Vietnam’s new retail firm Seedcom adds China’s eWTP to its roster of investors

Dinh Anh Huan, founder and chairman of Seedcom.

Ficus Asia Investment, the Singapore-domiciled investment entity formed to invest in the Vietnamese “new retail” firm Seedcom, has raised fresh capital from ReDefine Capital Fund, the Singapore-registered arm of China’s eWTP Technology Innovation Fund, show regulatory filings.

ReDefine Capital holds about 13.29 million preference shares worth around $28.7 million in Ficus, according to a filing to the Singapore Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) reviewed by DealStreetAsia.

Investors including Virgin Islands-domiciled The Quaternary Group, Cayman Islands-domiciled Aurora Global Inc, and Mizuho ASEAN Investment own the rest of Ficus’ $87.1 million paid-up capital.

Mizuho has $38.8 million worth of preference shares, while the others hold both ordinary and preference shares. Igarashi Kota, CEO of Mizuho Asia Partners, is also among the authorised representatives of Ficus, according to the ACRA filing.

Jiang Dawei, partner and CFO of eWTP, was appointed as an authorised representative at Ficus on September 30, 2020, the document showed.

TechInAsia, which reported the funding by ReDefine Capital on Monday, said the Alibaba- and Ant Group-backed fund invested $50 million in Ficus, citing VentureCap Insights data. The report added that the total funds raised by the company now stands at $71.3 million.

Ficus was established in 2017 by Vietnamese entrepreneur Dinh Anh Huan. Huan founded Seedcom in 2014 and now serves as its chairman.

Another backer in Seedcom is the private equity firm Vietnam Investment Group, according to the latter’s website.

Huan did not comment on the fundraising by Ficus. However, he said that he will continue to invest in Seedcom and look to partner with those who have the technology, resources, know-how, and network to help with Seedcom’s expansion.

“From the first day with Seedcom, what I’ve been hoping is to bring Vietnamese products and services to the world,” he told DealStreetAsia on Monday.

Brands under the umbrella of Seedcom include Scommerce, the operator of Temasek-backed logistics companies GHN and AhaMove; The Coffee House, one of the most popular café chains in Vietnam; e-commerce software firm Haravan; Cau Dat Farm, which produces tea, coffee, and other agricultural products; supermarket chain KingFood; and two fashion units.

“Vietnam has a competitive advantage in SaaS, footwear, and garment and agriculture industries that will see the country moving from outsourcing to exporting its own products. We want to be a part of that transition,” Huan said.

He revealed that Seedcom is focused on Vietnam but has the vision to expand into other markets. He hoped to soon have the first international clients for the company’s SaaS business, and to bring Cau Dat Farm’s products on cross-border selling platforms.

“We need to build solid products in Vietnam first, but we have already prepared for expansion,” he said.

Last year, Huan told DealStreetAsia in an interaction that Seedcom revamped itself from a venture builder into a new retail company. The term “new retail” was coined by Alibaba to indicate the integration of the best experience for both brick-and-mortar and digital commerce.

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group are the cornerstone investors in eWTP, a $600 million investment fund established in 2018 to tap both startup opportunities in emerging markets as well as Chinese startups that target emerging markets.

It has invested in companies such as online-to-offline marketplace KKGroup and fintech XTransfer in China, logistics startup Flash Express (Thailand), and foodtech Box8 (India).

Thanks to the acceleration of digital technology driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Seedcom expects its long-term growth goal as a new retail business to be achieved sooner, according to its CEO Nguyen Hoanh Tien. “We bet on good unit economics so that as we expand, we will get better results. Now as we’re in a good position with scaling up, our focus is gearing towards profitability,” he told DealStreetAsia.

He claimed that Seedcom’s growth has been about 500 per cent in recent years.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.