Japanese giant SoftBank Group Corp has expressed interest in leading the next funding round for fashion marketplace Zilingo, edtech startup Ruangguru and fisheries e-commerce firm Aruna, according to two industry sources.
SoftBank Group chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son is learnt to have met the founders of the three firms during his visit to Indonesia last month.
Sequoia-backed Zilingo started out as a fashion and lifestyle marketplace in 2015. It has since expanded its focus to include B2B services, which now account for more than half of its revenues, and raised more than $300 million in capital to support its growth.
Founded in 2014, edtech startup Ruangguru’s offerings include an online self-learning platform, a private tutoring marketplace, on-demand in-app tutoring services, online exam simulations and tutoring centres. It claims to have more than 15 million users and over 300,000 teachers on its platform.
Aruna has partnered with more than 2,000 fishermen across different provinces of Indonesia, who can then sell seafood directly to customers using its mobile apps. It also helps fishermen assess the production potential of fisheries to strategically and sustainably earn their livelihoods.
“The talks with SoftBank are at an early stage and both Zilingo and Ruangguru are in no hurry to raise funds anytime soon,” said one of the industry sources who spoke to DealStreetAsia on the condition of anonymity.
Zilingo and Ruangguru have both secured substantial funding this year. The Singapore-headquartered fashion marketplace raised $226 million in a Series D round backed by Sequoia Capital, Burda Principal Investments, Temasek Holdings and EDBI in February.
The Indonesian edtech firm, meanwhile, closed a follow-on investment from existing backers UOB Venture Management and East Ventures recently.
A potential investment from the Japanese conglomerate is likely to push Zilingo’s valuation over the $1-billion mark. SoftBank’s Southeast Asia portfolio has only two unicorns so far – ride-hailing major Grab and e-commerce startup Tokopedia.
Zilingo declined to comment for this story. An industry insider confirmed the company was not currently in the market to raise funds.
An existing Zilingo investor, who wished to remain unidentified, told us that another investor – Singapore’s Temasek – had earlier expressed its keenness to back the startup’s next funding round. The increased interest from these large investors could compel Zilingo to return to the negotiating table sooner than expected.
SoftBank’s interest in Ruangguru and Aruna was confirmed by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, in an address to the local media.
Venture capital (VC) firm East Ventures is learnt to be the link between SoftBank’s Son and Runagguru. SoftBank is a limited partner, or investor, in EV Growth, a joint growth-stage fund managed by East Ventures, while Ruangguru is one of the VC’s several portfolio companies.
After a meeting with Indonesia President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in July, Son had said that the Japanese corporate giant will invest $2 billion in Indonesia over the next five years through ride-hailing major Grab.
SoftBank also plans to increase its investment in Tokopedia and back smaller startups in the country, Son had said.
SoftBank, which is regarded as one of the world’s most prominent tech investors, has backed several other companies in Indonesia, including mobile POS startup Moka, co-working space Co-Hive and stock platform Ajaib.