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Indonesian unicorn Traveloka turns profitable in end-2020, looks to enter public market via SPAC

Indonesian travel unicorn Traveloka noted on Tuesday that it has successfully turned a profit amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently finalizing its plan to go public.

“In pandemic struck 2020, Traveloka managed to reach profitability at the end of the year while continuously working closely with governments across the Southeast Asian markets in a bid to revive economies,” the company said.

Traveloka did not offer details on how they managed to achieve this feat in a period that has affected many companies.

However, one of its early investors, Wilson Cuaca had told DealStreetAsia that Traveloka has cut its expenses to a low single-digit million dollars quarterly during the crisis.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Traveloka which offers accommodation and transport reservations, as well as experiences and activities has cut over 100 jobs and closed the operations of its affiliate budget hotel startup Airy Rooms.

Also, despite the slowdown in business, Traveloka has managed to raise US$250 million led by an undisclosed global financial institution, believed to be Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and was later joined by existing investors including EV Growth.

The travel unicorn has since seen a notable recovery and rebound in the travel industry, whereby the company’s president, Caesar Indra noted that the startup has reportedly recovered with its business in Vietnam and even surpassed pre-COVID 19 levels, while it’s nearly back to normal levels in Thailand and is at a half pre-COVID level in Indonesia.

“The worst has happened and now we’re well prepared for 2021. Domestic travel is driving the recovery,” Indra said.

“The plan is to invest in fintech in a big way to allow more consumers to travel in the region and this has returned the travel business back to profitability in late 2020.”

In fact, this has put it in a favorable position to march towards an IPO.

Traveloka co-founder and CEO Ferry Unardi had revealed news about the IPO in an interview with Bloomberg TV that the company is planning to list in the United States this year to raise funds through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

“US markets have become more appealing because there’s more and more appreciation of Southeast Asia as a flourishing region, and by listing in the US, we can also provide an opportunity for US investors to become part of Southeast Asia’s growth story,” Unardi said.

In recent news, Traveloka also said it is working on plans to launch “buy now, pay later” services in Thailand and Vietnam where the company claims it has 40 million active monthly users.

Indra has also shared that the company has formed a joint venture with one of the largest banks in Thailand to collaborate in the fintech space, and is also talking to potential partners in Vietnam.

The company had a similar two-year service in Indonesia, launched after the firm found that customers would have to wait until their salary payday to book their travels. So far, the service has already facilitated more than 6 million dolloar worth of loans to date.

Warung Pintar acquires supply chain platform Bizzy Digital for US$45 million

Indonesia’s mico-retail tech startup Warung Pintar has recently announced that it has acquired Bizzy Digital, an integrated B2B eCommerce firm in a deal worth US$45 million.

Despite this being an acquisition, Bizzy Digital will still remain a separate entity as a brand and organization.

Instead, the deal is more focused on bringing together Warung Pintar from the demand-side and Bizzy Digital from the supply-side to create a full-stack supply chain platform.

“As Bizzy Digital becomes part of Warung Pintar, there will be no other player as integrated up and down the supply chain,” said Andrew Mawikere, the CEO of Bizzy Digital. “The combination will enable us to serve brands and distributors with unprecedented value-added, data-driven strategy at scale.”

Specifically, this partnership combines Warung Pintar’s front-end retail digitalization strengths with Bizzy’s supply chain capabilities in FMCG distribution, creating a strong synergy and efficiency for Indonesia’s mom and pops stores.

Agung Bezharie, the CEO and Co-founder of Warung Pintar commented on the deal, saying that “Through this acquisition, we hope to change the digital distribution approach in the field, which currently relies heavily on promotions and discounts for customer acquisition.”

He further added that “having Bizzy Digital as part of the bigger Warung Pintar ecosystem will enable us to guarantee product reliability, availability, and fair pricing by working directly with the brand’s distributors.”

This will support Warung Pintar’s plan to build deeper connections with shop owners through payment services.

Following this acquisition, Warung Pintar will also gain access to a combined pool of 600 brands and serve 230,000 retailers in 65 cities across Indonesia. Not to mention, a larger shareholder foundation to support growth moving forward.

Founded in 2017, Warung Pintar to date has raised a total of US$35.5 million in funding capital from backers and investors including East Ventures, Vertex Ventures, Pavilion Capital, Line Ventures, OVO, SMDV, and Agaeti among some.

The retail tech startup had also last acquired Limakilo, a food supply chain platform connecting farmers to food stalls and vendors back in 2019.

Despite the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic in 2020, Warung Pintar continues to see an increase in the numbers of retail kiosks (warung) to 60,000 in November 2020.

Moving forward for Q1 2021, Warung Pintar plans to acquire 300,000 kiosks. With this timely acquisition laying the foundation, the startup is looking to expand to all tier 2 and 3 cities across the country.

The B2B eCommerce market in Indonesia still has enormous potential and room to grow. It is expected to increase at least three times the size of startups in the B2C counterparts.

Indian Edtech Unicorns continue acquisition spree in 2021

In 2021, edtech unicorns in India, Byju and Unacademy, remain active in their acquisition of smaller rival online learning startups.

The two unicorns have been in talks to acquire smaller rival online learning startups, with one of the latest acquisitions being WhiteHatJr, an online coding school for young kids which Byju has acquired for US$300 million last August.

Byju is also currently in close discussion with Toppr which might result in a US$150 to US$160 million deal. Like Byju, Toppr operates in the K12 (Kindergarten to Class 12) learning space and provides online learning materials as a service.

If the deal is successful, this will lead to further consolidation in the sector and provide an exit to its backers which include SAIF Partners and Helion Ventures.

“Business momentum for Byju’s has not slowed down even beyond the pandemic. With the Toppr acquisition, Byju’s will strengthen its focus in the K-12 space,” reported DealStreetAsia, further adding that this deal will bring massive value to Byju and that the unicorn is now eyeing both international expansion and strategic inorganic growth.

On the other hand, Byju is also closing another transaction to buy offline test preparation firm Aakash Educational Services for US$1 billion.

Meanwhile, Unacademy which only became a unicorn last year after receiving a valuation of around US$2 billion, has also been on an acquisition spree.

The edtech unicorn has acquired multiple startups in recent months including NeoStencil, PrepLadder, Mastree, Kreatryx, CodeChef, and Coursavy which are primarily involved in the test prep space.

Both edtech unicorns Byju and Unacademy has benefited from the pandemic-led lockdown which has facilitated learning to go online. The two had raised multiple rounds of fundings last year with Byju securing over US$1.25 billion in 2020 and is currently valued at US$12 billion.

In 2020, Indian edtech firms raised US$2.1 billion, which counts as the highest of all sectors. It was almost 5x more than the US$426 million in 2019, according to data by Venture Intelligence.

During an interview with DealStreetAsia, Unacademy’s Founder and CEO Gaurav Munjal said that the startup was still looking for 2 to 3 more acquisitions in the pipeline. “We are looking for a team or a particularly unique selling proposition that they have, but we don’t,” he said.

Based on a report by Anand Rathi Investment Banking, India’s edtech sector is set to reach US$12 billion by 2025 on the back of continued investor interest, rising urbanization, and internet users among other factors.

Thailand’s SCB 10X to establish US$50 million blockchain-focused fund

SCB 10X, the digital technology investment arm of Thailand’s oldest bank Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), recently revealed that it has set up a new venture capital fund worth US$50 million to invest in emerging financial technology.

Specifically, the corporate venture capital (CVC) firm will use the new capital to invest in global early and growth-stage blockchain, decentralized finance (Defi), and digital asset startups.

This latest move is said to advance its “Moonshot Mission” that focuses on supporting the growth of next-generation financial services as the bank prepares for the digital financial systems of the future.

“In the financial industry, blockchain-enabled financial services have the potential to broaden financial inclusion, facilitate open access, and encourage innovation,” said Mukaya Panich, SCB 10X Chief Venture, and Investment officer.

“We see strong parallels between traditional finance and blockchain-enabled financial services businesses. Blockchain technology can make financial services more innovative, interoperable, traceable, borderless, and transparent.”

In an interview with DealStreetAsia, Panich has also said that the investment firm was looking to ramp up investments in sectors that are poised to benefit from the new normal, citing the five themes of digital payments, remote work, digital lifestyle, health tech, and AI and robotics.

SBC 10X was launched in January 2020 to invest in technology startups internationally under three branches: venture builder, venture capital, and strategic investment and partnership.

So far, the VC firm already has a record of early investments in several top companies operating across the new frontier of finance, including cryptocurrency lending platforms BlockFi and international payments giant Ripple.

Additionally, the CVC firm’s investment portfolio also consists of controlling stakes in three Thai tech firms, which are Digital Ventures, Abacus, and Monix.

Most recently, SCB 10X was the main investor in Thai fintech firm SYNQA, the startup behind the Omise payment solutions and the blockchain-based OMG Network, formerly known as OmiseGO.

Arthid Nantawittaya, the Chairman of SBC10X and Chief Executive Officer of Siam Bank Commercial Bank PCL also said the bank has a customer base of over 16 million people with 10 million of which are digital banking customers, as well as a strong network of business entrepreneurs who are industry think-tanks to share new innovations and ideas.

Within the fintech market in Thailand, the largest sector, according to recent estimates, is the digital payments sector with a total transaction value of $15.93 million.

While the details of potential companies to be included in this fund remains unknown at the moment, SCB 10X’s Mukyaphanich said that features of blockchain infrastructure would be a prerequisite.

Indonesia’s Bookkeeping Service Provider BukuWarung Secures Funding from Silicon-Valley investor

Indonesia’s BukuWarung, a digital bookkeeping startup for micro-enterprises, today revealed that it has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from and Indonesian retail giant Revolut., a Silicon Valley-based global investor is also a backer in Khatabook, an Indian market leader in the digital bookkeeping space which has reached a valuation of between US$275 million to US$300 million in its last funding round.

While the financial terms of BukuWarung’s round remain unknown, the startup did share that the funds raised were greater than the previous funding it received after joining the Y Combinator program in September 2020. Sources from DealStreetAsia also note that this latest funding round brings the total investment received by BukuWarung to US$20 million.

To date, the startup backers including Y-Combinator, Quona Capital, East Ventures, AC Ventures, DST Global Partners, Golden Gate Ventures, and Tanglin Venture Partners.

As a matter of fact, the startup has become a portfolio of several well-known venture capital companies including East Ventures, AC Ventures, Quona Capital, Golden Gate Ventures, DST Global Partners, and Tanglin Venture Partners. Meanwhile, angel investors such as Michael Sampoerna and Plaid Co-founder William Hockey are also known backers of this startup.

Founded in 2019 by Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty, BukuWarung provides a bookkeeping application, payment solutions, and online sales for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through its applications.

Specifically, BukuWarung’s technology helps merchants improve the bookkeeping process by tracking transactions including credit, expense, sales, and cash flow visibility through business reports.

In total, the startup has more than 3.5 million merchants registered on its platform from tier 2 and 3 locations, and BukuWarung’s co-founder Chinmay Chauhan said that the startup has started making revenues through its payment solutions.

“We launched a digital payments solution for our merchants, which has seen strong adoption and is already processing over US$500 million in payment volumes. Our focus this year is to enhance our payment offerings and enable more digital payment use cases for our merchants,” added Chauhan.

BukuWarung recently forged a partnership with WarungPintaar and few others to create an ecosystem to better serve the MSME needs for digitizing. The startup has also launched Tokoko, a Shopify-like tool that lets merchants create online stores through an app, and says the platform has been used by 500,000 merchants so far.

With these latest fundings, BukuWarung will expand its technology and product team in Indonesia, India, and Singapore.

With its large number of SMEs, Indonesia is often seen as a desirable market for companies helping the drive toward digitization

Based on a report by Jakarta Post, SMEs employ 97% of their domestic workforce and contribute about 60% of Indonesia’s gross domestic product. These businesses however face difficulties in accessing financial services for scale.

Through digitizing their financial records, startups like BukuWarung not only streamline business bookkeeping processes but in turn also make it easier for them to apply for working capital loans and credits.

In this segment, the startup currently competes with BukuKas and CreditBook. In January 2021, BukuKas has also raised a US$10 million round led by Sequoia Capital India to build an end-to-end software stack catering to Indonesian SMEs.

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