The Southeast Asian tech startup landscape has proven time and time again that it’s one of the fastest-growing markets when it comes to VC investments. A massive influx of capital is entering the region through small startups and giants such as Singapore’s Grab or Indonesia’s Tokopedia. Singapore investment firm Jungle Ventures indicates that the region’s startups could be worth up to USD 1 trillion by 2025.
Some current Southeast Asia VC trends are influencing five of the most promising firms in the region.
Fundiin: Expanding payment structures in Vietnam and beyond
Fundiin is a Vietnamese buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) platform founded in 2019. Its CEO Nguyen Anh Cuong noticed a market opportunity when discovering that the penetration rate of Vietnam’s credit cards was only 5%, creating a perfect ecosystem for BNPL platforms. The company offers consumers the chance to make purchases and pay for them in three monthly instalments.
Recently, Fundiin raised USD 5 million in a Series A round, spearheaded by Trihill Capital and ThinkZone Ventures. This is the fourth round of funding since the company’s first seed round in November 2020, accumulating a total of USD 6.8 million. The latest seed round will consolidate the company’s presence in Vietnam and lay the groundwork for an expansion into Indonesia.
SynOPTION: FX and crypto trading efficiency
The foreign exchange market and crypto options platform SynOPTION, founded in 2018 in Singapore by Anchal Jain, has recently raised USD 4.7 million in a Pre-Series A round. The injection of capital will be funnelled into the goal of expanding their product lines, some of these being price distribution, analytics and aggregation initiatives. The Macquarie Group, Matrixport Ventures, and Kristal Advisors led the round, along with some of the company’s existing investors.
Since the company launched its FX options trading platform in January 2020, SynOption has focused on making Singapore the premier FX trading centre in Asia. Mr Jain stated, “We provide an efficient workflow to clients, by getting involved in their entire investment process from idea to implementation while protecting liquidity for banks in an illiquid space“.
Partipost: Influencing its way to the top
Partipost is another Singapore-based startup founded in 2016. The influencer and micro-influencer platform leverages its in-app polls and user behaviour data to match brands to influencers, resulting in an organic word-of-mouth marketing platform.
The company has raised USD 12.5 million throughout the years, completing its most recent Series B round in October 2022. A total of USD 7 million was raised in a collaborative initiative between several stakeholders, such as Pavilion Capital, Taiwan Mobile, Cathay Venture, and Quest Ventures. The company plans to consolidate its presence in eight regional countries as it branches out to Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong within the next 18 months.
Social Bella (Sociolla): A beauty behemoth
Also known as Sociolla, Social Bella, an online beauty and personal care services provider from Indonesia, has had a whopping eight funding rounds, totalling USD 226 million. Most of these investments occurred during the pandemic, resulting in a 20x growth since 2020. Cross-border expansion and a core principle of sustainability aided its phenomenal growth. Temasek and L Catterton led this latest USD 40 million round with additional investors, including East Ventures, Jungle Ventures, and other private investors.
The company now has 48 stores in Indonesia and 13 locations in Vietnam. Furthermore, the company launched a maternity-centred eCommerce platform called Lilla, an online review platform called Soco, and the company’s own content creation aggregator, Beauty Journal.
Fano Labs: The voice of financial regulation
Artificial Intelligence company, Fano Labs, focuses on Natural Language Processing (NLP). While the use of AI in voice recognition has been around for a while, this Hong Kong-based company is innovating by linking the process with financial regulatory entities. Most banks’ relationship managers deal with a high volume of calls when serving customers. The Fano Labs system bridges the regulatory gap by processing said calls, reducing the time wasted by managers.
By searching for improper conduct and mistakes in the conversations, banks now have access to the metrics and data required to improve their service levels. Furthermore, the speed at which the AI processes these calls is 100x faster than a human’s processing capability.
In early October 2022, Fano Labs received an undisclosed amount from two stakeholders, New Vision Capital and AEF Greater Bay Area Fund.
All these companies show the financial potential that Southeast Asian tech startups have as the region becomes a hub of innovation. With a beauty provider, a crypto-based platform, a payment services provider, an influencer platform, and an AI-regtech startup having all obtained substantial funding recently, it is clear that there is not just one sector attracting interest from investors and attests to the diversity of the current Southeast Asia VC trends.