Zeller, a fintech founded by Square alumni, raises $25M AUD Series A led by Lee Fixel’s Addition

A photo of Dominic Yap, chief operating officer and co-founder, and Ben Pfisterer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Zeller

Dominic Yap, chief operating officer and co-founder, and Ben Pfisterer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Zeller

Zeller, a payment and financial services startup founded by former Square executives, quietly raised a $25 million AUD (about $19.4 million USD) Series A last year, it announced today. The funding was led by Addition, the investment firm founded by former Tiger Global partner Lee Fixel, and included participation from returning investors Square Peg and Apex Capital. The Melbourne-based company said this is one of Australia’s largest pre-launch Series A rounds ever.

The startup previously raised a $6.3 million AUD (USD $4.9 million) seed round in June 2020. Zeller was was founded last year by Ben Pfisterer, Square’s former Asia Pacific and Australia head, and Dominic Yap, its strategy and growth lead. It has made 38 new hires over the past six months, growing its team to 50 people.

The funding will be used to grow Zeller’s product development and engineering capabilities, marketing and sales, and customer support teams as it prepares for its launch. A date hasn’t been set yet, but chief executive officer Pfisterer told TechCrunch it is “imminent.”

Zeller will offer a fully-integrated payments and financial services solution designed for small- to medium-sized businesses that currently rely on multiple providers for their payment terminals, point of sale systems, e-commerce payments, transaction accounts and credit cards. Zeller’s software is combined with a payment terminal, transaction account and business Mastercard, and intended to make it easier for businesses to accept and send payments, access funds and manage their finances. Zeller will have no lock-in contracts and one low fee for card payments.

“We don’t underestimate the challenges that come with scaling a new brand in an area dominated by entrenched banking incumbents, yet the opportunity is incredibly exciting,” said Pfisterer. “The industry experience our team has built up over the years means that we are well aware of the pain points business owners face when getting set up with a new banking or financial services provider.”

He added that despite the growth of e-commerce, about two-thirds of transactions are still processed in person. Zeller’s “sweet spot” is currently businesses that process up to $10 million AUD annually, mostly in face-to-face transactions.

“They may be sole traders or employ a team, may operate across one or multiple locations and come from a variety of verticals including retail, hospitality, fixed or mobile services, events, trades and many more,” said Pfisterer. He estimated that Zeller’s market opportunity in Australia includes just under 1.5 million merchants, and it is also designed to be scalable into other markets.

Other payment and financial services companies in Australia include Square, eWAY, PayPal, Ayden and Stripe.

Pfisterer said eWAY, Stripe and Adyen tend to focus on e-commerce payment processing, “yet this is just one element of what business owners need to manage their cash flow.” Most still need to accept in-person payments, which means going to a traditional bank for a merchant terminal and account. On the other hand, PayPal and Square focus mainly on micro-merchants. “The growing pains kick in when a business starts to expand and demands a wider variety of services.”

Zeller already has plans to introduce new payment and financial services products, and integrations with tools like point-of-sale and accounting software, to scale up with businesses as they grow, he added.

#australia, #financial-services, #fintech, #payments, #smes, #tc

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BukuWarung, a startup digitizing Indonesia’s SMEs, raises new funding from Rocketship.vc

BukuWarung, an Indonesian startup focused on digitizing the country’s 60 million small businesses, announced today it has raised new funding from Rocketship.vc and an Indonesian retail conglomerate.

The amount was undisclosed, but sources say it brings BukuWarung’s total funding so far to $20 million. The company’s last round, announced in September 2020, was between $10 million to $15 million. Launched in 2019, BukuWarung was founded by Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty and took part in Y Combinator last year.

Rocketship.vc is also an investor in Indian startup Khatabook, which reached a valuation between $275 million to $300 million in its last funding round. Like Khatabook, BukuWarung helps small businesses, like neigborhood stores called warung, that previously relied on paper ledgers transition to digital bookkeeping and online payments. BukuWarung recently launched Tokoko, a Shopify-like tool that lets merchants create online stores through an app, and says Tokoko has been used by 500,000 merchants so far.

Chuahan, BukuWarung’s president, said it has started making revenue through its payments solution. In total, BukuWarung now claims more than 3.5 million registered merchants in 750 Indonesian towns and cities, and says it is recording over $15 billion worth of transactions across its platform and processing over $500 million in terms of volume.

SMEs contribute about 60% to Indonesia’s gross domestic product and employ 97% of its domestic workforce, but many have difficulty accessing financial services that can help them grow. By digitizing their financial records, companies like BukuWarung can make it easier for them to access lines of credit, working capital loans and other services. Other companies serving SMEs in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, include BukuKas and CrediBook.

BukuWarung will use its new funding to grow its tech and product teams in Indonesia, India and Singapore. It plans to launch more monetization products, including credit, and grow its payments solution this year.

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

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CrediBook gets $1.5 million to help Indonesian retail wholesalers digitize their finances

CrediBook, a startup that helps Indonesian retail wholesalers digitize the financial side of their operations, has raised $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding led by Wavemaker Partners, with participation from Alpha JWC Ventures and Insignia Ventures Partners. The capital will be used for product launches and expansion into more Indonesian cities.

Founded in February 2020, CrediBook is part of a wave of startups focused on digitizing small- to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. SMEs contribute more than 60% of the country’s gross domestic product, but many still use traditional bookkeeping systems like paper ledgers. Digitizing them makes it easier for them to use services like online invoicing and payments, and keep financial records to apply for working capital loans.

Some other startups serving Indonesian SMEs include BukuKas and BukuWarung, two digital bookkeeping apps for small B2C businesses like neighborhood stores and restaurants (both have also recently raised funding). Moka and Jurnal, meanwhile, are used by larger companies. CrediBook is carving out a niche for itself by serving small-to-medium sized B2B businesses in the retail sector, including wholesalers.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Gabriel Frans told TechCrunch that the company is moving toward a profitable business model and currently has more than 500,000 customers, who use the app for bookkeeping, tracking orders from retailers and digital payments. CrediBook also works with financial services provider PayFazz, one of its seed investors, to provide financing to SMEs.

Frans said CrediBook plans to add more features, including online invoicing, to create an end-to-end platform like Tel Aviv and New York-based B2B payment startups Melio, which announced a round of funding this week that brought its valuation to $1.3 billion. “We are digitizing not only the bookkeeping, but also the invoicing and payment processing,” Frans said.

Most of CrediBook’s customers are currently concentrated in the cities of Jabodetabek and Bandung, and part of its funding will be used for building its user base in more areas. Frans said many of the startup’s customers relied on paper ledgers before signing up for CrediBook, so part of the process of convincing them to go online includes demonstrating how having more visibility into their finances can grow their businesses.

“We are very close to our users because this is a very localized market,” said Frans, who previously worked at O2O platform Kudo (now called GrabKios after its acquisition by Grab in 2017) and bookings platform Traveloka. “I was already familiar with the industry based on my previous experience, and if they try our app and experience the benefit of how it will make their day-to-day problems less, they will love it.”

#asia, #credibook, #digital-bookkeeping, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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BukuKas raises $10 million led by Sequoia Capital India to build a “end-to-end software stack” for Indonesian SMEs

The backbone of Indonesia’s economy are small- to medium-sized businesses, which account for 60% of its gross domestic product. Many still rely on manual bookkeeping, but the impact of COVID-19 has driven small businesses to digitize more of their operations. BukuKas, one of several startups helping SMEs go online, announced today it has raised a $10 million Series A led by Sequoia Capital India.

BukuKas launched in December 2019 as a digital bookkeeping app, but is growing its range of services with the goal of creating an “end-to-end software stack” for small businesses. Eventually, it wants to launch a SME-focused digital bank.

The funding, which brings BukuKas’ total raised so far to $22 million, included participation from returning investors Saison Capital, January Capital, Founderbank Capital, Cambium Grove, Endeavor Catalyst and Amrish Rau.

As of November 2020, BukuKas had a registered user base of 3.5 million small merchants and retailers, and had crossed 1.8 million monthly active users. During that month, the platform also recorded $17.4 billion worth of transactions on an annualized basis, a figure corresponding to more than 1.5% of Indonesia’s $1.04 trillion GDP.

BukuKas was founded by chief executive officer Krishnan Menon and chief operating officer Lorenzo Peracchione, who met eight years ago while working at Lazada Indonesia.

Menon’s previous startup was Fabelio, an Indonesian online home furnishings store. Every two months, he would visit smaller small cities in Indonesia, like Jepara and Cirebon, to source furniture.

“One of the things that stood out was how different the Jakarta bubble is from the rest of Indonesia, all the way from the penetration of software to financial services,” he told TechCrunch. While talking to merchants and suppliers, Menon realized that “no one is building products with them as the center of the universe,” despite the fact that there are 56 million small businesses.

Peracchione said he and Mebon had been brainstorming startup ideas for a while. “When he told me about the idea of solving cash flow visibility to SMEs, it immediately struck me,” Peracchione said. “My dad used to be a SME owner himself and during my childhood I experience first hand the struggles and ups and downs connected to running a small business.”

The two decided to start with digital bookkeeping after speaking to 1,052 merchants because helping them keep track of their business performance would generate data that would in turn enable access to more financial services.

“Our vision expanded into providing an end-to-end software stack to digitize SMEs and help them across a wide range of activities as a prequel to building an SME-focused digital bank down the line,” Menon said.

In addition to digital ledger features, BukuKas also sends payment reminders to buyers through WhatsApp and automatically generates invoices, includes an an inventory management module and analyzes expenses to help businesses understand what is impacting their profit. The company plans to add digital payments this month. During the rest of 2021, it will also introduce more features to help businesses sell online, including tools for online store fronts, a promotions engine and social sharing.

“With COVID-19, SMEs are rushing to get digitized, but they lack the right mobile-first tools to sell online as well as to manage their business,” said Menon.

The app focuses on smaller Indonesian cities and towns, since about 73% of the merchants who use BukuKas are located outside of tier 1 cities like Jakarta. Its users represent wide range of sectors, including retailers, food vendors, grocery markets, mobile and phone credit providers, social commerce sellers, wholesalers and service providers. BukuKas acquired digital ledger app Catatan Keuangan Harian, which has 300,000 monthly active users, in September 2020 to expand its market share in Indonesia.

With its large number of SMEs, Indonesia is seen as a desirable market for companies helping the drive toward digitization. For example, India’s Khatabook, which was valued between $275 million to $300 million after its last round of funding in May 2020, recently launched BukuUang in Indonesia. Other startups in the same space include Y Combinator-backed BukuWarung, Moka and Jurnal, all of which offer tools to help SMEs bring more of their operations online.

Menon said BukuKas’ advantage is its team’s experience building businesses in Indonesia over the past seven years. For example, it launched a “Know Your Profits” module based on user feedback. It also offers a self-guided onboarding process, a simple user interface and an offline mode for users in areas with poor network connections.

“In general, individual features can be copied but we believe our ‘integrated end-to-end software stack approach,’ coupled with our obsessive focus on simplicity, deep understanding of our users and a superior level of service will be key in differentiating BukuKas from competing offerings,” he added.

BukuKas’ Series A will be used on user acquisition, its engineering and product teams in Jakarta and Bangalore and to introduce new services for merchants. The company may eventually expand into other Southeast Asia markets, but “in the short term consolidating and further expanding our leadership in the SME space in Indonesia is our top priority,” said Menon.

 

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

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Indonesian fintech startup BukuWarung gets new funding to add financial services for small merchants

A month after completing Y Combinator’s accelerator program, BukuWarung, an financial tech startup that serves small businesses in Indonesia, announced it has raised new funding from a roster of high-profile investors, including partners of DST Global, Soma Capital and 20VC.

The amount of the funding was undisclosed, but a source told TechCrunch that it was between $10 million to $15 million. The new capital will be used to hire for BukuWarung’s technology team. TechCrunch first profiled BukuWarung in July.

Angel investors in the round include several high-profile founders and executives: finance technology platform Plaid’s co-founder William Hockey; Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen; Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra; Adobe chief product officer Scott Belsky; Clearbit chairman and startup advisor Josh Buckley; former Uber chief product officer Manik Gupta; Spotify’s former head of new markets in Asia Sriram Krishnan; 20VC founder Harry Stebbings; Nancy Xiao, an investor with Bond Capital; and Fast co-founder Allison Barr Allen. Angel investors from WhatsApp, Square and Airbnb also participated.

Launched last year by co-founders Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty, BukuWarung is targeted at the 60 million “micromerchants” in Indonesia, including neighborhood store (or warung) owners. The app was originally created as a replacement for pen and apper ledgers, but plans to introduce financial services including credit, savings and insurance. In August, the company integrated digital payments into its platform, enabling merchants to take customer payments from bank accounts and digital wallets like OVO and DANA. BukuWarung’s goal is to fill the same role for Indonesian merchants that KhataBook and OKCredit do in India.

 

One of the reasons BukuWarung launched digital payments was in response to customer demand for contactless transactions and instant payouts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since introducing the feature, the company said it has already processed several million U.S. dollars in total payment volume (TPV) on an annualized basis. The company says it now serves about 1.2 million merchants across 750 locations in Indonesia, focusing on tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Digital payments is also the first step into building out BukuWarung’s financial services, which will help differentiate it from other bookkeeping. The payments features is currently free and BukuWarung is experimenting with different monetization models, including making a small margin on fees.

“The reason why we launched payments is also very strategic, because there is a lot of pull in the market. We have already seen several millions annualized TPV in less than a month, because the payments we offer are cost-efficient as well and cheaper than to get from a bank,” Chauhan told TechCrunch.

“If you look at the Indian players, like Khatabook, they have also launched digital payments. The reason for that is because it’s a very essential step for building a business and monetization,” he added. “If you don’t have payments, you can’t do anything like that.”

Chauhan added that building a financial services platform is the difference between providing a utility app that replaces bookkeeping ledgers, and becoming an essential service for merchants that will eventually include lending for working capital, savings and insurance products. The bookkeeping features on BukuWarung will feed into the financial services aspect by providing data to score creditworthiness, and help small merchants, who often have difficulty securing working capital from traditional banks, get access to lines of credit.

#apps, #asia, #bookkeeping, #bukuwarung, #financial-services, #financial-tech, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #micro-merchants, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Finance and the digital divide: a conversation with Tunde Kehinde of Lidya

Small and medium businesses have been some of the hardest hit in the Covid-19 pandemic. And all that has been as true in emerging markets as it has been for SMBs in the developed world.

Tunde Kehinde has had a front-row seat witnessing and responding to that crisis. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Lidya, a startup out of Nigeria that has built a platform for SMBs to apply for and get loans and other financial services, aimed at markets on the African continent and increasingly also in emerging economies in Europe. We sat down with him as part of our new virtual Disrupt series, where we have been connecting with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech world beyond the US.

Kehinde has been called the “Jeff Bezos of Africa”, a funny title you might think sounds like tenuous or cheesy marketing until you know more about his history in business, the impact it’s had so far (he’s not that old) in the region, and until you hear him speak.

Kehinde — born in Nigeria and exposed to a lot of the US way of doing things through university years at Howard and then Harvard — was previously the co-founder of one of the biggest tech startups to have come out of the continent — Jumia — an Amazon-style marketplace that is slowly branching out into a wider web of services like payments, food delivery and more.

Initially incubated by Rocket Internet, Jumia raised hundreds of millions of dollars from VCs, scaled to multiple countries on the continent, and is now traded publicly on Nasdaq with a current market cap of $660 million — modest by Amazon standards maybe, but a real milestone for African tech.

That alone would probably merit some to wonder if he’s the “next Bezos”, but it’s been his follow-up act at Lidya that paints a broader picture. In short, there is a lot more potential for payment and online commerce services in emerging markets, and focusing on helping small businesses cross the digital chasm is not just a good business opportunity, but a developmental one, too. Capital, specifically the lack thereof, has always been a huge hindrance to growth, and these days it’s an even more critical axiom to address.

You can see the full Disrupt conversation below, where Kehinde covers a lot of ground, not just about his company but about how tech is evolving in the region.

The breakout success of a handful of startups — which include the likes of new digital payments unicorn Interswitch as well as Jumia — venturing into multiple jurisdictions, he noted, is seeing more VCs also increase their interest and investment activity. He thinks the next very important step is to have more exits, which will confer a different kind of credibility and liquidity to the market.

And there should be, he added: There are few places like the African continent that is a blank slate, where you can come in quickly and build a really dominant player, if you have the right capital and team, he said.

“It’s night and day between seven years ago and now,” he added, but also admitted that while financial services and the related world of e-commerce are obvious places to start — it was also the classic category to tackle first in the US and Europe many years earlier — he still sees more interest from VCs in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

His advice for VCs?

“If I were a VC I would look at what have been the biggest successes from folks like me,” he said. “Seeing Jumia and others going public, as more of these things happen the more you can develop a great policy and that will make it easier. I launched, I got to scale, I got return on investment, the right infrastructure can be built.”

Tune in here to hear him also talk about China and how to handle investment from outside Africa; what other big deals in loans for SMBs, such as Kabbage getting acquired by Amex, mean for startups like Lidya, the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on business; identifying opportunities beyond your immediate region; and more.

#africa, #african-tech, #disrupt, #ecommerce, #emerging-markets, #finance, #fintech, #jumia, #lidya, #loans, #nigeria, #smbs, #smes, #startups, #tc, #tcuk, #techcrunch-disrupt, #tunde-kehinde

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Jakarta-based Wahyoo gets $5 million Series A to help small eateries digitize their operations

Wahyoo’s team, including CEO Peter Shearer (third from left)

While growing up, Peter Shearer watched his mother get up every day at 2AM or 3AM to prepare for her catering business. For many people who own small food businesses in Indonesia, “everything is handled on their own, so I really, really wanted to create a system so they can have better operations and get more quality of life,” Shearer told TechCrunch.

His startup, Wahyoo, was founded in 2017 to help small eateries, called warung makan, digitize and automate more tasks, from ordering supplies to managing finances. Today, Wahyoo announced that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Intudo Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Indonesia.

Other investors in the round included Kinesys Group, Amatil X (the corporate venture program of Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the world’ five largest Coca-Cola bottlers), Arkblu Capital, Indogen Capital, Selera Kapital, Gratyo Universal Indonesia and Isenta Hioe. The capital will be used on hiring, developing Wahyoo’s tech platform and expanding beyond the Greater Jakarta area.

In a press statement about the investment, Intudo Ventures founding partner Patrick Yip said, “Small-and medium enterprises represent one of the major engines of economic growth in Indonesia and are being transformed through new innovative businesses like Wahyoo, bringing greater economic prosperity to small business owners throughout the country. Through the company’s digitization efforts, Wahyoo’s highly targeted support for warung makan businesses is creating positive economic and social impact for Indonesia’s working class.”

Wahyoo launched its app almost exactly a year ago and has onboarded about 13,800 warung makan so far. The company’s co-founders are Shearer, the chief executive officer; chief operating officer Daniel Cahyadi; and chief technology officer Michael Dihardja.

With about 268 million people, Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest markets, and there are already startups, like Warung Pintar and BakuWarung, that focus on helping warung, or small corner stores, digitize more of their operations.

Shearer said he wanted to focus on Indonesian eateries in particular because “my background is in the food industry and I love anything related to food. Second, the potential is very big because no one has tapped into this type of warung before. Everyone focuses on retail, but no one taps into the culinary business.”

Wahyoo currently employs about 170 people, including on-the-ground teams who meet with warung makan owners. The eateries are “usually run by a family, from generation to generation,” with almost all tasks performed manually, including bookkeeping and going to markets early in the morning to buy ingredients, Shearer said.

A warung makan owner on Wahyoo’s platform

Wahyoo’s features include a next-day grocery delivery service from its own warehouses and integration with Go Food, a popular delivery app. The startup also runs an education program called Wahyoo Academy, with financial courses to help warung makan owners increase customer traffic and revenue, and offers advertising and brand partnerships.

For example, a restaurant on Wahyoo’s platform can earn money by placing ad banners or brochures in their stores. That is one of the way Wahyoo monetizes. It is free to use for restaurant owners, and makes revenue by taking a percentage of brand commissions.

Another revenue stream is Wahyoo’s fried chicken franchise, which gives warung makan owners the option of opening a small stall in front of their stores. It currently has about 350 stalls and keeps costs low by partnering with one of Indonesia’s largest poultry suppliers. Shearer said the company’s goal is to increase the number of stalls to 1,000 by the end of this year.

While eateries on Wahyoo saw a drop in their business in April and May because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shearer said that it began to recover in June and July, and is now back to normal, partly because of the platform’s Go Food integration.

In the future, Wahyoo may face competition from other warung-focused startups if they decided to expand their services to restaurants as well, and new startups that want to tap into the business opportunity offered by the 59.3 million small- to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia, many of which haven’t digitized their operations yet.

Shearer said Wahyoo’s value proposition is its portfolio of complementary services. “We are basically creating an ecosystem,” he added. “We are not only focusing on the supply chain, but also our own brand. We have the fried chicken brand and in the future we will tap into financial technology and the catering business as well.”

#asia, #food, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #restaurants, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #wahyoo

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Tiger Global-backed SirionLabs launches SirionAE to make contract management easier for SMEs

Contracts contain a lot of easy-to-miss details, especially for companies that need to deal with high volumes of paperwork. At the same time, many lack access to software that makes the process easier by digitizing contracts. SirionLabs, the contract management software startup backed by Tiger Global, wants to help with a new product called SirionAE. While SirionAE is integrated into SirionLabs’ flagship contract lifestyle management (CLM) platform, it is also available as a standalone product.

Founder and chief executive officer Ajay Agrawal told TechCrunch that his company decided to offer SirionAE on its own because many clients need to create a central repository of their contract backlog before they are able to fully take advantage of CLM software.

SirionAE is meant to be a cost-effective way for companies to address that gap and “immediately democratize access to a larger set of mid-market companies who’ll now be able to avoid the high costs and durations associated with risk analysis, diligence and compliance,” Agrawal said.

Companies are already using SirionAE include Vodafone, Unilever, Credit Suisse and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). Founded in 2012, SirionLabs’ last round of funding, a $44 million Series C led by Tiger Global and Avatar Growth Capital, was announced in May, and brought the Seattle-based startup’s total raised so far to $66 million.

Close analysis of contracts is always important when doing due diligence, adhering to privacy regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and managing routine legal and operational obligations to customers and vendors.

During COVID-19, digitizing contracts into a central database has also become more important because team members are often working remotely. Parsing contracts is also especially crucial to the logistics industry because of disruptions to the global supply chain, which means suppliers and buyers who are located in different countries need to keep in close contact about their obligations to one another.

Missing contractual obligations can also be an expensive headache. SirionLabs points to research by the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) that shows poor contract management can lose companies 9% in annual revenue.

SirionLabs claims that SirionAE is able to deliver more detailed insight than competing products from other CLM providers, like Cognitiv+, Docusign’s Seal Software or Eigen Technologies, because it can capture data from more than 100 out-of-the-box fields. While some types of contracts, including non-disclosure agreements and master service agreements, are fairly standardized, others, including ones for IT services, tend to be more complex and include statement of work, appendices and other documents.

Agrawal said SirionAE’s technology, which uses neural-network based technology to constantly refine its performance, makes it easier for companies to track crucial information like obligations, service levels and pricing tables. He added that SirionAE can also effectively extract data from multi-column pages, documents written in multiple languages and even handwritten notes. That information, including risks, entitlements and obligations, is then presented on a central dashboard.

For example, a client in the telecom sector uses SirionAE to identify and help their customers understand minimum spend commitment clauses in their contracts, helping the company’s top-line and reducing disputes. Another client is using SirionAE to find volume discounts in their procurement contracts, which Agrawal said has already helped them save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

#contract-lifecycle-management, #contract-management-software, #contracts, #sirionae, #sirionlabs, #smes, #startups, #tc

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Meet BukuWarung, the bookkeeping app built for Indonesia’s 60 million “micro-merchants”

In Indonesia, there are about 60 million “micro-merchants,” typically small store owners who sell food and other staple items, and have close relationships with their customers. Many often extend informal lines of credit to shoppers, but much of their financial tracking is still done with pen and paper ledgers. Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty, the co-founders of BukuWarung, want to digitize the process with a financial platform designed especially for small Indonesian businesses. Their goal is to start with bookkeeping tools, before expanding into services including access to working capital.

The startup is currently taking part in Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program. BukuWarung has also raised seed funding from East Ventures, AC Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, Tanglin Ventures, Samporna, as well as strategic angel investors from Grab, Gojek, Flipkart, PayPal, Xendit, Rapyd, Alterra, ZEN Rooms and other companies.

Chauhan and Peddisetty met while working together at Singapore-based peer-to-peer marketplace Carousell, where they focused on developing monetization products for sellers. Chauhan also worked on products for merchants at Grab, the largest ride-sharing and on-demand delivery company in Southeast Asia. But the inspiration behind BukuWarung is also personal, because both Chauhan and Peddisetty’s families run small neighborhood stores.

“We can look at this more deeply given the experience we have monetizing merchants at Grab and Carousell,” Chauhan said. “We also know good potential exists in Indonesia, where we can help 60 million micro-merchants come online and digitize. From a macro-level, we felt this would be a huge opportunity, and there is also the personal element of being potentially being able to impact millions of merchants.”

Paper records not only make tracking finances a labor-intensive process, but also means it is harder for merchants to gain access to lines of credit. Chauhan and Peddisetty told TechCrunch that their goal is to expand the company to financial services as well, doing for Indonesian merchants what KhataBook and OKCredit have done in India. Since launching last year, BukuWarung has signed up 600,000 merchants across 750 cities and towns in Indonesia and currently has about 200,000 monthly average users. The founders say their goal is to reach all 60 million micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. It has already made its first acquisition: Lunasbos, one of the first Indonesian credit tracking apps.

BukuWarung founders Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty

While preparing to launch BukuWarung, the founders traveled through Indonesia, speaking to almost 400 merchants about their challenges with bookkeeping, credit tracing and accounting. Based on those conversations, the two decided to start by focusing on a bookkeeping app, which launched 10 months ago.

Despite a partial lockdown in Indonesia from April to June, BukuWarung continued to grow because most of its users sell daily necessities, like groceries. In smaller cities and villages, merchants often offer credit lines because their customers’ cash flow is very tight, and many do not have a regular monthly paycheck, Chauhan said. “Everyone is buying and selling on credit, that is something we validated in our research.”

Then there is the community aspect, where many merchants are close to their customers.

“This changes depending on the location of the business, but business owners have often known a lot of people in their neighborhoods for a long time, and when it comes to credit, they typically offer 500 Indonesian rupiah all the way up to about one million rupiah [about USD $70.56],” Chauhan said. But when it’s time to settle bills, which often means going to customers’ homes and asking for payment, many merchants feel hesitant, he added.

“They will never chase or call the person. The app we built sends automatic reminders to customers, and this ‘soft message’ really helps merchants not feel shy while at the same time professionally giving customer reminders.”

While talking to merchants, BukuWarung’s founders also realized that many were using pay-as-you-go data plans and lower-end smartphones. Therefore, their app needed to be as lightweight as possible, and work offline so users could access and update their records anytime. This focus on making their app take up as little data and space as possible differentiates them from other bookkeeping apps, the founders said, and helps them sign up and retain users in Indonesia.

Chauhan and Peddisetty said the company will partner with financial tech companies as it grows  to give users access to online payment systems, including digital wallets, and financing.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Y Combinator partner Gustaf Alströmer said, “Building digital infrastructure for emerging economies is a huge opportunity, especially in the post-COVID world. And we believe BukuWarung is a team that can take on this challenge. We have seen this journey before with Khatabook and OkCredit in India and see that BukuWarung is on a similar growth trajectory to empower micro-businesses in Indonesia.”

 

#apps, #asia, #bookkeeping, #bukuwarung, #financial-services, #fintech, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Southeast Asian lending platform Validus raises $20 million for its Series B+ round

Small- to medium-sized businesses are one of the most important parts of Southeast Asia’s economy, but many have trouble securing growth capital from traditional financial institutions. Validus wants to fix the financing gap with its peer-to-peer lending platform, which connects accredited lenders with SMEs. The Singapore-based startup announced today that it has raised $20 million for its ongoing Series B+ round.

The funding was co-led by Vertex Growth fund and Kuok Group’s Orion Fund, which is managed by K3 Venture Partners. Returning investors in the round include FMO, the international development bank of the Netherlands; Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India; Openspace Ventures; AddVentures; and VinaCapital Ventures.

This brings Validus’ total raised to about $40 million since it was founded in 2015, including a $15.2 million Series B round announced last year.

After getting its capital markets services license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in December 2017, Validus launched services in Indonesia and Vietnam and says it has lent over $315 million to businesses so far. Its plans for its Series B+ round include expanding into Thailand during the last quarter of this year. Validus’ credit risk model analyzes information from invoices, contracts and cash flow.

Co-founder and COO Nikhilesh Goel says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has seen more demand for short-term financing, with a 50% year-over-year increase for credit-approved unsecured loans over the past few months.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, loan performance has held steady, he added, because Validus focuses on corporate vendor financing for SMEs whose end-buyers are large corporations or government-linked entities.

Validus also plans to provide financing to SMEs that are on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19, including working capital for SMEs in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, and logistics and cleaning services.

“Through working closely with corporate partners and investors on the platform, we also aim to support SMEs who are pivoting their businesses to adapt to services and products that are required in this time,” Goel said. “In the last month, we have disbursed multiple such loans averaging $250,000 to $500,000, to support SMEs’ efforts in meeting the demand for face masks and other protective gear in short supply.”

In a press statement, MX Kuok of K3 Ventures said, “We are highly impressed by the leadership and depth of credit management experience at Validus. The team has demonstrated the unique ability to capture critical data points, combined with comprehensive machine learning capabilities, to identify high-potential SMEs that may have fallen through the gaps of the traditional banking model.”

#fintech, #fundings-exits, #p2p-lending, #singapore, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #validus

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