Five-month-old Indonesian startup raises $10.5M

30 Jun 2020

After five months in business, the Indonesian e-commerce startup Ula has raised $10.5 million in a round led by Sequoia India and Lightspeed India. Additional participation was offered by SMDV, Quona Capital, Saison Capital and Alter Global.

Ula was founded with the aim of simplifying wholesale supply chain sourcing for small retailers through e-commerce strategies. The self-described multi-category wholesale e-commerce marketplace is currently focusing on the FMCG sector and supermarket staples due to the necessity of accessing these goods during the ongoing pandemic.

Five-month-old Indonesian startup raises $10.5M

The majority of Asia’s supermarket retail remains reliant on traditional stores that are cost-efficient and able to tailor their offerings to their clientele. However, these same stores that are vital to providing food to Asian populations are also often lacking working capital, have poor sourcing supply chains, and are unable to benefit from economies of scale. Ula is looking to step in as the middleman and provide these traditional grocers access to working capital credit to allow flexibility for paying for goods while also allowing them to purchase only the quantity of product that they require.

The supermarket sector is benefitting particularly from the startup's approach due to its dependence on maintaining a varied inventory that is sourced from dozens of wholesalers and distributors. “A grocery store might need to source inventory from up to 50 different sources (wholesalers and distributors) every week and sometimes order in bulk to get better rates, even when they don’t need such large quantities,” explained Derry Sakti, co-founder of Ula.

Although the startup only arrived on the market in January, it has already grown 10 times since its launch with previous consumers returning to buy up to three times their original purchase volumes. Ula did not offer specific growth numbers.

Despite its popularity, the startup remains in private beta where it is primarily partnering with small retailers in East Java. Ula plans to use its capital infusion from this first funding round to expand across Indonesia and introduce its platform into additional categories, such as apparel and electronics.

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