Vietnam’s B2B e-commerce startup Telio banks $25m Series A

Telio, which claims to be Vietnam’s first B2B e-commerce platform, has raised $25 million in a Series A round led by Tiger Global, according to an official announcement.

DealStreetAsia had reported the Tiger Global-led financing in October.

The funding round was joined by Sequoia India, GGV Capital and RTP Global.

Telio had previously secured seed funding from Surge, the accelerator programme by Sequoia Capital, as one of the 17 startups in its inaugural cohort.

The valuation of Telio after the latest round could not be verified but the startup claims a 10x jump in its value from its seed round. The Vietnamese company also claims to have increased its annual gross merchandise value (GMV) more than 50 times since its Surge days.

The company, founded in November 2018, connects small mom-and-pop stores with brands and wholesalers on its platform and claims to offer better pricing and more efficient logistics.

Small retailers accounted for over 60 per cent of fast-moving consumer goods sales in urban areas and over 90 per cent in rural Vietnam, according to research firm Kantar. However, they still remain underserved by modern technology solutions.

Telio’s smartphone app tackles the time and access issue which mom-and-pop shops typically need to call 50-80 wholesalers and distributors to place individual orders, which can take up to a week to arrive. The startup said it is now building a network of warehouses to ensure next-day delivery.

Telio currently has over 3,000 retailers from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on its platform, having enjoyed a 70 per cent month-on-month growth over the past eight months. These retailers are placing an average of seven orders per month with Telio.

The company expects to expand to four more cities and onboard 15,000 retailers by June 2020, as well as expand to several new verticals in the next few months.

“Our mission is to empower the large population of small retailers in Vietnam, who play an important role in our economy and the local neighbourhoods they serve. The inventory supply chain in our country is very fragmented, and these small retailers don’t have a clear view of pricing, quality and even availability of most products,” said Telio founder and CEO Bui Sy Phong.

Phong said he came up with the idea to establish Telio after he joined Alibaba’s eFounders programme in 2018, realising he wanted to do something to serve small businesses that are the backbone of the national economy.

“We found out that cashless payments isn’t one of the main pain points of the mom-and-pop stores. However… fulfilling their stores is a pain point where we can help,” My Linh, head of strategy at Telio, said in a recent GGV Capital podcast.

“Mom-and-pop shops form the lifeblood of Vietnamese consumption and have historically been durable against the expansion of modern retail and e-commerce,” said Jixun Foo, managing partner at GGV Capital.

“By leveraging technology, Telio can tap into the microentrepreneurs’ knowledge of their catchment area and their community-level efficient scale to unlock their true potential and empower the community,” he added.

Vietnam is one of the two pacesetters in Southeast Asia – the other being Indonesia – in terms of its internet economy, which is growing in excess of 40 per cent a year, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2019 report by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain.

Driven by impressive e-commerce growth, the country’s internet economy is slated to touch $12 billion in 2019, with its gross merchandise value set to account for over 5 per cent of the country’s GDP, per the report.

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.

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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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.