If you ask investors what types of startups will likely rise this year, they’ll probably mention fintech, some specialized forms of ecommerce, media, and perhaps software-as-a-service.
Here’s a list of startups in those categories I think we’ll hear more from this year.
Hailing from the portfolio of Mountain Kejora Ventures, Investree is an exciting new player in financial services.
Its core feature is invoice financing. Small business sometimes have to wait weeks or months to be paid by clients for services or products already shipped. Through Investree, they can get the amount that’s owed to them in advance, which allows them to plan better. Once the client’s payment comes through, the lender gets the money back – with interest, of course.
The startup, which has dished out roughly US$4.5 million in loans so far, is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace where third-party lenders provide the cash and get interest in return.
Investree is also looking into employee loans, where lenders can help employees of Investree’s partner companies to finance special expenses like medical treatment, house renovation, or buying a motorcycle.
Co-founders Aida Sutanto, Adrian Gunadi, Andi Andries, and Dickie Widjaja are an experienced team and bring years of experience in the banking and finance sector with them.
Investree’s last announced funding was its series A from Mountain Kejora in June 2016
UangTeman is also a loans startup, but different from Investree in that it does not invite third-party lenders onto the platform. Instead, it gives out its own money to borrowers – very small loans intended to help people through a particularly tight stretch, for example toward the end of the month.
This type of lending is also known as a payday loan.
UangTeman has been criticized for taking high interest rates and late fees. Co-founder and CEO Aidil Zulkifli argues that what customers want most is transparency as well as speedy and simple access to a loan.
The startup, which has handed out around US$2.4 million in loans, claims that its default rate is very low, under 3 percent, and that the vast majority of borrowers can repay their debt on time without getting hit by penalties.
UangTeman raised a pre-series A round in equity financing in addition to US$735,000 in debt in September last year. It could be a candidate for a new round this year. Alpha JWC is among its investors.
CekAja, established in 2013, is a dinosaur among Indonesia’s mostly very young fintech startups.
Its model could be described as financial ecommerce. It brings people in with information on all kinds of financial products like credit cards, or insurances. Readers can browse and compare offerings from a broad range of providers and then purchase the offering right through CekAja.
This is different to other comparison sites, co-founder J.P. Ellis says, which typically send their customers to their partners as leads, without selling to them directly.
CekAja raised a series B round led by Telstra Ventures, an arm of the Australian telco, in September last year – the first company to do so in Southeast Asia. It also operates in the Philippines under the name eCompareMo.
Mountain Kejora Ventures and Monk’s Hill Ventures are among its investors.
General ecommerce is tough to break into now, as big companies have already put down their claims. But for niche shopping areas with a sophisticated audience there’s still potential, investors believe.
Cosmetics are a prime example. Buyers are quite particular about the brands they like and are willing to spend a significant amount. Sociolla in Indonesia is a candidate that’s been doing well in the field.
A similar startup from Singapore, Luxola, was acquired by luxury goods giant LVMH in 2015.
Luxola never got a strong foothold in Indonesia. So with a recent series B fundraise from a big Japanese firm, Sociolla is in a good position to conquer its home country.
Fabelio’s been around since 2015 and holds a unique spot in Indonesia’s ecommerce landscape. It’s a furniture store that designs and produces its own line of simple but elegant sofas, tables, chairs, and so on, and sells them through its own site. It targets upper middle class households and also works with corporate clients, like hotels and restaurants.
It has polished the designs and production process in the past couple of years, and now aims to establish itself in cities beyond the Jakarta metropolitan area.
It’s a business with strong economics, says Stefan Jung of Venturra Capital, which led Fabelio’s series A in January last year. IMJ Investment Partners, 500 Startups, and KK Fund are also investors.
A hybrid news site with social media elements, Kumparan is a new entrant in Indonesia’s digital media landscape.
It’s a little bit like Medium in the sense that it houses curated, editorial content, but also allows the community to create its own posts and interact with each other.
Kumparan went online a few months ago. Its traffic, while not massive, has been growing steadily. The reason it’s included in this list is that it’s backed by a high-profile team of co-founders: a group of seasoned journalists, famous for establishing news portal Detik back in 1998.
Detik turned into one of Indonesia’s most valuable online properties, sold to Para Group in 2011 for a reported US$60 million, a huge exit at that time. Whatever Kumparan evolves into this year will be interesting to watch.
The number of startups with software-as-a-service (Saas) business models is proliferating in Indonesia.
Many of them target the country’s millions of small and medium-sized businesses, for example with online tools for accounting or human resources management.
Jurnal falls into the category of accounting software, with features like invoicing, reporting, and asset management.
After a series A round last February led by East Ventures, it plans to expand to cities like Bandung, Medan, and Surabaya this year.
After acquiring another startup which specialized in accounting software late last year, Sleekr now offers both human resources management and accounting tools.
The company has so far only disclosed an initial investment of US$35,000 in 2014, with money provided out of the three co-founders own pockets.
Traffic to its site is steadily increasing and the company has nine open job postings, so it looks like it’s set for a strong year.
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