With the boom of technology in the region, Southeast Asia has become home to young startups, and investors hoping to help fuel its rapid growth.

Some examples of investment news surrounding the region only this year include Chinese ecommerce giant confirming a $500 million joint venture with Thai retailer Central to build up the ecommerce and fintech sector in Thailand; Malaysia Debt Ventures set aside a $238 million fund to target technology-based companies like AR, VR, etc; and 500 Startups has made its debut investment in Myanmar backing a social media monitoring and news discovery app.

A recent report commissioned by Google and AT Kearney also highlights just how much money has been funneled into the region, which market is the most attractive and where are the most deep-pocketed investors coming from.

Southeast Asia’s golden child

Although the investment for startup companies in Southeast Asia only contributed to 8% to the total $90 billion of investment into Asia, this value has grown 23 times from 2012 to 2016 from $0.3 billion to $6.8 billion.

Most of the money has been pumped into Singapore and Indonesia that captured 60% of the entire investment.

Indonesia startups investment

Singapore gained most of the startup investment in Southeast Asia

However, nothing shone brighter this year than the myriad of Indonesian startups that have been stealing the attention of global industry giants like Tencent, Expedia, and Tim Draper from Draper Associates who invested in the early days of Tesla, Baidu, and Skype.

The country has produced three startups that classify as a ‘unicorn’, a company valued at more than $1 billion. They are Traveloka, Tokopedia and Go-Jek.

The first is valued at $2 billion after a $350 million investment from Expedia in July, and both Tokopedia and Go-Jek also are worth around $1 billion and $3 billion respectively.

Where’s all the money coming from?

Attracting the Chinese investors

In a short span of four years time from 2012 to 2016, Indonesia has seen 31 times growth of investment value from $44 million to $1.4 billion. During 8 months in this year alone, this value has grown more than two times to $3 billion driven by later-stage investments.

Indonesia startups investment

The staggering growth has AT Kearney predicting the ecosystem could attract more investment than the oil and gas industry — which contributed $23.7 billion or 3.3% of the country’s GDP last year.

“Due to the massive growth, the value of startup investments in Indonesia may surpass the nation’s oil and gas investment which was $5 billion in 2016,” said AT Kearney partner, Alessandro Gazzini.

From all of the investment raised by Indonesian startups since 2012, ecommerce received the biggest chunk of gold taking 58% of the total investment value.

Transport and fintech quickly follow behind with 38% and 2% respectively.

Indonesia startups investment

Indonesia has also become a hotbed for the expansion of Chinese companies as the country sees a growing interest from Chinese investors this year.

94% of the startups investment in the country during 2017 have involved Chinese investors, up from only 2% last year. Two of the infamous Chinese BAT, Alibaba and Tencent, are raising stake in Indonesia by investing in Tokopedia and Go-Jek respectively.

Meanwhile, diversified its portfolios with investment in Traveloka making Indonesia the official battleground for Chinese companies to fight their proxy war.

Indonesia startups investment

The involvement of Chinese investors in Indonesia is something that the government has encouraged across all sectors. Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating has even set up a special China desk to attract more investors.

With the country still at a nascent digital stage, there is no precise measurement to find out the country’s true potential until company’s try but as the famed venture capitalist Tim Draper said about Indonesia, “it is a great place to be”.

Here’s what you should know:

1. SPH and Mediacorp launched Singapore Media Exchange

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Mediacorp are partnering to build a digital advertising venture called Singapore Media Exchange (SMX).

SMX will offers programmatic advertising and see the two media groups putting their inventory of websites together. This will give brands access to a larger pool of consumers and address the problem of ads showing up on dubious websites.

To be launched fully next year, SMX will be managed by an independent team.

Read the full story here

2. Go-Jek acquires ticketing company Loket

On-demand services company Go-Jek announced the acquisition of Loket, a leading event management and ticketing company in the country.

Through this partnership, Go-Jek and Loket will provide their respective technology strengths to improve the whole event experience for both consumers and promoters.

Go-Jek already provides ticket purchasing services called Go-Tix, the acquisition will see Loket tap in to Go-Jek’s various cinema networks and event organisers.

Read the full story here

3. WeWork acquires coworking startup Spacemob

US-based shared workspace and services provider WeWork has announced it will acquire Singapore-based coworking space startup Spacemob.

The move is part of the company’s $500 million investment to drive growth in Southeast Asia and Korea.

Founded in 2010, WeWork has 130,000 members across 15 countries. Meanwhile, Spacemob was founded early last year with plans to launch coworking spaces in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Read the full story here.

Here’s what you should know today:

1. Go-Jek is enabling Go-Pay for transactions outside its ecosystem

Indonesian ride-hailing Go-Jek confirmed that it soon will allow its users to do cashless payment with Go-Pay to merchants outside of the Go-Jek ecosystem.

Currently, the Go-Pay feature can only be used to pay for Go-Jek services.

Go-Jek is also updating their in-app food delivery service to enable customers paying directly to the merchants with Go-Pay, instead of pay it for them in advance like the current system.

The company is recently awarded by Bank Indonesia for their achievement in “promoting cashless society, financial inclusions, and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) empowerment.”

Read the full story here.

2. Grab driving cashless payments in Singapore

Although the company faces a tough challenge in Indonesia, Grab is leading the innovation of cashless payments in homeland Singapore.

The country is likely to soon become Grab’s largest market in terms of cashless payments as more Singaporeans recognizes the value of cashless payments.

Grab has the ambitious goal to make GrabPay the regional mobile wallet and payments services. They are also planning to include more financial services including loans, electronic money transfer and money-market funds.

Read the full story here

3. More Filipino men shop online for clothing

According to Singapore-based ecommerce app Shopee, men in the Philippines have emerged as a high growth market. They are staying longer and buying more through Shopee mobile app.

The trend for Filipino men is they spend more but buy less frequently than women.

Mostly, these men are buying fashion apparels, consumer electronics, and sports and outdoor equipments. But the top preference vary across age group.

Shopee also see the number of male buyers in Health and Beauty category surging by 228% in the last year.

Read the full story here.

Here’s what you should know.

1. Tencent’s investment in Go-Jek is ‘around $100m to $150m’

Tencent has invested around $100 million to US$150 million in Indonesian ride-hailing startup Go-Jek. Neither Tencent nor Go-Jek have confirmed the sources’ claims.

Tencent, with a current market capitalization of $341 billion, has previously bought a stake in Singapore-based gaming startup Sea Ltd, formerly known as Garena, which was valued at $3.75 billion after a March 2016 funding round.

Go-Jek, which started as a hailing app for motorbike taxis, also operates a food delivery business that a source said yields a much higher margin than ride-hailing. Its mobile payment business, Go-Pay, is growing rapidly as it is complementary with all the other Go-Jek offerings.

The Chinese giant’s investment in Southeast Asia’s biggest ride hailing startup shows its growth ambitions in the region.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Indonesian edutech startup Ruangguru raises Series B round led by UOB Venture Management

Indonesian edutech startup Ruangguru today announced that it has raised an undisclosed Series B round led by UOB Venture Management.

The South Jakarta-based startup plans to use the new funding to “strengthen its team in the areas of educational content, technology, marketing and operations, and deepen its product adoption in Indonesia.”

The platform include features such as question banks, classroom management and exam simulations, and the startup claimed that it has helped the government conduct data-driven policy-making through its dashboard and insights.

The startup also offers other services such as video subscription service and tutoring marketplace. It also partners with LINE to launch LINE Academy, which allows students to take simulated online national examinations on the chat platform.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Singapore’s online gaming studio, Mighty Bear lands pre-seed funding round from Rocket Internet

Singapore gaming studio Mighty Bear has raised a US$775,000 pre-seed funding round led by Global Founders Capital, the venture capital arm of Rocket Internet.

The studio says it’s out to build the next generation of massively multiplayer online mobile games. The first title, Project Loot, is still under development and due to be released in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Global Founders Capital is associated with German venture builder Rocket Internet. All three Samwer brothers – the founders of Rocket Internet – are partners in GFC.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Carousell wants to help you sell a product in 3 seconds

“Can we, now having five years of experience, data, and learnings, create the next evolution of classifieds? Can we make selling a three-second process – snap a photo and that’s it?” ponders Quek Siu Rui, Carousell’s CEO and co-founder at Tech in Asia Singapore 2017.

Machine vision – the ability for computers to see and recognize objects like humans do – will give Carousell the ability to match a photo uploaded by a user to its database of items. Combine this with its pricing data from tens of millions of transactions, and the app could recommend to users what price to set for a product.

Carousell has grown from its humble beginnings, starting with a 3 persons team, which has since expanded to over a hundred. It has also made a series of acquisitions:

Its purchase of used cars marketplace Caarly is noteworthy because it announced Carousell’s intent of conquering car classifieds. Carousell’s move into cars is simply the result of its users growing up. It observed more users buying and selling cars, baby and kids items, furniture, and home appliances.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Hong Kong’s Qupital raises $2M led by Alibaba to finance invoice loans for SMES

Qupital, a one-year-old Hong Kong-based startup that addresses cash flow issues for SMEs, has closed a $2 million seed funding round.

The startup wants to free small companies on tight budgets from the restraints of unpaid invoices. That’s to say that a large chunk of an SME’s working cash flow is locked up in invoices that may take up to 90 days to actually pay out.

Qupital tackles that issue by getting companies to take a loan to cover 80-95 percent of the value of the invoice

With an estimated 300,000 SMEs located in Hong Kong, there’s an attractive initial market to be tackled. The link with Alibaba will help Qupital reach traders and SMEs — which represent its core focus . While the startup said there’s no precise plan on new locations yet, they hinted that countries with strong export sectors, such as Vietnam, Taiwan or Thailand would be among the obvious choices.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Go-Jek integrates Go-Med into HaloDoc app

Previously a part of the original Go-Jek app, the Go-Med service now complements HaloDoc’s online consultation service, turning it into an end-to-end health platform.

The partnership between the two companies began when Go-Jek took part in HaloDoc’s undisclosed pre-Series A round in April 2016.

The companies said that they have made efforts to simplify the booking and transaction process, which results in its ability to cut down a typical order time from 88 minutes to 40 minutes. HaloDoc has to renew partnership will local pharmacists as part of an effort to ensure the accuracy of their inventory.

For the time being, users also have to stick to cash payments for the service as Go-Jek’s e-wallet feature Go-Pay is not yet integrated into the platform.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Indonesia’s Go-Jek raises $1.2 billion led by Tencent

The deal, which we understand was signed last week, values the company at $3 billion post money. It is expected to be officially announced “soon.”

Go-Jek raised $550 million as recently as August 2016, when it commanded a valuation of $1.3 billion so this new deal has pushed that figure up considerably over a short period of time

Go-Jek claims to have over 200,000 drivers across some 25 cities in Indonesia. It started out as a pure bike taxi player, but it has since expanded into four wheels with its GoCar private car service and a partnership with taxi firm Blue Bird.

The region’s ride-sharing market itself is predicted to grow from $2.5 billion in 2015 to $13 billion by 2025, according to a report co-authored by Google. Indonesia’s share of that segment is forecast to jump from an estimated $0.8 billion to $5.6 billion over that same period.

With the funding, Go-Jek will be valued at $3 billion.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Facebook’s express Wi-Fi launches commercially in India

In India, Facebook is currently working with a number of local ISPs and 500 local entrepreneurs, but that number is about to grow.

The company previously launched the service commercially in Kenya and it’s also trialing it in Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia.

, the challenge of expanding the service to other countries isn’t so much technical as it is about understanding the local markets and needs. Chances are, though, that we’ll soon see more commercial launches in the other countries where Facebook is already testing the service.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Walmart Ecommerce chief says there’s more work to do

When asked about the fate of mall-based retailers, including Sears and Macy’s, Marc Lore said he thinks the retail sector is still “fairly healthy” but that some brick-and-mortar brands may not survive over the long haul.

“There’s a chance that we will see some definitely not make it,” he said. “It’s not easy to change and adapt when things are moving really fast — you have to stay on top of it, and not everybody is. People are changing the way they shop, and companies that are able to adapt will do well and flourish. Those that don’t, won’t.”

Read the rest of the story here.