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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Indonesian VC firm East Ventures raises US$550m to focus on SEA startups

Jakarta, Indonesia – East Ventures, an Indonesian venture capital firm, has raised US$550 to focus on growing its portfolio by focusing on startups based in Southeast Asia, including locally in Indonesia.

The firm is managing over US$1b in assets under management and attracted US$6.7b in follow-on funding for the portfolio companies. East Ventures recorded more than US$86b of annualised GMV in aggregate by its portfolio. The firm will also ensure the incorporation of sustainability aspects in every practice and usage of the funds.

Willson Cuaca, co-founder and managing partner at East Ventures, said, “We are very bullish about Indonesia yet mindful of the global market condition. We have built a strong return track record for more than a decade and as the ecosystem flywheel effect kicks in. East Ventures is well-positioned to ride on it. We have been transforming ourselves from a seed-stage investor into a multi-stage investor and into becoming an efficient and robust platform to support entrepreneurship. We will allocate US$150m for early-stage deals and US$400m for growth-stage deals.”

Meanwhile, Roderick Purwana, managing partner at East Ventures, commented, “As Indonesia navigates and comes to terms with the post-pandemic era, rising digital adoption has pushed for advances in many sectors in the ecosystem. During this time, thanks to the continuous support from all relevant stakeholders, Indonesia is among the fastest-growing digital economies in Southeast Asia. Digitalization in Indonesia has become more robust, with 73.7% of internet penetration rate in 2021 and more equal digital competitiveness across the regions as shown by the increased EV-DCI score from 2020-2022.” 

He added, “We also saw the IPOs of some of Indonesia’s largest tech companies in recent timesーa significant milestone in paving the way for other startups in the country to follow suit. We believe the strong initiatives made by the relevant stakeholders, such as the government in promoting digitalization through G20 Presidency, will further elevate the tech ecosystem and create even greater investment opportunities in Indonesia. At East Ventures, we will continue to double down our investments in Indonesia.”

East Ventures has launched many strategic initiatives in supporting the overall progress and development of Indonesia, including supporting the digital transformation through its annual East Ventures – Digital Competitiveness Index report; and ensuring the sustainable investment and practices by being the first venture capital in Indonesia to sign the Principle of Responsible Investment (PRI), a UN-supported network of investors, and actively involved in many strategic initiatives to support the stakeholders, including government, business players, and society as a whole.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s NextPay bags US$125K funding for scaling operations among local MSMEs

Manila, Philippines – NextPay, a Philippine-based fintech startup, has secured a US$125K investment funding from startup accelerator Y Combinator, which will be used to expand NextPay’s services further and address the growing problem of financially-underserved businesses in the Philippines. 

Through the investment, NextPay founders aim to leverage their previous experience working in ‘unicorn’ companies to expand their line of digital banking services. Their plans include new digital solutions for payments, credit, and personal cash management.

“Our goal is to empower smaller businesses with a spectrum of banking services that were previously unavailable to them because of the steep requirements and high fees that are typically aimed at larger, more developed companies that can afford them. This funding round from Y Combinator allows us to scale even faster to bring digital financial services closer to MSMEs,” said Don Pansacola, CEO and co-founder at NextPay.

The platform allows small businesses to have the same financial capabilities as large banks, which gives growing companies access to affordable financial services such as digital invoicing, cash management, and batch payments to any bank or e-wallet in the Philippines.

Furthermore, the startup has positioned itself to enable more businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers to centralize all their financial requirements through one easy-to-use, affordable, and inclusive platform. 

“We plan to introduce more payment acceptance methods, virtual credit cards, and other digital solutions that enable businesses to manage their cash flow and alleviate the bottlenecks of the Philippine financial landscape. We will also partner with human resource and accounting software companies to further streamline the financial operations of a growing company,” Pansacola added.

According to Aldrich Tan, co-founder and chief experience officer at NextPay, the platform aims to give a wider opportunity among small businesses through accessible digital financial services.

“Through our platform, MSMEs can conduct their transactions seamlessly and allow business owners to free up resources and focus on their operations. This optimization and focus are vital in supporting and strengthening the country’s efforts towards economic recovery,” Tan stated.

Since its launch in 2020, NextPay has processed over US$2.5M (₱120M) in digital transactions for more than 100 businesses. Customers of NextPay can enjoy reduced processing times from as much as 3 days to just 30 minutes. 

“NextPay wants to help the Philippines bounce back. We want to enable growing enterprises to maximize their capital, reach more customers, and generate more jobs and opportunities. This then stimulates economic transactions and creates demand for stronger partnerships. It’s a domino effect, but it starts from having a digital platform like NextPay who empowers MSMEs to thrive and do more,” Pansacola concluded.

NextPay is the fifth Filipino startup to have received funding from Y Combinator, with companies including job searching platform Kalibrr, payment platform PayMongo, edtech Avion School, and laboratory software company Dashlabs.ai.

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SME Featured ANZ

Aussie startup Metigy’s latest funding round aims to take SME reach globally

Sydney, Australia – SME marketing company Metigy in Australia has recently concluded its funding round, which the startup will use in expanding its services globally.

The funding, closing at USD 20M, will be initially used to expand its business to the United States and Southeast Asia, specifically in Singapore. Furthermore, the funding will also aid in growing the company’s product and engineering teams in Australia.

We’ve had fantastic growth so far but it’s just the beginning — there’s a massive opportunity to help the nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S. and 150 million businesses across South East Asia. According to Google, 97% of SEAsian SMEs have no ad tech or martech solutions and also lack the supply of talent to meet that demand. Innovative technology developed with the SME in mind is the only way to solve this problem

David Fairfull (pictured left), CEO and co-founder at Metigy

He also added,“We created Metigy to make digital marketing an effective tool for all types of businesses, not just those with massive marketing budgets. Half of all small businesses fail within the first two years, and marketing — or a lack of effective marketing — is always one of the key reasons. We want to improve those odds and give them a fighting chance.”

The startup is working closely with Google and telecommunications company Optus, and has created strategic partnerships with companies such as Singapore’s SingTel, who co-sell Metigy’s tools to add value to their own business customer relationships.

Speaking about the funding round, Darien Jagger, lead investor at Cygnet Capital, states that Metigy’s fast expansion pushed the venture capital to invest in the startup.

“Cygnet was an early-stage investor in Metigy and after seeing their impressive growth, it absolutely made sense to lead this current raise. Completing the raise 100% oversubscribed in this market with an all Australian investor group is a testament to the solid business the team has built. Strategically, this also places Metigy firmly on the path to remaining Australian based,” Jagger stated.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

SEA venture capital firm Openspace Ventures appoints new senior team members

Singapore – Openspace Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in technology opportunities in Southeast Asia has appointed former Walt Disney’s APAC head for business development Jessica Huang Pouleur as its new executive director, while finance and investment executive Aristo Setiawidjaja has been tapped as the company’s senior advisor for Indonesia.

The company said that the new appointments come as the team expands its portfolio of investments in the region.

Aside from the executive director position, Pouleur will be joining as a member of the investment committee of OSV+, the company’s newly established opportunity fund focused on mid-stage technology investing.

For over ten years, Pouleur has been focused on Southeast Asian opportunities in telecommunications, media, and technology. As Walt Disney’s head of strategy and business development for APAC, Pouleur led and oversaw strategic initiatives and managed Disney’s investment and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity across the region including key aspects of its 17 billion US dollar acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Before that, she was with Providence Equity Partners as director based in Singapore, leading the evaluation and management of growth-stage investment opportunities across the SEA region.   

Meanwhile, Setiawidjaja is a board member and managing director of hospital network Hermina Hospitals in Indonesia amid joining Openspace Ventures. Prior to that, he was a director at investment firm Olympus Capital.

Poeleur, commenting on her appointment, “Southeast Asia is evolving rapidly as a market and my experience at Disney and Providence has given me a great perspective on the exciting opportunity set. Good investment opportunities start with a clear understanding of diverse regional consumer dynamics supported by relevant product development and leading technology. I am excited to join Openspace where I have known the Partners for a long time and watched with admiration as their team has helped build some of the best companies in the region.

Meanwhile, Setiawidjaja said, “As we deal with the new normal due to COVID and rethink how daily life will change in its aftermath, there are plenty of emerging opportunities in Indonesia and the region. I am looking forward to contributing my perspectives to Openspace in sectors it is investing in, which coincide with my domain knowledge of the sectors.”

Shane Chesson, founding partner at Openspace remarked, “Openspace is now operating four funds across the region with a team of 25 diverse individuals delivering on the unique requirements of technology investing in Southeast Asia. We welcome our new team members who add to this diversity and skill set. The investment environment is attractive during this phase and we will keep executing on our busy pipeline.”