Ardent Capital, the venture capital firm that aims to develop and unite Southeast Asia’s fragmented ecommerce market, announced it closed a US$12.7 million investment led by Sinarmas, a major Indonesian conglomerate.
Adrian Vanzyl the CEO of Ardent told us that the Ardent team will use the funding to:
…Open an Indonesian office, and hire 20 staff for our Labs business there. They will create new companies in-house, all in the e-commerce sector—to continue building companies in Thailand, including ongoing funding of our family of vertical commerce businesses under www.whatsnew.asia. We will primarily focus on building companies in house, but will also invest in third party companies that fit our strategic vision around e-commerce.
Sinarmas’s telecom carrier, Smartfren is likely to be a collaborator down the road. Mr Vanzyl also has said that…
Sinarmas has a large local carrier, with over 30 million active subscribers, most of which are on smartphones. Everything we do touches on consumers at some end. So if we can get a mobile partner that can get our product directly in front of their 30 million subscribers—whether in the form of an app download or a marketing campaign.
It’s a very intelligent strategy and works as an analogy to what their child company aCommerce has been doing with Line in Thailand.
Through a strategic partnership with Line, aCommerce can run flash sales (Line is a very popular messaging app in Thailand, Japan and other Asian countries). Flash sales via mobile are a uniquely Asian innovation. One comparison might be the WeChat platform in China—flash sales on mobile messaging platforms make perfect sense in Asia as more consumers have phones and tablets. In many developing nations, it’s far more common for a consumer to own and use a smartphone than a computer. As a virtually ubiquitous app in Thailand, Line presents companies wishing to reach consumers with an incredible opportunity.
Indonesia – the Sleeping Giant
Indonesia, with a population of over 250 million, has been a tough nut to crack for startups branching out through the region. Many startups have struggled to expand into new markets, and aCommerce is actually providing a lot of the infrastructure to be able to do so.
From a macro perspective, Indonesia presents the largest market in Southeast Asia. However, for many startups the expansion into Indonesia is not always intuitive. There are payment issues (highly fragmented) and a large percentage of the population has not yet come online. However, the trend of people coming online is inevitable. Cell phone penetration in Indonesia is high, and smart phone penetration will continue to grow.
Persons interested in applying for a job at the Indonesian headquarters can contact [email protected]
Strong Leadership Across Companies
aCommerce (an ardent company) is led by serial entrepreneur Paul Srivorakul (click for our interview) and another excellent member of the team is Indonesian Edo Henry who acts as CFO/financial controller.
The Indonesian team will be led by Hadi Wenas, who is CEO at aCommerce Indonesia and formerly of Zalora (a rocket internet company).
aCommerce – The Amazon of SE Asia?
Many people have compared aCommerce to Amazon. aCommerce centralizes management of back-end logistics for ecommerce firms including warehousing, shipment logistics, order processing, payment processing, and marketing. aCommerce does not rely on Ardent funds and raised a $10.7m Series A investment round lead by Inspire Ventures, Sinarmas, Sumitomo, NTT Docomo, AsiaPacificDigital, and CyberAgent Ventures.
Ardent companies are able to leverage on the infrastructure created by aCommerce, aiming to eliminate the fragmentation and create an economy of scale.
Labs companies are able to leverage the aCommerce logistics and procurement, and introduce existing brands to the ASEAN market.
Other Ardent Labs Companies under Whatsnew.asia
- PicoCandy, a service for making custom chat stickers.
- e27.co, a popular news site and jobsite. e27 Echelon is the premier startup event in Thailand. It’s headed by Mohan Belani, and the team competes directly with TechinAsia.
- Sanoga.com is Thailand’s largest online health store.
- Venbi.com offers a diverse selection of parenting products such as diapers, formula, food, accessories, gear, and other essentials that are often burdensome for busy parents to purchase or carry home.
- Petloft.com, an ecommerce site for everything your pet could need.