Indonesia continues to be an attractive investment destination due to its strong fundamentals even as tech startups in the region face a prolonged funding winter, according to Glen Ramersan, managing partner of Singapore-based venture capital firm TNB Aura.
“Although the tech industry in Indonesia has been growing for over the past decade, the country is still at an early stage. Indonesia only has a little over 10 tech unicorns while India has over a hundred. So we expect many more developments to come,” said Ramersan.
In March this year, TNB Aura appointed Glen Ramersan as its managing partner to further strengthen the firm’s activity in Indonesia. Startups from Indonesia currently make up about 40% of the VC firm’s portfolio. It has notably backed social commerce startup Super, business-to-business e-commerce platform Ralali, agritech firm AgriAku, edtech startup CoLearn, and more.
“As a regional fund, TNB Aura has been quite focused on Indonesia so we want to build our own infrastructure in the market. We want to make sure that we invest in the right founders and companies with products and business models that really fit the market,” said Ramersan.
The sector-agnostic fund is particularly bullish on opportunities in e-commerce, fintech, as well as supply chain and logistics in Indonesia.
“I think there is still a large [investment] appetite for e-commerce in Indonesia, especially in B2B and direct-to-customers [D2C]. We refrain from investing in companies that have high capital expenditures. We also look for companies that not only focus on customers in Jakarta or tier 1 cities but also tap into lower-tier cities,” he said.
The VC firm invests primarily in the Series A stage with typical ticket size being in the region of $3-10 million. The firm is looking to clock two to three investments in Indonesia and likely five to six more investments regionally by the end of this year, Ramersan added.
TNB Aura is targeting to complete deployment from the second fund by the end of this year and it plans to launch Fund III early next year. TNB Aura closed its Fund 1 in 2018 and second fund in July 2022. The firm has not disclosed the corpus raised for the second vehicle.
Prior to his appointment at TNB Aura, Ramersan was a co-founder and CEO of prop-tech startup RoomMe since 2017 before he exited the firm last year.
“I have learned so much from my experience as an entrepreneur. Now, being a VC investor teaches you a lot of new perspectives and understanding of the whole tech startup industry,” said Ramersan, adding that his entrepreneurial stint helps his decision-making process as an investor.
Before deciding on an investment, the team conducts “research sprints” using a top-down approach where they analyse broad economic trends before selecting new startups.
With this cautious approach, TNB Aura’s investment strategy in the current context of funding winter remains somewhat unchanged.
Earlier this month, the firm, together with Antler, co-anchored a $10 million Series A funding round for Singapore-based telehealth platform ORA. TNB Aura also led a $4.6-million fresh equity funding round in Vietnam-based earned wage access startup GIMO in January.