Author: vivian

Singapore cultured milk startup TurtleTree secures US$6.2 million Pre-Series A round

TurtleTree Labs, a cell-based milk creator, has secured US$6.2 million in an oversubscribed pre-Series A funding round. Investors participating in the round include Eat Beyond Global, Green Monday Ventures, KBW Ventures, and Verso Capital.

Following this latest round, Saudi HRH Prince Khaled bin Talal Al Saud, a vegan who is an investor in the alternative protein sector through KBW Ventures, will also join TurtleTree as an advisor on market growth plans.

For TurtleTree Labs, this is the third capital fundraising in the year, adding to the US$3.2 million raised in its June seed funding, and its undisclosed pre-seed round in January which was led by Lever VC, with participation from KBW Ventures and K2 Global.

The Singapore-based biotech startup plans to invest the capital raised to research and produce functional bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human breast milk, which are said to be components that are beneficial for gut and brain health.

The startup produces cell-based milk by isolating stem cells from milk and proliferating them, before placing them into a lactation media, an environment similar to a breast, causing the cells to lactate and produce the end-product of milk.

TurtleTree’s Co-founder and CEO Fengru Lin told FoodNavigator-USA, “On top of being able to optimize our process for scale, we are now working with global manufacturing partners who have capabilities to produce enough for our potential agreements.”

“Currently, we are in discussions with potential partners to include TurtleTree’s functional ingredients in health food products. These high-value components have potential benefits in gut and brain health, which can be applied to both infant and senior nutrition.”

Based on a report from Fortune Business Insights, the infant formula market was forecast to grow to US$107.3 billion by 2026. That is a compound annual growth rate of 10.85 percent a year, from S$45.12 billion in 2018.

For now, TurtleTree said it plans to focus on producing human breast milk first, before moving on to cow milk.

Moving on, the plan for the startup is to adopt a business model of technology licensing. The startup doesn’t necessarily have to produce milk and instead will be working with leading dairy processors, equipment suppliers, and CPG brands, added Lin.

“We are looking at a licensing and royalty model, we want to be the R&D hub for the industry,” said Max Rye, the Co-founder of TurtleTree Labs.

“Some conversations with potential partners are now very advanced, we’ve been talking for at least eight months, and others ae very early stage. We want to work with multiple companies, not do exclusive deals, so the licensing model is built around that.”

The startup also said it expects to find a market for its product within the city-state of Singapore which faces the limitations of having grazing land for cattle and has to source outwards for its appetite for dairy products such as cheese.

It has also received support from the Singapore government, which is pursuing a 30 by 30 policy of having the city-state produce 30 percent of its food by 2030, up from its current 10 percent. This policy was given greater urgency after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply and logistic chains globally.

Singapore’s Co-living startup Cove secures US$4.6 million in Series A funding

Cove, a co-living startup based in Singapore revealed today that it has closed its Series A funding round at US$4.6 million. Keppel Land, the real estate arm of Keppel Corporation, a conglomerate listed on the Singapore exchange board has led the round.

Other notable investors joining the round also include Antler, Venturra Capital, Yuj Ventures, Picus Capital, Found Ventures, and Idinvest Partners, a Eurazeo Group subsidiary and one of Europe’s largest private equity investors.

Tan Swee Yiow, the CEO of Keppel Land, says, “This investment is in line with Keppel’s Vision 2030 and Keppel Land’s strategy, where we seek to offer a full suite of urban living solutions that are driven by technology and highly complementary to our core real estate business.”

Founded in 2018, Cove is a startup providing co-living options for young professionals and students in Southeast Asia. The startup currently has about 300 move-in ready rooms and studios in Singapore and 250 rooms in Jakarta.

Its biggest project to date is a 138 room, purpose-built co-living space for students, that has been co-developed with Indonesian real estate giant Lippo Group.

According to DealStreetAssia, Cove did not reveal figures on how the recent pandemic has affected its occupancy rates but said that the startup has remained resilient since people still need affordable housing options.

The Singaporean startup offers flexible monthly contracts for tenants, who can book their stay through the company’s app or its online listing platform. This removes the middlemen in the process and allows the startup to offer its stay at a more affordable price.

“Co-living is a different proposition to short-term stay, meeting very different needs for the consumer. As we’ve been a pure co-living player from the start, we understand deeply how to cater to that market and make the business model work for us and our property owners,” shared Sophie Jokelson, the co-founder of Cove.

Asa a matter of fact, Cove sees the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to double down on the segment, adding that the flexibility of their solutions has been beneficial to their tenants who are now facing more uncertainty during this pandemic.

With this funding round, Cove plans to use the capital financing to increase its room count and expand its geographical footprint. It plans to double its offering to 1,000 rooms across its two cities by the first half of 2021, and expand in new markets like Vietnam and the Philippines.

“We are fortunate to have found such high-caliber partners who share our vision. The team is more committed than ever to providing thousands of awesome urban living experiences and playing our part in fueling the growth of this region’s economic centers,” said Cuillaume Castagne, the co-founder and CEO of Cove.

In Southeast Asia, Cove competes with Hmlet and Similarly based in Singapore, Hmlet last raised a US$40 million Series B financing round led by Burda Principal Partners and joined by Sequoia India, Mitsubishi Real Estate, and Reinventrue.

Meanwhile, Jungle Ventures-backed has raised US$4.5 million in funding to date and has plans to expand further into Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Malaysia’s used car platform Carsome raises US$30 million Series D led by Asia Partners

Carsome, a Southeast Asian used car platform has raised US$30 million in its latest Series D financing. The round was led by Asia Partners and joined by existing Carsome investors, which includes Burda Principal Investments (BPI) and Ondine Capital.

According to the company, this is one of the largest all-equity financings to date in Southeast Asia’s online automotive industry.

Oliver M Rippel, Asia Partners’s Co-founder and a former executive at Naspers commented on the deal, saying that the business has a combination of strong executive leadership and a robust business model.

“Carsome’s integrated approach which offers a one-stop solution to used car buyers and sellers is genuinely impressive,” said Rippel. “We see that this will be the way forward for the used-car industry, and we look forward to working closely with Eric and his very capable team in further scaling the business across the region.”

Founded in 2015, Carsome is based in Malaysia with operations found in Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. It has a regional network spanning 6,000 car dealerships and acts as a platform connecting auto dealers with individuals who are looking to sell their vehicles.

Previously, the company recorded a transaction of over 70,000 used cars per year with a transaction value worth over US$600 million.

However, since the pandemic has noted its highest-ever quarterly revenue growth in Q3 2020 with the month of November 2020 recording 100,000 cars sold through the platform.

The Malaysia-based company also claims to have doubled its monthly revenue in the last six months due to the ongoing pandemic that has resulted in a change in consumer behavior across Southeast Asia that is avoiding ride-hailing and public transport.

Eric Cheng, the co-founder and Group CEO of Carsome said the financing will help strengthen the company’s regional leadership in consumer-to-business (C2B) used car e-commerce and accelerate new offerings in the B2C segment.

Juliet Zhu, Carsome Group’s chief financial officer said the business has achieved operational profitability ahead of its earlier projections in October this year.

“We have built a defensible, scalable, and profitable business with very healthy unit economics, attributable to both growth in gross margin and steady improvements in productivity and conversion metrics,” said Zhu.

The used car platform also revealed in its recent interview with Financial Times that the company has made plans for an initial public offering in the United States in 2022.

“The pandemic has definitely accelerated our business. We expect to be profitable across the group next year. Then we want to list on a major exchange like Nasdaq,” said Cheng. According to research firm GlobalData, Southeast Asia’s used car market is projected to grow significantly post COVID-19.

Carsome has last raised US$50 million in debt and equity in its Series C round in December 2019, joined by Japan’s MUFG Innovation Partners, Daiwa PI Partners, Endeavor Catalysts, Ondine Capital, Gobi Partners, and Convergence Ventures.

The startup currently competes with a number of players, including Indonesia’s BeliMobilGue and Singapore’s Carro who has also in the month of October secured US$110.5 million in debt financing facilities as backed by Mitsubishi Corporation and MS&AD Ventures.’s eCommerce and online retail unit Yunwang Wandian secures US$912 million in Series A funding, one of China’s largest retailers said that Yunwang Wandian, its eCommerce and online retail arm has secured 6 billion yuan (approx. US$912.3 million) in a Series A financing round as the business is looking to consolidate and build leverage on both the company’s online and offline resources.

The new financing will give the retail arm access to strategic resources and strong financial support, which can help it expand client acquisition, increase investment in research and developmental projects, as well as enhance the platform operations capability, and improve service quality.

Based on a filing disclosed to the Shenzhen stock exchange on December 1, the round was based on a pre-money valuation of 25 billion yuan (approx. US$3.8 billion) and led by Chinese government-guided investment firm Shenzhen Capital Group.

Yunwang Wandian entered into the fundraising agreement with a group of domestic institutional firms including a Chinese state-owned vehicle backed by Southern China’s Luohu Government, a fund managed by Beijing-based Fengyun Capital, and SenseRobot Management.

V Star Capital, Central China International Asset Management, the asset management unit of Hong Kong-based Central China International, and global investment firm Softfir Capital among others, also participated in the fundraising. Following the deal, Yunwang Wandian will remain a majority-owned subsidiary of

With a 30-year legacy of commitment to exceptional customer service, Suning has evolved its offering over the years to meet the changing demands of consumers.

Starting as a traditional retailer, found its roots as an air conditioning specialty store before quickly evolving into a chain retailer, then entered the eCommerce space, before finally entering its fourth decade of operations as a retail service provider.

The Nanjing-based retailer set up Yunwang Wandian, which translates to bridging tens of thousands of shops, in November 2020 to take care of’s internet platform business.

Yunwang Wandian will use its parent’s information technology infrastructure while’s supply chain and logistics unit will provide services to the new subsidiary.

The unit serves to provide individuals, dealers, suppliers, and merchants with e-commerce and internet retail solutions covering supply chain, logistics, aftersales, and everything in between. It is set up to help both brands and retailers shift into digital technology and eCommerce, and provides an ecosystem that consists of large-scale distribution and connectivity. expects the development of the venture to bring efficiency in scaling advancements and is heavily invested in areas of the supply chain, logistics, and IT infrastructure.

“The firm’s 30-year development itself represents the history of the Chinese retail industry,” said Lou Yang, the vice president of Chinese investment bank Lighthouse Capital.

He added that the birth of Yunwang Wandian represents’s efforts to build an integrated, comprehensive retail platform that can empower small businesses with customizing online retail solutions. has posted a revenue of 62.4 billion yuan (approx. US$9.5 billion) in the third quarter of 2020, which is down 4.58 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Its net profit attributable to shareholders stood at 713.7 million yuan (approx. US$108.6)

BRI Ventures secure US$10.6 million first close on new Indonesian Tech fund

BRI Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Indonesian microfinance institution Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), said that it has secured the first close of its first venture fund Sembrani Nusantara at over Rp150 billion (approx. US$10.6 million).

Investors who have participated in the fund, include Southeast Asian ride-hailing platform Grab Holdings Inc., Indonesian venture capital firm Celebes Capital, Fazz Financial Group, fintech P2P platform Investree, as well as serial investor Pando Sjahrir.

“We have been heartened by the response from Sembrani Nusantara Fund’s investors on the first close,” said Nicko Widjaja, the CEO of BRI Ventures.

“The fund’s backers are primarily Indonesians with experience investing in startups and venture funds. Some are startup founders themselves, who believe in our goal to build a pipeline of future, sustainable Indonesian champions,” he added.

According to BRI Ventures, Sembrani Nusantara Fund plans to use the new funding capital on early-stage investments focusing on fintech, and particularly for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

This plays into BRI’s strength as the world’s largest microfinance institution while aligning with the fund’s EARTH investment theme that represents sectors of education, agro-maritime, retail, transportation, and healthcare.

Managing Director of Grab Indonesia Neneng Goenadi commented on the deal, saying that, “The Sembrani Nusantara Fund managed by BRI Ventures shares our vision of building a robust and thriving tech ecosystem in Indonesia.”

“We want to help Indonesia-made tech and Indonesian startups to take the spotlight on the world stage and are committed to supporting this goal through funding, mentorship, and capability-building.”

Launched in June 2020 with a target corpus of Rp 300 billion (approx. US$21.2 million), Sembrani Nusantara currently operates like a mutual fund, as the limited partner-general partner legal structure is yet to exist for Indonesian funds.

“Given our investors’ collective goal of supporting the local digital economy and building a class of IPO-worthy startups, BRI Vetnreus recognizes that Sembrani Nusantara Fund may play a more active role in the local funding landscape in the future and build a venture capital industry that is competitive with Singapore,” Widjaja further added.

According to a 2019 INSEAD report, only seven out of 131 startup exits across ASEAN in 2018 were done through IPOs, while the majority of startups chose to exit via acquisition.

That’s why in addition to Sembrani Nusantara’s initiative, BRI Ventures had also partnered with the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) to help more local startups pursue initial public offering (IPOs) on the local stock exchange.

Through this collaboration, the company runs two programs, namely the Joint Accelerator and Pre-IPO Round Process as an accelerator program for IPO preparation.

To date, BRI Ventures has invested in many startups in Indonesia ranging from seed round to series A. Its investment portfolio includes TaniHub, Investree, Modalku, Ayoconnect, LinkAja, Modalku, Nium, PayFazz, and others.

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