Indonesia’s Telkomsel VC arm to prioritise synergies with parent firm over exit strategy

Marlin R Siahaan, the new CEO of Telkomsel Mitra Inovasi (TMI). Source: company doc.

Marlin Siahaan, the newly appointed chief executive officer of Jakarta-headquartered investment firm Telkomsel Mitra Inovasi (TMI), has her hands full.

TMI is the corporate venture capital arm of Indonesia’s largest telecom operator Telkomsel and invests in early-growth stage startups across the archipelago.

Having joined the firm in June this year, she is already busy prioritising synergies between TMI’s portfolio startups and its parent firm even as some of its investments are ripe for exits.

The VC has yet to target generating returns from its investments anytime soon even though some of the portfolio firms are in the growth stage and are likely to explore the IPO option, Siahaan told DealStreetAsia.

Explaining the rationale, she said: “The point is synergy. Exit [strategy] is good, but we have to think twice; what synergy have we built for our startups so far? We are exploring whether our portfolios can enhance Telkomsel’s core business and growth engines, including our big data business, Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity, and others.”

Quite a few portfolio companies of TMI have already worked with Telkomsel, thereby accessing its ecosystem, assets, and expertise.

In the consumer lending space, Kredivo has integrated its big data and payment options in some of Telkomsel’s products and services. Similarly, smart city solutions firm Qlue has collaborated with the telecom giant to jointly boost digital connectivity, digital platform, and digital services to create an inclusive and sustainable digital ecosystem in the country.

There are others, too, who have collaborated with Telkomsel and these include firms like IoT-based smart logistics and asset monitoring solutions startup Roambee, B2B agriculture marketplace Tanihub, and telemedicine platform Halodoc.

Of these, Kredivo is understood to be in talks for a potential public listing via one of Victory Park Capital’s SPACs. Besides, its other portfolio firm SiCepat Ekspres, which is into last-mile delivery, is also said to be considering an IPO in the second semester of 2021 or early 2022.

The other mandate that Siahaan has in her hands is to raise a second fund this year to continue with its “focus on pre-Series A and Series B stage (deals), but we will increase our ticket size from $ 1-2 million to $3-4 million per investment.”

TMI has, so far, invested in 15 startups through its debut fund, which raised $40 million in 2019.

Of those, as many as nine startups including digital signature provider PrivyID, besides Kredivo, Qlue, SiCepat Ekspres, Tanihub, Halodoc, and Roambee have raised separate funding from MDI Ventures.

To be sure, the parent company of MDI Ventures and Singtel Innov8, Telkom Indonesia and Singtel, are stakeholders in Telkomsel.

Therefore, earlier a lot of investments that TMI clocked also saw separate fundings by MDI Ventures. But, going forward, this could change as said Siahaan says the firm will take its own decision for every investment – even if it is joined by MDI Ventures and Singtel Innov8 for the same deals.

Besides handholding its existing portfolio, TMI is also scouting for new startups that can support Telkomsel’s business growth in areas of cybersecurity, ICT, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR), and 5G network support.

And, in doing so, the CVC plans to back more women startups founders in Indonesia.

Apart from TMI, Telkomsel, too, has investments in the country’s burgeoning startup ecosystem. The company made headlines last year when it pumped in a whopping $150 million in ride-hailing giant Gojek in November. Subsequently, the company has also announced its commitment to pump in an additional $300 million in Gojek in its pre-IPO round.

Before joining TMI, Siahaan worked for Waze, a GPS navigation software app and a subsidiary of Google, as its country manager. In a career spanning over 12 years, she has also served stints with Telkomsel, and Yahoo, among others.

Siahaan took over TMI from its former CEO Andi Kristianto.

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.