GDP Venture co-leads $12m Series A funding for AI startup Element Inc

Artificial intelligence (AI) startup Element Inc has secured a $12 million funding from a Series A round led by Indonesia’s GDP Venture and US-based PTB Ventures.

As announced by the startup in an official statement, other investors participating in the round include a number of Indonesian corporations namely private lender BCA, through its venture capital arm Central Capital Ventura,  state lender Bank BRI, through its VC unit; and state-owned telco firm Telkom Indonesia, through its VC arm MDI Ventures.

Also joining the round is Maloekoe Ventures whose limited partners include Ayala Corporation, one of the oldest and largest conglomerates of the Philippines, with subsidiaries including Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Globe Telecom, among others.

Early investors in the round include Pandu Sjahrir, Scott Belsky, Box Group, SMDV, and Recruit Strategic Partners.

The deal will see PTB Managing Partner David Fields and GDP CTO On Lee join the company’s Board of Directors.

Founded in 2012 by Stanford-graduate product designer Adam Perold along with New York University professor and former Facebook AI director Yann LeCun, Element describes itself as a pioneer of mobile deep learning which works to develop and distribute a mobile-based, software-only platform for biometric identity.

The startup, which has offices in New York, Singapore and Jakarta, currently focuses its work on Asia and Africa, where over 1 billion people lack proper identification and are often excluded from basic services that are essential to sustainable development.

Perold, in an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA said the funds raised will be used to finance the company’s growth as well as drive new innovation and R&D.

“Our mission at Element is to provide identity to billions of people who need it. We would like to build a more efficient and inclusive society. At the moment, the opportunity to conduct digital transformation in Asia and Africa is very exciting,” Perold said in the press statement.

GDP Ventures CEO Martin Hartono believes that the partnership with Element, which has already set up its operations in Jakarta headed by Rizki Suluh Adi, will bring numerous benefits for the country.

“By investing in Element, we see an opportunity to advance the technology of Artificial Intelligence, especially the security of digital identity that can be applied in various fields in Indonesia,” GDP Venture CEO Martin Hartono said.

The Series A funding comes four years after Element’s previous investment which was a $5.3 million seed round led by founder Adam Perold and Recruitment Strategic Partners. It brings the company’s total funding to about $18 million.

Last month, another Southeast Asia VC firm, Singtel Innov8 was involved in a major funding round in US-based artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) provider Moogsoft. The venture capital arm of Singaporean telecom firm Singtel contributed in a $40-million Series D funding round led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity.

Also Read:

The Artificial Intelligence Gold Rush – has AI funding grown too fast?

Salesforce VC arm to launch $50m artificial intelligence fund

GDP Venture-backed Blibli acquires Tiket’s sister company Indonesia Flight

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.