Published On: Thu, Jan 28th, 2021

Ula raises $20 million to enhance the e-commerce marketplace in Indonesia

Tokopedia, Lazada, Shopee, and other firms combined an e-commerce marketplace in Indonesia in a past decade, creation it probable for consumers to emporium online in a island nation. But as is loyal in other Asian markets, many tiny retailers and mom-and-pop stores in a Southeast Asian republic still face a innumerable of hurdles in sourcing register and operative capital, and continue to rest on an age-old supply sequence network.

Nipun Mehra (a former executive of Flipkart in India), Alan Wong (who formerly worked with Amazon), Derry Sakti (who oversaw consumer products hulk PG’s operations in Indonesia), and Riky Tenggara (former Lazada and aCommerce), began to try opportunities to residence this in 2019.

“Much like India, many of a Indonesian sell marketplace is unorganized. In a food and unfeeling category, for instance, there are lots of farmers who sell to agents, who afterwards sell to markets. From these markets, a register goes to tiny wholesalers, and so on. There are lots of players in a chain,” pronounced Mehra, whose prior stints embody operative during Sequoia Capital India, in an talk with TechCrunch.

Mehra, Wong, Sakti and Tenggara co-founded Ula in Jan of 2020. With Ula, they are perplexing to classify this sourcing and supply sequence for tiny retailers so that there is a one-stop emporium for everybody.

Despite a pandemic, Ula done inroads in a Indonesian marketplace final year and now serves some-more than 20,000 stores. And naturally, investors have noticed.

From left to right: Derry Sakti, Nipun Mehra (screen), Riky Tenggara, Ganesh Rengaswamy (screen), Alan Wong, and Dan Bertoli. Photo credit: Ula

On Thursday, Ula announced it has lifted $20 million in a Series A financing round. The turn was led by existent financier Quona Capital and B Capital Group. Other existent investors including Sequoia Capital India and Lightspeed — that financed Ula’s $10.5 million Seed turn in Jun final year — have also participated in a Series A.

“If we demeanour during a whole sell value chain, generally for essential goods, FMCG, staple, and uninformed produce, it’s significantly fragmented,” pronounced Ganesh Rengaswamy, Managing Partner during Quona Capital, in an interview. “Whereas a marketplace has changed on in terms of being means to some-more well consolidate, direct and supply. Ula is perplexing to redo a sell placement ecosystem with a poignant record overlay. It’s joining some of a largest players in a supply side to a smallest retailers and consumers.”

Additionally, Ula is providing these micro retailers, who customarily work from tiny shops that are extensions of their homes, with operative collateral so that they don’t have to wait to be paid by their business to buy a new collection of inventory. (It’s a vicious plea that micro-retailers face in Asian markets. These shops have clever holds with their customers, so mostly they sell them equipment though removing paid upfront. Collecting this remuneration mostly takes longer than it should.)

“Frictionless remuneration and charity credit to retailers so that they can some-more well conduct their cashflow are vicious components of complicated digital commerce,” pronounced Rengaswamy. For Quona, that has corroborated several e-commerce and fintech startups in Asia, Ula checks both a boxes.

Mehra pronounced final year was mostly about expanding a Ula group and building a record stack. The startup now skeleton to muster a collateral to strech some-more tiny retailers and enhance within a nation.

Indonesia will sojourn Ula’s concentration market. The event in a segment itself is really large. The sell spend is approaching to transcend $0.5 trillion over a subsequent 4 years, pronounced Kabir Narang, Founding General Partner during B Capital Group, in a statement. Traditional in-store sell accounts for scarcely 80% of a sum sell market, according to some estimates.

Ula now operates in a FMCG and food and unfeeling spaces, though it intends to enlarge a offerings to embody attire and eventually electronics.


A few some-more things from my notes:

  • Like many other startups in Asia, Ula mostly relies on feet-and-street sales people to widespread a word out about a offerings and onboarding new shops. The pivotal to growing, pronounced Mehra, is to get a few retailers who are really happy with a services and see a value and afterwards tell their friends about it. It’s a training he credited to Indian business-to-business e-commerce height Udaan co-founders Amod Malviya, Vaibhav Gupta and Sujeet Kumar, with whom he worked during Flipkart behind in a day. Udaan co-founders have corroborated Ula.
  • Electronics is a difficulty that is really renouned among B2C and B2B e-commerce platforms. Mehra pronounced he has always famous that a startup could enhance to electronics, so it has selected to concentration on other categories initial that exam a supply sequence network.
  • Indonesia comprises of some-more than 17,000 islands, though usually a handful of islands including Java and Sumatra contributes many to a GDP.
  • I asked Quona’s Rengaswamy to pull parallels between e-commerce and payments markets of India and Indonesia. He pronounced India has done some-more inroads with formulating frictionless payments. But on a flip side, this has combined intensity for startups in Indonesia to solve additional challenges.

About the Author