-music-group, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #fast-food-industry, #indonesia, #internal-essential, #jakarta-indonesia, #k-pop, #mcdonalds-corporation


BukuWarung, a fintech for Indonesian MSMEs, scores $60M Series A led by Valar and Goodwater

BukuWarung, a fintech focused on Indonesia’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), announced today it has raised a $60 million Series A. The oversubscribed round was led by Valar Ventures, marking the firm’s first investment in Indonesia, and Goodwater Capital. The Jakarta-based startup claims this is the largest Series A round ever raised by a startup focused on services for MSMEs. BukuWarung did not disclose its valuation, but sources tell TechCrunch it is estimated to be between $225 million to $250 million.

Other participants included returning backers and angel investors like Aldi Haryopratomo, former chief executive officer of payment gateway GoPay, Klarna co-founder Victor Jacobsson and partners from SoftBank and Trihill Capital.

Founded in 2019, BukuWarung’s target market is the more than 60 million MSMEs in Indonesia, according to data from the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs. These businesses contribute about 61% of the country’s gross domestic product and employ 97% of its workforce.

BukuWarung’s services, including digital payments, inventory management, bulk transactions and a Shopify-like e-commerce platform called Tokoko, are designed to digitize merchants that previously did most of their business offline (many of its clients started taking online orders during the COVID-19 pandemic). It is building what it describes as an “operating system” for MSMEs and currently claims more than 6.5 million registered merchant in 750 Indonesian cities, with most in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas. It says it has processed about $1.4 billion in annualized payments so far, and is on track to process over $10 billion in annualized payments by 2022.

BukuWarung’s new round brings its total funding to $80 million. The company says its growth in users and payment volumes has been capital efficient, and that more than 90% of its funds raised have not been spent. It plans to add more MSME-focused financial services, including lending, savings and insurance, to its platform.

BukuWarung’s new funding announcement comes four months after its previous one, and less than a month after competitor BukuKas disclosed it had raised a $50 million Series B. Both started out as digital bookkeeping apps for MSMEs before expanding into financial services and e-commerce tools.

When asked how BukuWarung plans to continue differentiating from BukuKas, co-founder and CEO Abhinay Peddisetty told TechCrunch, “We don’t see this space as a winner takes all, our focus is on building the best products for MSMEs as proven by our execution on our payments and accounting, shown by massive growth in payments TPV as we’re 10x bigger than the nearest player in this space.”

He added, “We have already run successful lending experiments with partners in fintech and banks and are on track to monetize our merchants backed by our deep payments, accounting and other data that we collect.”

BukuWarung’s new funding will be used to double its current workforce of 150, located in Indonesia, Singapore and India, to 300 and develop BukuWarung’s accounting, digital payments and commerce products, including a payments infrastructure that will include QR payments and other services.

#apps, #asia, #bukuwarung, #digital-bookkeeping, #e-commerce, #finance, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #msmes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Wagely, an Indonesian earned wage access and financial services platform, raises $5.6M

A group photo of Wagely's founding team: Tobias Fischer, Sasanadi Ruka and Kevin Hausburg

Wagely founders (from l to r): Tobias Fischer, Sasanadi Ruka and Kevin Hausburg

Earned wage access (EWA) platforms that allow workers to withdraw their earnings on demand instead of waiting until payday are proliferating around the world. Today, Indonesian EWA startup wagely announced it has raised $5.6 million in strategic funding, led by Integra Partners (formerly known as Dymon Asia Ventures). Other investors included the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Ventures, PT Triputra Investindo Arya, Global Founders Capital, Trihill Capital, 1982 Ventures and Willy Swandi Dharma, former president director of insurance company PT Asuransi Adira Dinamika.

Founded in 2020 by alumni of two of Southeast Asia’s largest tech companies, wagely expects to reach more than 250,000 users this year. Chief executive officer Tobias Fischer was former regional lending program manager at Grab Financial Services Asia, while chief technology officer Sasanadi Rukua served as vice president of engineering at Tokopedia.

Fischer told TechCrunch that after working at financial services companies in Southeast Asia, he and Ruka saw that “managing cashflow is the most pressing everyday issue for lower- and middle-income Indonesians.”

While the pandemic exacerbated financial hardships, Fischer said more than 75% of Indonesians already struggled to cover unexpected expenses between paychecks. Many borrow from family or friends, but if that option is unavailable, they may turn to payday lenders who can charge more than 360% annualized percentage rates, or pay overdraft and late fees to their banks until their next paycheck.

“This is the start of a vicious and costly debt cycle that has a long-lasting negative impact on individual financial well-being, which in turn impacts businesses with higher turnover, lower productivity and more employee loans,” Fischer said.

On average, more than 50% of employees at wagely’s enterprise clients use it multiple times throughout the month to track their daily earnings and access their earned wages. The company’s ultimate goal is “to build a holistic financial wellness platform for lower- and middle-income workers” that includes other financial services, including savings, insurance and smart spending products, Fischer said.

More companies around the world are allowing workers to pick when they get paid. Some notable EWA platforms include Gusto’s Flexible Pay; DailyPay, which recently hit unicorn status; Wagestream; Minu and Even. In Indonesia, wagely’s competitors include GajiGesa and Gajiku.

Fischer said wagely “created the earned wage access category in Indonesia,” and is the market leader with more than 50 large companies, including state-owned enterprises and multi-national conglomerates. Its new funding will be used to increase wagely’s sales team in order to close more enterprise deals. Wagely’s current customers include PT Bentoel Internasional Investama Tbk (British American Tobacco); PT Supra Boga Lestari Tbk (Ranch Market); beauty and wellness company PT Mustika Ratu Tbk; and renewable energy group PT Kencana Energi Lestari Tbk.

In a press statement, Wilson Maknawi, president director at PT Kencana Energi Lestari TBK, said, “wagely offers our employees financial stability in times of uncertainty. It is incredibly important and a crucial step for the long-term resilience of our business. With no changes to our payroll process, wagely’s solution has proven to increase our business savings and helped our employees to avoid predatory loans while providing savings and budget tools that increase their financial literacy.”

#asia, #earned-wage-access, #financial-inclusion, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #wagely


Indonesian healthcare startup Prixa raises $3M led by MDI and TPTF

Indonesian healthcare startup Prixa has raised $3 million led by MDI Ventures and the Trans-Pacific Technology Fund (TPTF), with participation from returning investors including Siloam Hospitals Group.

This brings Prixa’s total raised to $4.5 million since it launched in 2019. Co-founder and chief executive officer James Roring M.D., told TechCrunch in an email that the new funding will enable Prixa to scale its platform and customer base. Prixa uses a B2B model, partnering with healthcare payers like insurance providers and corporations. Through its B2B customers, it currently serves about 10 million patients.

Prixa currently works with four major insurers and has six additional insurers in its short-term pipeline. It also works with Indonesia’s largest third-party administrators, Roring said, allowing it to reach more policyholders.

Prixa’s platform includes a digital health assistant to answer patients’ questions, telemedicine consultations, pharmacy deliveries and on-demand lab diagnostics. Usage increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as more patients sought online consultations for primary care.

Other telehealth startups in Indonesia include Halodoc and Alodokter (which is also backed by MDI). Both connect patients directly with healthcare and insurance providers. Roring said Prixa differentiates by focusing on greater cost control for healthcare payers and positioning itself as a digital primary care platform.

“By symptomatically managing patients outside of tertiary care facilities and caring for chronic non-communicable diseases online, Prixa is able to effectively reduce the amount of outpatient claims and downstream inpatient cost incurred by healthcare payers,” Roring said. “Additionally, the combination of a growing and robust medical database, as well as proven clinical guidelines, contribute to cost efficiency and service optimization through the standardization of treatment by our healthcare providers.”

In press statement about the funding, Aditia Henri Narendra, MDI Ventures’ general manager of legal and corporate communication, said, “MDI co-led this financing because Prixa has demonstrated its ability to support insurance companies and hospitals in making medical services more accessible and affordable through its AI telemedicine platform.”

#asia, #fundings-exits, #healthcare, #healthtech, #indonesia, #prixa, #prixa-ai, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #telemedicine


Line launches digital banking platform in Indonesia

Line Corporation, best known for its messaging app, launched a digital banking platform in Indonesia today. This means Japan-based Line Corp. now offers banking services in three of its biggest overseas markets: Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.

Line Corp.’s Indonesian banking platform is the result of a partnership the company struck in 2018 with PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Hana ZBank. Line Corp. agreed to acquire 20% of PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia, making it the bank’s second-largest shareholder, and said it would work on online banking services, including deposit accounts, microcredit products, and remittance and payment services.

According to a report by Momentum Works, downloads of digital banking apps in Indonesia grew 7% in 2020, with apps from established banks like BTPN Jenius, OCBC Nyala and Permata leading. But Momentum Works also observed that “many Indonesian digital bank users tend to download multiple digital bank applications and explore around,” so a dominant player hasn’t emerged yet. Major tech companies like Sea Group, Grab and Gojek are also working on their own neobank services.

Line introduced banking services to its Thai users last October, as part of a joint venture with Kasikorn Vision Company, a subsidiary of Kasikorn Bank. In Taiwan, its subsidiary Line Bank Taiwan was granted a banking license earlier this year by the Financial Supervisory Commission.

#apps, #asia, #hana-bank, #indonesia, #line, #line-bank, #line-corp, #line-corporation, #southeast-asia, #tc


By working with home entrepreneurs, Jakarta-based DishServe is creating an even more asset-light version of cloud kitchens

Cloud kitchens are already meant to reduce the burden of infrastructure on food and beverage brands by providing them with centralized facilities to prepare meals for delivery. This means the responsibility falls on cloud kitchen operators to make sure they have enough locations to meet demand from F&B clients, while ensuring fast deliveries to end customers.

Indonesian network DishServe has figured out a way to make running cloud kitchen networks even more asset-light. Launched by budget hotel startup RedDoorz’s former chief operating officer, DishServe partners with home kitchens instead of renting or buying its own facilities. It currently works with almost 100 home kitchens in Jakarta, and focuses on small- to medium-sized F&B brands, serving as their last-mile delivery network. Launched in fall 2020, DishServe has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Insignia Ventures Partners.

DishServe was founded in September 2020 by Rishabh Singhi. After leaving RedDoorz at the end of 2019, Singhi moved to New York, with plans to launch a new hospitality startup that could quickly convert any commercial space into members’ clubs like Soho House. The nascent company had already created sample pre-fabricated rooms and was about to start leasing property when the COVID-19 lockdown hit New York City in March 2020. Singhi said he went on a “soul searching spree” for a couple of months, deciding what to do and if he should return to Southeast Asia.

He realized that since many restaurants had to switch to online orders and delivery to survive the pandemic, this could potentially be an equalizer for small F&B brands that compete with larger players, like McDonald’s. But lockdowns meant that a lot of people had to pick from a limited range of restaurants close to where they lived. At the same time, Singhi saw that there were a lot of people who wanted to make more money, but couldn’t work outside of their homes, like stay-at-home moms.

DishServe was created to connect all three sides: F&B brands that want to expand without spending a lot of money, home entrepreneurs and diners hungry for more food options. Its other founders include Stefanie Irma, an early RedDoorz employee who served as its country head for the Philippines; serial entrepreneur Vinav Bhanawat; and Fathhi Mohamed, who also co-founded Sri Lankan on-demand taxi service PickMe.

The company works with F&B brands that typically have between just one to 15 retail locations, and want to increase their deliveries without opening new outlets. DishServe’s clients also include cloud kitchen companies who use its home kitchen network for last-mile distribution to expand their delivery coverage and catering services.

“The brands don’t to have to incur any upfront costs, and it’s a cheaper way to distribute as well because they don’t have to pay for electricity, plumbing and other things like that,” said Singhi. “And for agents, it gives them a chance to earn money from their homes.”

How it works

Before adding a home kitchen to its network, DishServe screens applicants by asking them to send in a series of photos, then doing an in-person check. If a kitchen is accepted, DishServe upgrades it so it has the same equipment and functionality as the other home kitchens in its network. The company covers the cost of the conversion process, which usually takes about three hours and costs $500 USD, and maintains ownership of the equipment, taking it back if a kitchen decided to stop working with DishServe. Singhi said DishServe is usually able to recover the cost of a conversion four months after a kitchen begins operating.

Home kitchens start out by serving DishServe’s own white-label brand as a trial run before it opens to other brands. Each can serve up to three additional brands at a time.

One important thing to note is that DishServe’s home kitchens, which are usually run by one person, don’t actually cook any food. Ingredients are provided by F&B brands, and home kitchen operators follow a standard set of procedures to heat, assemble and package meals for pick-up and delivery.

Screenshots of DishServe's apps for home kitchen operators and customers

Screenshots of DishServe’s apps for home kitchen operators and customers

DishServe makes sure standard operating procedures and hygiene standards are being maintained through frequent online audits. Agents, or kitchen operators, regularly submit photos and videos of kitchens based on a checklist (i.e. food preparation area, floors, walls, hand-washing area and the inside of their freezers). Singhi said about 90% of its agents are women between the ages of 30 to 55, with an average household income of $1,000. By working with DishServe, they typically make an additional $600 a month once their kitchen is operating at full capacity with four brands. DishServe monetizes through a revenue-sharing model, charging F&B brands and splitting that with its agents.

After joining DishServe, F&B brands pick what home kitchens they want to work with, and then distribute ingredients to kitchens, using DishServe’s real-time dashboard to monitor stock. Some ingredients have a shelf life of up to six months, while perishables, like produce, dairy and eggs, are delivered daily. DishServe’s “starter pack” for onboarding new brands lets them pick pick five kitchens, but Singhi said most brands usually begin with between 10 to 20 kitchens so they can deliver to more spots in Jakarta and save money by preparing meals in bulk.

DishServe plans to focus on growing its network in Jakarta until at least the end of this year, before expanding into other cities. “One thing we are trying to change about the F&B industry is that instead of highly-concentrated, centralized food business, like what exists today, we are decentralizing it by enabling micro-entrepreneurs to act as a distribution network,” Singhi said.

#cloud-kitchen, #dishserve, #fb, #food, #indonesia, #jakarta, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Indonesian crypto exchange Pintu gets $6M Series A led by Pantera, Intudo and Coinbase Ventures

Along with the stock market, cryptocurrency is also seeing an uptick among retail investors in Indonesia. Pintu, a platform focused on first-time cryptocurrency buyers, announced today it has raised a $6 million Series A, led by Pantera Capital, Intudo Ventures and Coinbase Ventures.

Other participants in the round included Ventures, Castle Island Ventures and Alameda Ventures.

The Indonesian Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency (also known as Bappepti) began regulating Bitcoin and other cryptoassets as commodities two years ago, paving the way for licensed brokers like Pintu. Founded last year by Jeth Soetoyo to make it easier for first-time investors to purchase Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, Pintu is registered under Bappebti and the Ministry of Communication and Informatics as a licensed cryptoassets broker.

A wave of interest in capital investing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among millennials who want alternatives to keeping their money in low-yield savings accounts, spurred interest in investment apps like Ajaib, Bibit and Pluang, which have all recently raised funding.

Many first-time investors are also looking at cryptocurrencies. According to Pintu’s internal estimates, last year Indonesia processed $10 billion USD in cryptoassets transactions, mostly through retail investors.

Pintu chief operating officer Andrew Adjiputro told TechCrunch in an email that many Indonesian retail traders see crypto as an alternative investment asset class, and that the majority of retail investors are aged 20 to 35 years old. But the company is starting to see more older investors as crypto gains popularity.

“Based on our internal survey, in terms of public’s top of mind asset classes, we see crypto as a top three asset class in Indonesia, alongside gold and mutual funds,” he said.

Other Indonesian cryptocurrency exchanges include Indodax and Tokocrypto. When asked how Pintu differentiates, Adjiputro said it focuses on the mass market to reach mainly first-time crypto users, and its value proposition lies in its mobile-first app, easy user experience and educational materials developed by the company.

“For most Indonesians, the concept of investing and trading is new, because historically penetration in these categories have been so low,” he explained. “So what we’re seeing is also the opportunity to help Indonesians understand the concept of investing/trading and along the way leapfrog investments into other asset classes. What this means is that there is a large base of underserved first time investors that demand a simple and intuitive trading platform where they are handheld from the start to finish and also educated on the fundamentals of investing/trading on top of that of crypto.”

Pintu’s new funding will be used on marketing, hiring and product development.

#coinbase-ventures, #cryptocurrency, #cryptocurrency-exchange, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #intudo-ventures, #investing, #pantera-ventures, #pintu, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Indonesian agritech platform TaniHub Group harvests a $65.5M Series B round

TaniHub Group, an Indonesian startup that helps farmers get better prices and more customers for their crops, has raised a $65.5 million Series B. The funding was led by MDI Ventures, the investment arm of Telkom Group, one of Indonesia’s largest telecoms, with participation from Add Ventures, BRI Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Intudo Ventures, Openspace Ventures, Tenaya Capital, UOB Venture Management and Vertex Ventures.

Openspace and Intudo are returning investors from TaniHub’s $10 million Series A, announced in May 2019. The new funding brings its total raised to about $94 million.

Founded in 2016, TaniHub now has more than 45,000 farmers and 350,000 buyers (including businesses and consumers) in its network. The company helps farmers earn more for their crops by streamlining distribution channels so there are less middlemen between farms and the restaurants, grocery stores, vendors and other businesses that buy their products. It does this through three units: TaniHub, TaniSupply and TaniFund.

TaniHub is its B2B e-commerce platform, which connects farmers directly to customers. Then orders are fulfilled through TaniSupply, the company’s logistics platform, which currently operates six warehousing and processing facilities where harvests can be washed, sorted and packed within an hour, before being delivered to buyers by TaniHub’s own couriers or third-party logistics providers.

Finally, TaniFund is a fintech platform that provides loans to farmers they can use while growing crops and pay off by selling through TaniHub. Co-founder and chief executive officer Eka Pamitra told TechCrunch its credit scoring system is based on three years of performance, the company’s agriculture value chain expertise and partnerships with financial institutions.

“More than 100 data points are considered when doing the credit risk assessment. For example, for cultivation financing products, TaniFund tailors each credit scoring based on agriculture risks and market risk of each commodity, on top of the typical borrower E-KYC scoring and process,” he explained. “Beyond credit scoring, having TaniSupply and TaniHub as a standby buyer within the ecosystem also helps to mitigate risk of each loan.  TaniFund aims to further boost its credit scoring system with smarter data processing and better machine learning models.”

Pamitra said TaniHub will use its new funding to build the upstream and midstream parts of its supply chain—in other words, new cultivation areas, processing, packing centers and warehouses. The company will also expand its coverage beyond Java and Bali to source and sell locally, and continue improving its supply-demand forecast model to help farmers plans crop cultivation and timing, with the goal of reducing price fluctuations and maintaining a consistent supply. Pamitra added that TaniHub will also explore precision farming technology.

Over the last couple of years, TaniHub has started exporting several types of fruits and spices to the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and South Korea. This year, it plans to focus on expanding within Indonesia because the F&B (food and beverage) market there is worth $137 billion and the Indonesian agriculture sector is still highly fragmented, Pamitra said.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, TaniHub says it was able to grow its revenue 600% year-on-year in 2020 as demand for online groceries increased.

“We postponed our branch expansion plan and focused on increasing the seven existing warehouses’ since there was a surge of demand on the B2C segment and the process of onboarding farmers. This benefited us since the adoption of purchasing fresh groceries online increased significantly, and the willingness of farmers to work with us became remarkably high because the local traditional markets were closed due to lockdowns,” Pamitra said. “Since COVID-19, the eagerness of provincial governments to open communications for TaniHub to work with local farmers and SMEs in their region has been quite impactful.”

TaniHub is now working with several Indonesian government agencies, including the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, to onboard more farmers, F&B businesses and increase exports.

In a press statement, MDI Ventures director of portfolio management Sandhy Widyasthana said, “TaniHub Group has an important role in transforming the agriculture sector and has proven that its presence can deliver positive impact on the quality of life of farmers. We hope our investment can help them continue their work and expand their coverage to more and more farming communities in Indonesia.”

#agriculture, #agritech, #asia, #farm-to-table, #farming, #food, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tanihub, #tanihub-group, #tc


Indonesian Lawsuit Seeks Court’s Help in Pollution Battle

A district court in Indonesia’s capital is expected to rule soon in a suit accusing the president and top officials of failing to curb pollution.

#air-pollution, #environment, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #joko-widodo, #politics-and-government, #respiratory-diseases, #roads-and-traffic, #suits-and-litigation-civil


Climate change is erasing humanity’s oldest art

color photo of archaeologists examining rock art in a dark cave

Enlarge / Detailed rock-art recording by ARKENAS archaeologist in Maros-Pangkep. (credit: Adhi Agus Oktaviana)

The limestone caves and rock shelters of Indonesia’s southern Sulawesi island hold the oldest traces of human art and storytelling, dating back more than 40,000 years. Paintings adorn the walls of at least 300 sites in the karst hills of Maros-Pangkep, with more almost certainly waiting to be rediscovered. But archaeologists say humanity’s oldest art is crumbling before their very eyes.

“We have recorded rapid loss of hand-sized spall flakes from these ancient art panels over a single season (less than five months),” said archaeologist Rustan Lebe of Makassar’s culture heritage department.

Erasing history

The culprit is salt. As water flows through a limestone cave system, it carries minerals from the local bedrock, which eventually end up in the limestone. At the limestone’s surface, those minerals oxidize into a case-hardened rocky crust. Nearly all of oldest rock art in Maros-Pangkep—like the oldest drawing in the world that actually depicts an actual object—is painted in red or mulberry-purple pigment on that hard outer layer. It’s resistant to most weathering, providing a durable canvas for humanity’s oldest artwork.

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#aquaculture, #archaeology, #cave-art, #cave-painting, #climate-change, #conservation, #cultural-heritage, #indonesia, #pleistocene, #rock-art, #science, #sulawesi


BukuKas gets $50M from investors including DoorDash’s Gokul Rajaram and TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus

BukuKas co-founders Krishnan Menon (left) and Lorenzo Peracchione (right) with a BukuKas user

BukuKas co-founders Krishnan Menon (left) and Lorenzo Peracchione (right) with a BukuKas user

BukuKas, a startup focused on digitizing Indonesia’s small businesses, has raised $50 million in Series B funding. The round included participation from Gokul Rajaram, the DoorDash executive, and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and chief executive officer of TransferWise.

This news comes just four months after BukuKas announced a $10 million Series A led by Sequoia Capital India. BukuKas will use its Series B to hire for its engineering and product teams in Jakarta and Bangalore, and launch new services for merchants.

“We’ve been growing really fast and there was a lot of interest from some very good people,” chief executive officer Krishnan Menon told TechCrunch. “This is not a capital-need based raise, but more of a tactical raise and having the right people back us long term.”

BukuKas was founded by Menon and chief operating officer Lorenzo Peracchione, who met while working at Lazada Indonesia. Since its launch as as a digital bookkeeping app in December 2019, BukuKas has added new features, including online payments and an e-commerce platform. The app has onboarded about 6.3 million businesses so far and now has a total of 3 million monthly active users. It claims its annualized bookkeeping transaction volume is $25.9 billion USD, or the equivalent of about 2.2% of Indonesia’s gross domestic product.

According to Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, there are about 60 million SMEs, though Menon says that number may range from 55 million to 65 million. The majority still operate mostly offline, but the push to digitization began even before the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Indonesian government launched a program two years ago with marketplace Blibi to encourage more businesses to sell online, with the goal of helping more SMEs go global.

This means there is a growing roster of startups and services focused on helping small businesses go online. These include Y Combinator-backed BukuWarung, WarungPintar, Grab’s Mitra GrabKios and wholesaler-focused CrediBook. India-based Khatabook, another Sequoia Capital India portfolio company, launched BukuUang in Indonesia, but has since pulled out of the market.

“There’s obviously a macro shift that’s happening in the market right now. People are rushing to get digitized and people are coming out of a rough year. They started to realize ‘I need to upgrade,’ so there’s a rush to get digitized, to manage their money better, a movement to digital payments,” said Menon.

BukuKas’ goal is to become an end-to-end software stack for micro, small and medium enterprises and serve 20 million MSMEs by the end of 2022, with inventory management, invoicing, payment-related analytics and other tools. The company recently took several steps toward that goal. In April, it launched BukuKasPay for business owners to pay suppliers online or accept digital payments, including virtual bank accounts and e-wallets like OVO, Dana, GoPay, LinkAja and ShopeePay from customers. In September 2020, it acquired a digital ledger app called Catatan Keuangan Harian to expand its market share before launching an e-commerce platform called Tokko that enables MSMEs to set up online shops. About 1.3 million merchants have created shops using Tokko in the six months since its release.

Tokko focuses on merchants who find big marketplaces, like Tokopedia, too complicated, and want an alternative way to set up an online brand.

BukuKas’ users include warungs (small stores), fashion retailers, electronics stores, social commerce sellers and service providers. On average, its users make several thousand U.S. dollars per month in revenue, but some earn as high as tens of thousands of dollars.

The app is designed to work as a layer on top of WhatsApp. For example, many merchants allow customers to buy on credit, so they can use BukuKas to send automatic reminders through WhatsApp with a payment link. Businesses can also send invoices or take Tokko orders through WhatsApp. Menon said since many Indonesian merchants already relied on WhatsApp to communicate with suppliers and customers, this helps it onboard more users because they don’t have to make major changes to their operational routines. It also creates viral loops, as other businesses get payment reminders or invoices sent through BukuKas, and decide to try the app, too.

“Our thesis is very similar to what Square or Shopify did in the U.S. We keep merchants as the center of the universe, and we keep building solutions for them,” Menon said. “That can be software-related solutions like BukuKas’ early version and Tokko moving further into commerce. We’re moving further into banking solutions, so payments come first, and then actually building out the full banking suite. The end goal is if a merchant five years from now looks back and says, thanks to BukuKas I was able to adapt to the digital era, and sticks with us.”

#asia, #bukukas, #digital-bookkeeping, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #msmes, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


GajiGesa, a fintech focused on Indonesian workers, adds strategic investors and launches new app for micro-SMEs

GajiGesa, a fintech startup that provides earned wage access (EWA) and other services for workers in Indonesia, has added strategic investors to help it launch new services and expand its user base. Its new backers include OCBC NISP Ventura, the venture capital arm of one of Indonesia’s largest banks, and the founders of grab-and-go coffee chain Kopi Kenangan. GajiGesa also recently expanded beyond the enterprise space with a new employee management system for SMEs and micro-SMEs. Called GajiTim, the app is aimed at businesses with between five to 100 workers and has gained more than 50,000 active users since it was launched in mid-March.

The amount of GajiGesa’s latest funding was undisclosed. The startup, launched last year by husband-and-wife team Vidit Agrawal and Martyna Malinowska, announced a $2.5 million seed round led by and Quest Ventures in February. Over the last quarter, GajiGesa’s enterprise customer base has doubled to more than 60 companies, representing tens of thousands of workers.

GajiGesa is part of a new wave of startups focused on digitizing the 60 million small businesses in Indonesia. Others include digital bookkeeping apps like BukuWarung and BukuKas for very small businesses including neighborhood stores; Moka and Jurnal for larger companies; and CrediBook, which focuses on B2B businesses.

Before starting GajiGesa, Agrawal’s experience included serving as Uber’s first employee in Asia, while Malinowska was former product lead at Standard Chartered’s SC Ventures and alternative credit-scoring platform LenddoEFL. They created GajiGesa to give workers an alternative to payday and other high-interest lenders by allowing them to access their earned wages immediately, instead of waiting for semi-monthly or monthly paychecks. (Other companies that offer similar services around the world include Square, London-based Wagestream and Gusto). Based on a recent survey, GajiGesa said more than 75% of workers at companies that use its EWA feature have stopped using informal lenders for short-term needs.

The founders of Kopi Kenangan, the grab-and-go coffee chain backed by investors like Sequoia Capital India, Alpha JWC and Horizons Ventures, have become prolific angel investors in other startups, and their network will help GajiGesa onboard more employers, Agrawal told TechCrunch. Its strategic partnership with Bank OCBC NISP, meanwhile, will help it launch more services.

GajiGesa co-founders Vidit Agrawal and Martyna Malinowska

GajiGesa co-founders Vidit Agrawal and Martyna Malinowska

“One thing we are realizing is that a lot of employees who use the earned wage aspect of GajiGesa are expecting more kinds of products, either a loan product or an insurance product, and that’s where an opportunity arises to partner with a bank,” Agrawal told TechCrunch. About two-thirds of Indonesia’s population is “unbanked,” meaning they don’t have a bank account, so this also gives Bank OCBC NISP a chance to onboard new customers.

“Having a bank as a partner allows us to structure the right interest rate, the right size of products and create a larger impact,” said Malinowska.

GajiGesa does not charge interest rates or require collateral, since users are pre-approved by their employers. Instead, companies can decide to charge fees or offer GajiGesa as part of a benefits package. When a worker withdraws money, GajiGesa asks why they are using the Earned Wage Access feature, and presents that data to companies in an anonymized and aggregated format.

This allows employers to see what needs their work base has and potentially develop new benefits. For example, one of the top three reasons workers use EWA is to pay medical bills. “This is a strong signal to an employer that if you’re trying to retain employees, especially a blue collar employee, even a basic insurance product might be very attractive for the family,” said Agrawal.

GajiGesa also discovered that many workers, especially in Tier 2 to Tier 3 cities, use its EWA to fund family businesses instead of taking out loans for working capital.

“A lot of families in Indonesia often have one member working in a factory with fixed salaries, and they have micro-industries at home, for example making wafers or stickers to sell in their communities or online,” said Agrawal. “They were going to loan sharks previously or private lenders for very expensive rates so they can run their business, and now the family member who is working in a factory can withdraw capital to support the family business so they don’t need to go to loan sharks.”

GajiTim was launched because the startup saw many inbound inquiries from SMEs, like restaurants, small factories and general stores, that have a lot of part-time workers. These businesses often rely on paper systems, including punch time cards, to track working hours and calculate paychecks. But this often results in disputes, so having an app that counts working hours and earned wages in real-time gives workers more transparency and helps companies save time. GajiTim also has access to GajiGesa’s flagship EWA service and allows it to bring more clients onto the platform.

#asia, #earned-wage-access, #fintech, #gajigesa, #gajitim, #indonesia, #southeast-asia, #tc


9,000 fliers may have had reused swabs jammed up their noses in Indonesia

A gloved hand rams a cotton swab into an unhappy person's face hole.

Enlarge / BANGKA BELITUNG ISLANDS, INDONESIA – DECEMBER 21, 2020: Health workers carry out a rapid antigen test on a passenger at Deapti Amir Airport, Pangkal Pinang City. (credit: Getty | Roni Bayu)

Since last December, more than 9,000 airline passengers who took a coronavirus rapid test as they flew out of Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, Indonesia, may have been tested by having previously used cotton swabs jammed into their noses.

Medan police arrested four workers and a local manager of the major pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma, which was working in conjunction with the airport to help perform the tests. The Medan-based Kimia Farma employees were allegedly washing and repacking cotton swabs for the tests while pocketing up to 1.8 billion rupiah (~$125,000), local police said.

Airline passengers in Indonesia are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding, and many opt for the convenience of being tested at the airport. Since the alleged swab scam began in December, Kimia Farma workers were testing between 100 and 200 passengers a day at the airport, some with fresh tests and others with tests that apparently involved reused swabs.

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#covid-testing, #covid-19, #indonesia, #infectious-disease, #public-health, #science, #swab


Hangry, an Indonesian cloud kitchen startup with plans to become a global F&B company, closes $13M Series A

Hangry, an Indonesian cloud kitchen startup that wants to become a global food and beverage company, has raised a $13 million Series A. The round was led by returning investor Alpha JWC Ventures, and included participation from Atlas Pacific Capital, Salt Ventures and Heyokha Brothers. It will be used to increase the number of Hangry’s outlets in Indonesia, including launching its first dine-in restaurants, over the next two years before it enters other countries.

Along with a previous round of $3 million from Alpha JWC and Sequoia Capital’s Surge program, Hangry’s Series A brings its total funding to $16 million. It currently operates about 40 cloud kitchens in Greater Jakarta and Bandung, 34 of which launched in 2020. Hangry plans to expand its total outlets to more than 120 this year, including dine-in restaurants.

Founded in 2019 by Abraham Viktor, Robin Tan and Andreas Resha, Hangry is part of Indonesia’s burgeoning cloud kitchen industry. Tech giants Grab and Gojek both operate networks of cloud kitchens that are integrated with their food delivery services, while other startups in the space include Everplate and Yummy.

One of the main ways Hangry sets itself apart is by focusing on its own brands, instead of providing kitchen facilities and services to restaurants and other third-party clients. Hangry currently has four brands, including Indonesian chicken dishes (Ayam Koplo) and Japanese food (San Gyu), that cost about 15,000 to 70,000 IDR per portion (or about $1 to $6 USD). Its food can be ordered through Hangry’s own app, plus GrabFood, GoFood and ShopeeFood.

“Given that Hangry has developed an extensive cloud kitchen network across Indonesia, we naturally would have interest from other brands to leverage our networks,” chief executive officer Viktor told TechCrunch. “However, our focus is to grow our brands since our brands are rapidly growing in popularity in Indonesia and require all kitchen resources that they need to realize their full potential.”

Providing food deliveries helped Hangry grow during COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing, but in order to become a global brand within a decade, it needs to operate in multiple channels, he added.

“We knew that we will one day have to serve customers in all channels, including dine in,” said Viktor. “We started the hard way, doing delivery-first business, where we faced the challenges surrounding making sure our food still tastes good when it reaches customers’ homes. Now we feel ready to serve our customers in our restaurant premises. Our dine-in concept is an expansion of everything we’ve done in delivery channels.”

In a press statement, Alpha JWC Ventures partner Eko Kurniadi said, “In the span of 1.5 years, [Hangry] launched multiple brands across myriad tastes and categories, and almost all of them are amongst the best sellers list with superior ratings in multiple platforms, tangible examples of product-market fit. This is only the beginning and we can already foresee their growth to be a top local F&B brand in the country.”

#alpha-jwc, #asia, #cloud-kitchen, #fb, #food-and-beverage, #food-delivery, #fundings-exits, #hangry, #indonesia, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Bibit raises another growth round led by Sequoia Capital India, this time for $65M

Four months after leading a $30 million growth round in Bibit, Sequoia Capital India has doubled down on its investment in the Indonesian robo-advisor app. Bibit announced today that the firm led a new $65 million growth round that also included participation from Prosus Ventures, Tencent, Harvard Management Company and returning investors AC Ventures and East Ventures.

This brings Bibit’s total funding to $110 million, including a Series A announced in May 2019. Its latest round will be used on developing and launching new products, hiring and increasing Bibit’s financial education services.

Bibit was launched in 2019 by Stockbit, a stock investing platform and community, and is part of a crop of Indonesian investment apps focused on new investors. Others include SoftBank Ventures-backed Ajaib, Bareksa, Pluang and FUNDtastic. Bibit runs robo-advisor services for mutual funds, investing users’ money based on their risk profiles, and claims that 90% of its users are millennials and first-time investors.

According to Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa Keuangan), the number of retail investors grew 56% year-over-year in 2020. For mutual funds in particular, Bibit said investors grew 78% year-over-year to 3.2 million, based on data from the Indonesia Stock Exchange and Central Securities Custodian.

Despite the economic impact of COVID-19, interest in stock investing grew as people took advantage of market dips (the Jakara Composite Index fell in the first quarter of 2020, but is now recovering steadily). Apps like Bibit and its competitors want to make capital investing more accessible with lower fees and minimum investment amounts than traditional brokerages like Mandiri Sekuritas, which also saw an increase in new retail investors and average transaction value last year.

But the percentage of retail investors in Indonesia is still very low, especially compared to markets like Singapore or Malaysia, presenting growth opportunities for investment services.

Apps like Bibit focus on content that helps make capital investing less intimidating to first-time investors. For example, Ajaib also presents its financial educational features as a selling point.

In press statement, Sequoia Capital India vice president Rohit Agarwal said, “Indonesian mutual fund customers have grown almost 10x in the past five years. Savings via mutual funds is the first step towards investing and Bibit has helped millions of consumers start their investing journey in a responsible manner. Sequoia Capital India is excited to double down on the partnership as the company brings the same customer focus to stock investing with Stockbit.”


#asia, #bibit, #indonesia, #investment-app, #robo-advisor, #sequoia-capital-india, #southeast-asia, #tc


Indonesian consumer research startup Populix gets $1.2M in pre-Series A funding

Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world, but consumer data is still hard to find for many businesses, especially smaller ones. Populix wants to make research easier for companies, through a respondent app that now has 250,000 users in 300 Indonesian cities. The startup announced today it has raised $1.2 million in an oversubscribed pre-Series A round led by returning investor Intudo Ventures, with participation from Quest Ventures.

Populix has now raised a total of $2.3 million since it was founded in January 2018, including a $1 million seed round also led by Intudo. The company’s revenue grew five times in 2020 and it signed up 52 new enterprise clients in 10 countries, as the COVID-19 pandemic limited traditional forms of consumer surveys, like in-person questionnaires. Its customers range in size from tech startups to multinational conglomerates.

The new capital will be used for product launches, marketing and hiring. Populix is currently in the process of launching a self-service product called Paket Hemat Populix (PHP) for clients like SMEs or university researchers that want to conduct their own surveys and monitor results in real time.

A Zoom group photo of Populix's co-founders: chief executive officer Timothy Astandu, chief operating officer Eileen Kamtawijoyo and chief technical officer Jonathan Benhi

Populix’s founding team

The company’s co-founders are chief executive officer Timothy Astandu, chief operating officer Eileen Kamtawijoyo and chief technical officer Jonathan Benhi. Astandu and Kamtawijoyo met while both were graduate students in business management at the University of Cambridge.

“When we were studying, we looked at developed markets, and in developed markets, consumer insights is such a big thing that all the brands are using it already,” said Astandu. “But it’s something that’s not available in developing countries like Indonesia,” where many companies still conduct research offline despite its very high smartphone engagement rates. For example, if a coffee brand wants to understand consumer sentiment, it will send people with surveys into a cafe or grocery store and ask customers to fill them out in return for a small gift.

“We felt it was important to do consumer sentiment in Indonesia, because it’s going to be a big market and Indonesia has seen very little innovation so far,” Astandu added. “That gives us a chance to disrupt it, in the sense that it has always catered to the big clients. It’s always the multinationals in Indonesia that buy it, but you are seeing an emerging middle class, a lot of SMEs and perhaps they actually need research and data more than big companies.”

After returning to Indonesia, Astandu and Kamtawijoyo began working on a more accurate and accessible alternative to traditional surveys, developing Populix while part of Gojek’s Xcelerate program. Then they met Benhi, who was previously an engineer at, a Seattle-based video platform for consumer research.

Populix’s clients conduct research through its respondent app, also called Populix, which keeps users engaged through daily polls, games and news, in return for incentives like cash offers or rebate programs. Populix can be customized for a wide range of research, ranging from short surveys to longitudinal studies that take place over a period of time, and is used to track brand health, prepare for product launches or gauge customer satisfaction. For example, a coffee brand used Populix to see how it was doing compared to competitors on a monthly basis and study consumer reactions before launching a ready-to-drink coffee. E-commerce companies have also used it to ask people where they shop online, what they look for and how they feel about the customer experience on different platforms.

“We can speed up the recruitment process, because we already have respondents available in our database for practically any kind of study,” said Kamtawijoyo.

Populix is currently developing new products to track market movements, using data collection tech like optical character recognition to scan invoices from major e-commerce platforms. It says its data classification system can recognize over 73% of all items on invoices.

Other companies in the same space include established players like YouGov and Kantar, and Singapore-based Milieu Insight, a market research and data platform that operates in several Southeast Asian countries. Astandu said one of the main ways Populix differentiates is by focusing on mobile surveys, since Indonesia is the fourth-largest smartphone market in the world (after China, India and the United States) and the penetration rate is still growing.

The founders said Populix will continue focusing on Indonesia with its pre-Series A funding, but plans to look at other developing markets with fragmented consumer data, like the Philippines and Vietnam, after raising its Series A round.

In a press statement, Intudo Ventures founding partner Patrick Yip said, “With consumer habits undergoing dramatic changes in recent years due to rising incomes and widespread embrace of digital commerce, Populix is providing clients with actionable insights into the latest consumption characteristics and trends of Indonesians. We are excited to double down on our support for Populix as it continues to roll out new technology-driven consumer insights products and solutions to meet the needs of clients both big and small.”

#asia, #consumer-research, #indonesia, #market-research, #populix, #southeast-asia, #tc


Super, an Indonesian hyperlocal social commerce startup, raises $28M led by SoftBank Ventures Asia

Super's founding team on Mount Bromo in East Java

Super’s founding team on Mount Bromo in East Java

In Indonesia, daily necessities often cost more in smaller cities and rural areas. Super co-founder and chief executive officer Steven Wongsoredjo said the price difference can vary from about 10% to 20% in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, to nearly 200% in eastern provinces. Super uses social commerce and a streamlined logistics chain to lower the cost of goods. The startup announced today it has raised an oversubscribed $28 million Series B led by SoftBank Ventures Asia.

Other participants included returning backers Amasia, Insignia Ventures Partners, Y-Combinator Continuity Fund and Bain Capital co-chairman Stephen Pagliuca, while partners from DST Global and TNB Aura invested for the first time in this round.

The funding brings Super’s total raised so far to more than $36 million, which the company says is the most funding an Indonesian social commerce startup has raised so far.

Super, which took part in Y Combinator’s winter 2018 batch, focuses mainly on cities or towns with a gross domestic product per capita of $5,000 USD or lower. It currently operates in 17 cities in East Java, and has a network of thousands of agents, or resellers, and hundreds of thousands of end buyers. The company will use its new funding to double its presence in the region and launch in other Indonesian provinces this year. It will also expand its product categories beyond fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and develop its recently-launched white label brand, SuperEats.

Wongsoredjo told TechCrunch that Super’s ultimate goal is to “build the Walmart Group of Indonesia without having a retail store and utilizing the social commerce aspect to build a sustainable model,” similar to the way Pinduoduo became one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies by focusing on smaller cities.

Prices for consumer goods are higher in small cities and rural areas because of two reasons, Wongsoredjo said. The first is that orders from smaller cities cost more to fulfill, with supply chain costs adding up, than larger orders, and the second is infrastructure that makes it harder for manufacturers and FMCG brands to truck goods into rural areas, so supply does not meet demand.

Super operates a central warehouse, along with smaller hubs closer to buyers. Most of Super’s products are supplied by regional FMCG brands, and group orders are delivered to agents, who in turn perform last-mile deliveries to their buyers. This keeps prices down by making its supply chain more efficient and enabling it to fulfill orders within 24 hours without relying on third-party logistics providers.

Other social commerce companies in Indonesia include KitaBeli, ChiliBeli and Woobiz. Wongsoredjo said Super had a headstart to serve smaller cities and rural areas because it does not focus on Jabodetabek, or the greater Jakarta region. Its headquarters and core operations teams are also all outside of major cities.

“We believe that by not having Jabodetabek’s presence in our DNA, we can build unique social commerce products with the hyperlocal touch to serve rural communities much better,” Wongsoredjo added. “We want to go after the rest of 90% of the market that is still under-penetrated.”

In statement, SoftBank Ventures Asia partner Cindy Jin said, “We have been impressed by the Super team’s deep knowledge and commitment to Indonesia’s underserved regions, and believe that a truly local team like theirs will be well equipped to navigate and build out a platform in this hyperlocal market.”


#asia, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #social-commerce, #southeast-asia, #startups, #super, #tc


Indonesia Submarine Crew Sang a Farewell Song, Weeks Before Sinking

A video of the sailors singing went viral on social media, prompting many to infer a hidden meaning in the pop song’s lyrics.

#bali-indonesia, #defense-and-military-forces, #indonesia, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #music, #southeast-asia, #submarines-and-submersibles


Indonesian General Is Killed in Rebel Ambush in Papua Region

President Joko Widodo announced the death of the high ranking intelligence chief and called for the arrest of rebel gunmen. Activists said they feared reprisals against Indigenous Papuans.

#defense-and-military-forces, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #indigenous-people, #indonesia, #joko-widodo, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #papua-province-indonesia, #politics-and-government, #secession-and-independence-movements, #terrorism


Debris From Indonesian Submarine Is Found, Ending Hopes of Rescue

Search teams from several countries had been looking for the navy vessel, which disappeared this week with 53 people aboard.

#bali-indonesia, #indonesia, #pacific-ocean, #southeast-asia, #submarines-and-submersibles


Myanmar Coup Leader Arrives in Indonesia for Asean Summit

Critics feared that Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s presence at the meeting in Indonesia would give his regime the appearance of legitimacy.

#assn-of-southeast-asian-nations, #coups-detat-and-attempted-coups-detat, #defense-and-military-forces, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #indonesia, #international-relations, #min-aung-hlaing, #myanmar, #political-prisoners, #war-crimes-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity


For Indonesian Submarine, Oxygen and Time Are Running Out

Rescue ships from several countries are in a desperate hunt to find the submarine, which disappeared on Wednesday with 53 people aboard.

#indonesia, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #submarines-and-submersibles


Indonesian Navy Submarine Goes Missing With 53 People on Board

The last request made by the submarine was for permission to descend to a deeper part of the Bali Sea.

#bali-indonesia, #indonesia, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #submarines-and-submersibles


Qapita, a developer of equity management software for startups, raises $5M led by MassMutual

A group photo of Qapita's co-founders. From left to right: Vamsee Mohan, Ravi Ravulaparthi and Lakshman Gupta


Qapita’s co-founders. Fom left to right: Vamsee Mohan, Ravi Ravulaparthi and Lakshman Gupta

Qapita, a Singapore-based fintech that provides capitalization table and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) management software, has raised $5 million in pre-Series A funding. The round was led by MassMutual Ventures, with participation from Endiya Partners and angel investors including Avaana Capital founder Anjali Bansal and Udaan co-founder Sujeet Kumar.

Vulcan Capital and East Ventures, who led Qapita’s seed round in September 2020, also returned for this funding, along with most of its angel investors, including Koh Boon Hwee, Atin Kukreja, Alto Partners, Mission Holdings, Northstar Group Partners and K3 Ventures. East Ventures co-founder and managing partner Willson Cuaca will join Qapita’s board.

Qapita currently serves clients in Indonesia, Singapore and India, focusing on startups. Its software platform helps private companies digitize and manage cap tables, perform due diligence and issue equity to employees. Qapita was founded in 2019 by Ravi Ravulaparthi, Lakshman Gupta and Vamsee Mohan, and has since grown its team to 30 people.

Its goal is to create more liquidity and re-investment in the Indian and Southeast Asian startup ecosystems by making it easier to issue equity. Qapita currently serves more than 100 companies, and its new funding will be used to add more features and strike partnerships with service providers like legal, accounting and company secretarial firms.

In a press statement, MassMutual Ventures Anvesh Ramineni, said, “Globally, we are witnessing trends that indicate a convergence between public and private markets. Qapita is enabling this in the region through their solution – from cap table and stakeholder management to digital share issuances and liquidity solutions. We believe the team has the right combination of experience, understanding of regional markets and product expertise to deliver on their vision.”

#asia, #employee-stock-ownership-plans, #equity-management, #esop, #financial, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #india, #indonesia, #qapita, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Indonesian edtech CoLearn gets $10M Series A led by Alpha Wave Incubation and GSV Ventures

A Zoom screenshot with CoLearn's founding team: Marc Irawan, Abhay Saboo and Sandeep Devaram

A Zoom screenshot with CoLearn’s founding team: Marc Irawan, Abhay Saboo and Sandeep Devaram

Indonesian startup CoLearn started as a chain of physical tutoring centers and was in the process of shifting to a hybrid offline-online model when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The team sensed that remote learning would permanently change how students want to be tutored and decided to focus completely on its app, which launched in August 2020. CoLearn has since been downloaded more than 3.5 million times and has about one million active users, mostly students in grades 7 to 12.

The company announced today it has raised $10 million in Series A funding co-led by Alpha Wave Incubation and edtech-focused GSV Ventures. This marks the first time both have made an investment in Indonesia. The round also included participation from returning investors Sequoia Capital India’s Surge and AC Ventures.

One of the Jakarta-based company’s goals is to improve educational standards in Indonesia. The country’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment, a global ranking system created by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) rankings are in the bottom 10% for math, science and reading. CoLearn’s goal is to help move up Indonesia’s PISA ratings to the top 50% over the next five years.

CoLearn’s app offers more than 250,000 pre-recorded videos with homework help. The videos serve as a hook to convince students (or their parents) to sign up for CoLearn’s live online classes.

Screenshots from CoLearn, an Indonesian online learning app

CoLearn screenshots

The company’s co-founders are Abhay Saboo, Marc Irawan and BYJU product team alum Sandeep Devaram. Despite being the world’s fourth most populous country with 270 million people, Indonesia has not seen the same level of investment and innovation in its educational infrastructure as countries like China or India, Saboo told TechCrunch. “We’re trying to solve the problem of how do you change mindsets, how do you change motivation, how do you increase in confidence levels?”

CoLearn started its offline in business in 2018, before shifting to a hybrid model. Once the pandemic hit, the company decided to go fully online. Even after schools reopen, the team anticipates that most students will prefer the convenience of online afterschool learning because going to brick-and-mortar tutoring centers can eat up hours of their time each day, Saboo said.

CoLearn’s users ask about 5 million questions through the app each month. Its AI platform matches them with video tutorials, recorded by more than 400 tutors, that break down key concepts. Saboo said creating engaging videos instead of presenting solutions in a diagram is one of the ways CoLearn differentiates from competitors like SnapAsk, which raised $35 million last year to expand in Southeast Asia.

“What we realized is that kids are really craving a step-by-step explanation and this is the TikTok generation, so if a picture says a thousand words, then a video says a million,” he said. He added that students often hit pause on the video when they think they have the answer to a question, before skipping to the end to see if they got it right, indicating that they want to understand concepts instead of simply getting a solution.

CoLearn’s live online classes will be its main priority going forward and the startup hopes to replicate the success of companies like China’s Yuanfadao and Zuoyebang. As part of that goal, it runs teacher training programs and expects to train more than 200 teachers over the next two years, especially in STEM subjects. The company may eventually scale into other countries that have similar issues with their education systems, but Saboo said CoLearn’s plan is to focus on Indonesia for at last the next couple of years.

Other investors in CoLearn include Leo Capital, TNB Aura, S7V, January Capital, Alpha JWC, Taurus Ventures, Alter Global and Mahanusa Capital.

In press statement, GSV Ventures managing partner Deborah Quazzo said, “The opportunity to build efficacious learning solutions for the fourth largest country in the world is vast. The greatest businesses are created when entrepreneurs tackle large, important problems and CoLearn is doing that.”


#asia, #colearn, #edtech, #education, #fundings-exits, #homework-help, #indonesia, #online-learning, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Floods and Mudslides in Eastern Indonesia Leave at Least 41 Dead

Entire neighborhoods were submerged, with some of the worst effects hitting a remote island accessible only by sea, officials said.

#deaths-fatalities, #floods, #indonesia, #landslides-and-mudslides, #rain, #weather


Cockpit Recorder From Indonesian Crash Is Finally Recovered

After months of searching, Indonesian officials say they have found the crucial memory unit from Sriwijaya Air Flight 182. Investigators hope it will help explain why the plane crashed in January.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-company, #deaths-fatalities, #engines, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #pilots, #recording-equipment, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182


Monk’s Hill Ventures and Glints on how Southeast Asian startups can cope with the region’s talent crunch

A lot has changed since Monk’s Hill Ventures released its first report on tech compensation in Southeast Asia five years ago, with base salaries and competition for top talent jumping dramatically. But one thing has remained the same since 2016: startup compensation data, including information about base pay, bonuses and stock options, is still hard to find. To get more data for its latest Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation report, which covers startup hiring in Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, Monk’s Hill Ventures teamed up with Glints, one of its portfolio companies.

Glints is a recruitment platform that claims 4 million users each month and is used by 30,000 organizations. The report analyzed more than 1,000 data points from Glints’ proprietary database, including job advertisements and placements made through 2020, and surveyed 175 employees in both technical and non-technical roles. It also includes interviews with more than 20 founders, including from Bot MD, Carousell, Horangi, the Asianparent and Ninja Van. The full report can be downloaded here.

The report focused on Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam because they are three of the fastest-growing markets in Southeast Asia. It found that startups are dealing with several major shifts at the same time. There are more Southeast Asian startups maturing into late stage, but at the same time, large American and Chinese tech companies are setting up regional operations, including TikTok, Tencent, Alibaba and Zoom. This means compensation packages are being driven up and startups face a talent crunch, especially in Singapore. Most of the founders interviewed by Monk’s Hill Ventures and Glints said that base salaries have at least doubled since 2016.

Going remote even before the pandemic

But the range of salaries and talent pool varies widely between Southeast Asian countries, and as a result, tech startups can build strong teams with a regionally distributed strategy. For example, this can look like an engineering team in Vietnam, data science team in Singapore and product management team in Indonesia. Vietnam had the highest salary differences between senior and junior roles, for both tech and non-tech talent, compared to Singapore and Indonesia, which the report said means there is “strong potential for upward salary growth within the Vietnamese tech sector.”

Oswald Yeo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Glints, told TechCrunch that many startups were building regionally distributed engineering hubs before COVID-19 because there was simply not enough talent in Singapore. Now even more founders have become open to remote teams because of the pandemic. But having teams in different countries doesn’t just address the talent crunch. It also lays the groundwork for regional expansion.

“Commercially in Southeast Asia, you can’t stay in a single market unless it’s maybe Indonesia,” said Yeo. “If you stay only in Singapore, Malaysia or even Vietnam, you will not be a large enough business and make the impact you want to make. A lot of startups have to venture out, so they end up having commercial teams in each market anyway and then it’s very normal for them to build product and tech teams in those markets.”

Competing for specialized skills

The report found that tech roles, including product, data science and engineering, earn 54% more than non-technical roles, like marketing, operations or finance. But the base salary between product and data science roles over non-technical roles was one to two times higher than for engineering, suggesting that “while engineering skills are becoming more common across the region, specialized product and data science skills remain hard to come by.”

Founders said that vice presidents of engineering in particular are seen as one of a startup’s most critical hires. Singapore-based startups at Series B and upward paid base monthly salaries ranging from $7,500 to $10,000, with equity compensation from 0.3% to 1.2%. In Indonesia, base salaries for engineering VPs ranged from $2,800 to $7,100 depending on the stage of company, and in Vietnam, early stage companies paid on average $1,000 to $5,000. That amount increased to $5,000 to $6,000 after raising Series A funding, and $8,000 to $10,000 for companies at Series B stage and above.

The competition for top tech talent is also reflected in C-level compensation. The report found that chief executive officers tend to hold more equity in their startups, but chief technology officers consistently have higher median base salaries, “suggesting that CEOs are often willing to take a pay cut in favor of their technical counterparts, who are typically highly valued and considered scarce assets to the company.”

Based on combined data from Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, CEO’s median salary increased from $2,600 a month at the $0 to $10 million funding stage, to $6,000 a month at $5 million to $10 million in funding. In comparison, at the same funding stages, CTO’s median salary increased from $3,300 to $7,550 respectively. CEO at startups with funding up to $5 million owned between 15% to 100% of their company’s equity, while the average ownership of CTOs at that stage is 19%.

Cash versus equity

Another noteworthy finding is that less than 32% of tech talent surveyed by Monk’s Hill Ventures and Glints are being compensated in equity. Founders said employees, especially junior-to-mid level hires, still prefer cash. But this is changing as founders spend more time educating their teams about the benefits of equity, and some startups are now also offering annual wage supplements, bonuses, restricted stock units or employee stock ownership plans.

Some founders reported that executives who have worked in the American or Singaporean startup ecosystems are keener on equity options, but in general, there needs to be more startup exits in Southeast Asia for candidates to become open to equity.

Before co-founding Monk’s Hill Ventures, Peng Ong was a venture partner at GSR Ventures in China. “In 2010, in that time frame, there were the same issues there. People wanted cash. Fast forward to three years later, when the IPOs started to happen, all that changed. People wanted options,” Ong told TechCrunch. He said that the same shift is gradually starting to happen in Southeast Asia, thanks to Sea Group and Razer’s IPOs.

#glints, #indonesia, #monks-hill-ventures, #salaries, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #tech-compensation, #vietnam


Tropical Forest Destruction Accelerated in 2020

There were bright spots, but the total lost acreage increased by 12 percent over all from the year before, according to new research.

#agriculture-and-farming, #amazon-jungle, #biodiversity, #brazil, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indonesia, #logging-industry, #pantanal-brazil, #rural-areas, #wildfires, #world-resources-institute


Google starts trialing its FLoC cookie alternative in Chrome

Google today announced that it is rolling out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), a crucial part of its Privacy Sandbox project for Chrome, as a developer origin trial.

FLoC is meant to be an alternative to the kind of cookies that advertising technology companies use today to track you across the web. Instead of a personally identifiable cookie, FLoC runs locally and analyzes your browsing behavior to group you into a cohort of like-minded people with similar interests (and doesn’t share your browsing history with Google). That cohort is specific enough to allow advertisers to do their thing and show you relevant ads, but without being so specific as to allow marketers to identify you personally.

This “interest-based advertising,” as Google likes to call it, allows you to hide within the crowd of users with similar interests. All the browser displays is a cohort ID and all your browsing history and other data stay locally.

Image Credits: Google / Getty Images

The trial will start in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines. Over time, Google plans to scale it globally. As we learned earlier this month, Google is not running any tests in Europe because of concerns around GDPR and other privacy regulations (in part, because it’s unclear whether FLoC IDs should be considered personal data under these regulations).

Users will be able to opt out from this origin trial, just like they will be able to do so with all other Privacy Sandbox trials.

Unsurprisingly, given how FLoC upends many of the existing online advertising systems in place, not everybody loves this idea. Advertisers obviously love the idea of being able to target individual users, though Google’s preliminary data shows that using these cohorts leads to similar results for them and that advertisers can expect to see “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.”

Google notes that its own advertising products will get the same access to FLoC IDs as its competitors in the ads ecosystem.

But it’s not just the advertising industry that is eyeing this project skeptically. Privacy advocates aren’t fully sold on the idea either. The EFF, for example, argues that FLoC will make it easier for marketing companies that want to fingerprint users based on the various FLoC IDs they expose, for example. That’s something Google is addressing with its Privacy Budget proposal, but how well that will work remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, users would probably prefer to just browse the web without seeing ads (no matter what the advertising industry may want us to believe) and without having to worry about their privacy. But online publishers continue to rely on advertising income to fund their sites.

With all of these divergent interests, it was always clear that Google’s initiatives weren’t going to please everyone. That friction was always built into the process. And while other browser vendors can outright block ads and third-party cookies, Google’s role in the advertising ecosystem makes this a bit more complicated.

“When other browsers started blocking third-party cookies by default, we were excited about the direction, but worried about the immediate impact,” Marshall Vale, Google’s product manager for Privacy Sandbox, writes in today’s announcement. “Excited because we absolutely need a more private web, and we know third-party cookies aren’t the long-term answer. Worried because today many publishers rely on cookie-based advertising to support their content efforts, and we had seen that cookie blocking was already spawning privacy-invasive workarounds (such as fingerprinting) that were even worse for user privacy. Overall, we felt that blocking third-party cookies outright without viable alternatives for the ecosystem was irresponsible, and even harmful, to the free and open web we all enjoy.”

It’s worth noting that FLoC, as well as Google’s other privacy sandbox initiatives, are still under development. The company says the idea here is to learn from these initial trials and evolve the project accordingly.

#advertising-tech, #australia, #brazil, #canada, #computing, #google, #google-search, #india, #indonesia, #japan, #mexico, #new-zealand, #online-advertising, #philippines, #software, #tracking, #united-states, #web-browsers


Oil Refinery in Indonesia Catches Fire, Prompting an Evacuation

The state-owned oil company, Pertamina, which operates the refinery on Java island, suggested the fire may have been caused by a lightning strike. No deaths were reported.

#evacuations-and-evacuees, #fires-and-firefighters, #indonesia, #java-indonesia, #pertamina, #refineries


Ajaib raises $65M Series A extension led by Ribbit Capital, increasing the round’s total to $90M

Ajaib, the Indonesian investment app, has added $65 million to its Series A, bringing the round’s new total to $90 million. The extension was led by Ribbit Capital, the fintech investor that also led Robinhood’s $3.4 billion funding last month. Ajaib is Ribbit Capital’s first investment in Southeast Asia.

The extension will be used to expand Ajaib’s product development and engineering capabilities. The startup, which claims to run the fourth largest stock brokerage in Indonesia based on number of trades, announced the $25 million first closing of its Series A in January. Other participants included Y Combinator Continuity, ICONIQ Capital, Bangkok Bank PLC, and returning investors Horizons Ventures, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Alpha JWC and Insignia Ventures. David Velez and SG Lee, the founders of fintech startups Nubank and Toss respectively, also invested.

Ajaib was founded in 2019 by chief executive officer Anderson Sumarli and chief operating officer Yada Piyajomkwan. It is among a new crop of fintech startups that are focused on making stock investing more accessible to first-time investors. In Indonesia, less than 1% of the population own stocks, but that number is increasing, especially among millennials.

Other investment apps in Indonesia that have also raised funding recently include Pluang, Bibit and Bareksa. Ajaib’s founders told TechCrunch in January that it differentiates as a low-fee stock trading platform that also offers mutual funds for diversification.

In a press statement, Ribbit Capital managing partner Micky Malka said, “We are witnessing an unprecedented revolution in retail investing around the world. Ajaib is at the forefront of this revolution and is on their way to building the most trusted brand in the market. Their commitment to bring transparency and serve Indonesia’s millennial investors with the best products is at par with the best companies worldwide.”

#ajaib, #asia, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #investment-app, #southeast-asia, #startups, #stocks, #tc


Indonesia Church Rocked by Explosion on Palm Sunday

A priest described the blast in the city of Makassar as a suicide bombing. The mayor said no churchgoers were killed.

#easter-and-holy-week, #indonesia, #islamic-state-in-iraq-and-syria-isis, #sulawesi-indonesia, #terrorism


Indonesian social commerce app KitaBeli gets $10M led by Go Ventures

Indonesian social commerce app KitaBeli's team, including

Indonesian social commerce app KitaBeli’s team, including founders Prateek Chaturvedi (seated, left front row and Ivana Medea Tjandra (center front row)

KitaBeli, an Indonesian social commerce app for group buying, announced today it has raised a $10 million Series A. The round was led by Gojek’s investment arm Go Ventures, with participation from returning investors AC Ventures and East Ventures. KitaBeli currently focuses on selling fresh produce and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in areas outside of Indonesia’s major cities, including to people who have never shopped online before.

Launched in March 2020 in Jarkata, KitaBeli then entered the cities of Solo and Malang. Its new funding will be used to expand KitaBeli’s operations in Java, growing its logistics network and developing its mobile app. KitaBeli claims it has grown 80% month over month since launch, with a cost-per-install rate of just 10 cents USD per customers.

Unlike other social e-commerce apps, including ChiliBeli and Woobiz in Indonesia, that build networks of resellers or agents who market items through their social media profiles and take a cut of sales, KitaBeli’s buyers place orders directly through its app, participating in group deals for lower prices. For farmers and suppliers, KitaBeli’s value comes from the ability to reach new customers in more areas of Indonesia. It says users spend an average of USD $70 per month on the app and plans to add new categories like beauty, fashion and accessories.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Prateek Chaturvedi said KitaBeli focuses on direct relationships with end customers because “this enables greater customer loyalty and the ability to become the go-to e-commerce platform for new online shoppers. We don’t run the risk of losing our customers if an agent decides to stop working with us.”

While it doesn’t have a reseller network, KitaBeli works with delivery partners for last-mile deliveries, presenting the gig as an opportunity to earn extra money. It plans to continue building its delivery network across Indonesia to help KitaBeli solve the challenges of reaching smaller cities and more rural areas.

An obvious comparison to KitaBeli is Pinduoduo, the fast-growing Chinese e-commerce player that launched in 2015 as a group-buying service for fresh produce, and also focuses on growth in smaller cities.

On the other hand, “tier 2-4 cities in Indonesia still lack the digital and logistical infrastructure that similar cities in China have,” Chaturvedi said. “Indonesian customers are also new to the internet and need to be educated on how e-commerce works.” KitaBeli’s app is designed to be approachable for first-time e-commerce shoppers, and only takes 6MB to download, making it more accessible to people who have older smartphone models or slower internet connections.

KitaBeli will continue focusing on Indonesia instead of expanding into other Southeast Asia countries because “the Indonesian market is a massive and underpenetrated market,” he added.

In a press statement, Go Ventures’ senior vice president of investments Aditya Kumar said, “E-commerce penetration beyond the large metros has remained low, predominantly because of lack of trust, poor product availability, and high logistics costs. Kitabeli is well positioned to address these challenges through the social nature of its product, accelerating online shopping for a new generation of users and bringing the benefits of e-commerce to a wider population across Indonesia.”