SE Asia Deal Review: Startup funding leaps 382% to $781m in March, thanks to two big-ticket deals

Photo by Kit Suman on Unsplash

After a lacklustre fundraising performance in the first two months of this year, startups in Southeast Asia managed to secure at least $781 million in venture capital funding in March, according to proprietary data compiled by DealStreetAsia.

The amount pumped in by venture capitalists (VCs) into the region’s startups last month was up 382% from February’s $162 million. In January, startups had raised $278 million.

The nearly five-fold increase, though, was mostly on account of a few mega deals in the month.

Singapore-based innovation intelligence company PatSnap’s $300 million Series F round, which was co-anchored by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Tencent Investment, accounted for more than a third of the total funds raised by startups last month.

The overall figure, however, does not include the 19 undisclosed fundraisings among the 73 deals that DealStreetAsia tracked in March. There were just 53 deals in February.

The $170 million Series B raised by Indonesian last-mile delivery startup SiCepat Ekspres — from Falcon House Partners, Pavilion Capital, and MDI Ventures, among others — also helped inflate the overall startup funding in the month.

PatSnap and SiCepat together accounted for 60% of the disclosed fundraisings in March. If we set aside the two deals, overall startup funding stood at $311 million in March, up 92% from February.

Singapore, Indonesia startups remain the region’s top

Singapore continued to be the most active in terms of fundraising in March, accounting for 37 deals that raised at least $405.4 million. Six firms did not disclose the amount they raised. That compares to the 30 deals worth at least $83.1 million in February and 26 deals that received $91.1 million in January.

Indonesia took the second spot with 19 venture capital deals worth at least $343.9 million. Seven Indonesian startups did not disclose the amount they raised. In February, 13 deals in Indonesia secured at least $42.3 million in venture funding.

The two countries accounted for 96% of the disclosed fundraisings in March.

Vietnam saw 10 venture capital deals worth $11 million while two startups from the Philippines received $15.1 million in funding, including a $15-million Series B funding in live-streaming app Kumu led by returning investor Openspace Ventures. Thailand had three venture deals worth $4.2 million.

PatSnap’s funding of $300 million put Series E as the topper among the deal stages, followed by Series B deals ($286.1 million), Series A ($146.5 million), and seed rounds ($17.1 million). 

Pre-Series A, Series C, and pre-Seed rounds raised $7.1 million, $3.3 million, and $615 million, respectively. Undisclosed stages raised $19.8 million.

In February, Series A deals had topped the list with 16 transactions valued at about $46 million.

 

AI, logistics lead among sectors

Artificial intelligence (AI) startups cornered the most funds in March at $306.7 million, thanks to PatSnap, while logistics firms raised $177 million led by SiCepat’s $170 million Series B round.

Financial technology startups secured nearly $135 million, thanks to the additional $65 million that Indonesian online stock brokerage platform Ajaib Group raised in its Series A round. Another Indonesian fintech startup, Xendit, raised $64.6 million in a Series B round led by US venture capital firm Accel, with participation from Y Combinator.

In February, healthcare/biotech and fintech had topped the charts in terms of deal value, raising $38.9 million over five deals and $34.8 million over 13 deals, respectively.

Notable venture capital investors in March include AC Ventures, BEENEXT, Gobi Partners, Insignia Ventures Partners, Octava, Seeds Capital, and Y Combinator.

The March numbers brought the total funds raised in Q1 2021 to $1.22 billion from over 177 deals. That compares to the $1.73 billion raised in Q4 2020 from 143 deals. 

For the entire 2020, a year hit by an unprecedented healthcare crisis, Southeast Asia’s startups still managed to pull in a total of $8.6 billion, a mere 2% lower than the 2019 tally of $8.76 billion, showed data from DealStreetAsia’s SE Asia Deal Review: Q4 2020.

Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s VC firms raised $1.96 billion in 2020, a 39% drop from $3.23 billion in 2019, as travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the pandemic and increased limited partner (LP) caution affected fundraising. The number of fund closes dropped to 11 last year, less than half the 28 reported in 2019.

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.