Rapid digitalisation and high expectations for a post-pandemic recovery have propelled startup funding in Southeast Asia to new heights. With total funding raised so far this year already exceeding last year’s by more than twofold, Indonesia’s wealthtech firm Ajaib provided the icing on the cake on Monday by securing its place as the region’s 40th tech unicorn.
Ajaib has also become the first company from Southeast Asia to cross the billion-dollar valuation mark at the Series B funding stage. In comparison, the region’s most valuable tech firms, Grab and Gojek, were both christened unicorns after closing their Series D rounds.
Ajaib’s trajectory is reflective of the growth of the fintech sector during the pandemic. Excluding fundraising secured by lending and insurtech firms, fintech companies had inked 147 deals worth $3.2 billion in total this year as of Sept. 25. This compares to 71 deals worth $803 million in the first nine months of last year.
Data compiled by DealStreetAsia – DATA VANTAGE also showed that Indonesia-listed media conglomerate PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk (Emtek) has picked up a stake in Singapore-headquartered fintech firm Nium.
Top shareholders in Nium
Shares of Indonesia’s emerging online payment firm OY! Indonesia also changed hands last week. Alternate Ventures divested its stake to six entities, including Central Capital Ventura, Saison Capital and Indonesia-listed PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk, the owner of convenience store chain Alfamart.
Fintech is not the only sector that has seen impressive growth. Overall, venture-backed companies in the region secured $17.2 billion as of Sept. 25, more than double the $8.6 billion secured throughout 2020.
Of the total funding raised so far, equity investments contributed $14.7 billion, while debt and other instruments amounted to $2.5 billion, according to DealStreetAsia’s SE Asia Private Capital Markets 2021 report.
With total fundraising value trending above $5 billion every quarter this year and Indonesian tech behemoth GoTo set to close a $2 billion pre-IPO round, it is realistic to expect fundraising by Southeast Asia’s startups to top the $20 billion mark this year.
The region is also poised to mint at least 20 unicorns this year as B2B marketplace Zilingo is expected to close its latest funding round at a billion-dollar valuation soon. When that happens, Southeast Asia would have christened more unicorns in 2021 than it did in the preceding six years.
Southeast Asia’s unicorns: A timeline
Other updates from DATA VANTAGE
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made his first investment in a Southeast Asian startup by joining Ula’s $87 million Series B round led by Prosus Ventures, Tencent and B Capital. The round, which was joined by Northstar Group, AC Ventures and Citius, brings the company’s total funding to $119 million and its valuation to $380.4 million.
Singapore-based Cityneon, an entertainment company that focuses on interior design, events and exhibitions, could be the region’s next unicorn. The company, which welcomed Gold Trafford as a new investor last week, is now valued at $983.9 million.
Bengaluru-headquartered FloBiz, which offers GST billing, accounting and inventory management tools for small and medium businesses, issued new shares worth $29.5 million last week as part of a Series B funding round co-led by Sequoia Capital India and Think Investments.
Singapore-registered global edtech firm Emeritus received $60 million in fresh paid-up capital from its parent company Eruditus last week. Emeritus had in August announced that it had raised $650 million in a funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel, which catapulted the company into the unicorn club.
Indonesia’s SIRCLO, a startup that enables businesses to sell online, received $16 million on Thursday as part of its latest funding round, which valued the company at $172 million. The company has raised $82 million so far this year from investors including East Ventures, Saratoga Investama Sedaya and OCBC Ventura.