Indonesian Firms Lead The Under 30 Asia Startups Fueling Regional E-Commerce

With a population of 274 million and a growing tech-savvy middle-class, Indonesia has an increasing appetite for consumption. Last year, the Indonesia Statistics Bureau stated that household consumption contributed 54% of the country’s $1.2 trillion in gross domestic products. Digital consumers are growing fast as well, with the Covid-19 pandemic being a catalyst. According to the Google, Temasek and Bain e-Conomy SEA 2021 report published in November 2021, Indonesia has seen 21 million new digital consumers since the beginning of the pandemic, with 72% coming from non-metro areas.

With these statistics, it’s easy to see why six out of the 30 companies on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia: Retail & Ecommerce list are from Indonesia.

One of them is Aplikasi Super. Launched in 2018, the social commerce firm is working to lower prices of consumer goods in smaller cities and rural areas in Indonesia, where they typically cost more than in larger cities. Focusing on the less developed eastern part of the country, Super operates in cities with GDP per capita of no more than $5,000 and works with a network of resellers who fulfill demand from consumers pooled through its app to achieve economies of scale via bulk orders from areas producers have difficulty reaching. Super currently serves 30 cities in East Java and South Sulawesi, and has raised a total of $36 million from investors including Alpha JWC Ventures, B Capital, Y-Combinator, Softbank, rapper Jay-Z and World Bank managing director Mari Elka Pangestu.

Under 30 2022 listees Debeasinta Budiman and Garret Koeswandi drive product development and logistics, respectively, and are among Super’s cofounders along with two cofounders over 30, Michael Rendy and Willy Haryanto, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia alumnus Steven Wongsoredjo. “Since I was a child, my family often took me to visit rural areas, and I realized the price discrepancies. So I’ve been motivated to help these people,” says Budiman, who previously worked at Google as a search localization analyst and has a family background in consumer goods. She met Wongsoredjo when they were both studying in the U.S. and joined Super in 2019. “Super started in 2018, but they didn’t have a product development team, so that is where I came in,” says Budiman.

Koeswandi worked as a consultant in businesses including supply chain infrastructure, before joining Super in 2018, and is currently its vice president of operations. “We noticed that people in the rural areas have the purchasing power, what they don’t have is access (to products). So, we provide this access,” he says. Koeswandi builds partnerships with local vendors as well as truckers and delivery firms to ensure next-day delivery. As a result, the company claims to save up to 70% of distribution costs by harnessing local talent rather than using big logistics companies. Super also provides jobs and extra income for resellers from commissions when they sell to retailers or customers in their neighborhood.

“We noticed that people in the rural areas have the purchasing power, what they don’t have is access (to products). So, we provide this access.”

Garrett Koeswandi, cofounder of Aplikasi Super

“I get 1.5 million to 2 million rupiah ($100-$125) a month from Super by selling the goods to warungs (mom-and-pop stores), triple of what I earned from my previous job,” says Moch Chairizal Usman Gozaly, one of Super’s agents in Gamping village in East Java. Gozaly, who joined Super in November, spends four hours each day visiting 20 warungs to pool demand since his customers don’t own smartphones. Local retailers buy from Ghozaly because it is cheaper, and they also save time and money traveling to the nearest distributor an hour’s drive away.

Besides consumer goods produced by companies, Super also sells products sourced from local manufacturers under its own label. It leverages data to track customer preferences and tastes, including those unmet by consumer goods companies, and develops affordable products to fulfill that demand. Budiman says there is a huge opportunity for Super’s private label products, which she plans to double down on, while Koeswandi plans to expand to more cities.

Quick Commerce

Quick commerce is also on the rise in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.The promise of fast deliveries–usually within 20 minutes–is made possible by operating logistics hubs in strategic locations called dark stores.

Astro–an Indonesia-based quick commerce startup cofounded by Marcella Moniaga and Sherlyn Adhianni Gautama in September 2021–made the list this year. Currently serving the greater Jakarta area, it delivers groceries and other essentials within 15 minutes, supplying over 1,000 products round-the-clock. In February, Astro closed a $27 million series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and U.S.-based Accel, following $4.5 million seed funding in November from AC Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Goodwater Capital.

Another Indonesian entry on the list is Dropezy. Chandi Chainani and Nitesh Chellaram cofounded the quick commerce startup, offering 20-minute delivery of daily essentials and fresh items on a 24×7 basis. Catering to several areas in greater Jakarta, the startup bagged $2.5 million in pre-series A funding led by Forge Ventures.

Social Commerce

While quick commerce startups operate dark stores to achieve the fastest delivery possible, social commerce on the other hand relies on social network communities to drive sales.

Evermos is one example. Founded in 2018 by Iqbal Muslimin and Andika Saputra, the Indonesian social commerce platform enables resellers and small businesses to sell halal products suitable for Muslim consumers. The company claims to have over 600 brands on its platform with more than 500,000 resellers, primarily women and stay-at-home moms with no fixed income, who receive commissions from selling products. Evermos has raised $38 million in funding, including a $30 million series B round led by UOB Venture Management in September 2021.

“Social and quick commerce are on the rise and received a boost from the pandemic that accelerated (digital) adoption and demand.” says Chandra Tjan, cofounder and general partner of Jakarta-based Alpha JWC Ventures.

“Over the past two years, amidst lockdowns and safety measures, many small businesses were forced to be creative in selling their goods,” he says adding that quick commerce is a benefiter of the pandemic.

“Many had to work from home, and suddenly, there was a spike in online purchases and delivery for goods such as groceries and work-from-home peripherals that required a quick delivery,” he adds. Tjan, who is one of the judges for this year’s list (in the Consumer Technology category) is also an investor in both Aplikasi Super and Evermos. Despite only betting on social commerce so far, Tjan says he sees good potential in quick commerce and willing to invest in companies that offer exciting concepts.

Outside Indonesia, quick commerce is taking hold as well and attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. Founded by Stanford computer science dropouts Adit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra in August 2021, India-based quick commerce company Zepto is almost a unicorn. Valued at $900 million after its latest $200 million series D round led by Y Combinator in May, Zepto’s claimed 10 minutes delivery service is available in 11 cities in India and growing.

To learn more about these innovative entrepreneurs, read our complete Retail & Ecommerce list here – and be sure to check out our full Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia coverage here.

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