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Mbiz COO and Co-Founder Ryn Hermawan

It has been a year since B2B/G e-commerce platform Mbiz was launched to the public. And when e27 sat down with COO and Co-Founder Ryn Hermawan at the company’s office in South Jakarta, there are many updates to share.

One of the most important updates is that the company has closed its Series A round, led by Japanese leasing company Tokyo Century Corporation (TCC).

Though the exact number was undisclosed, Hermawan said that it has put the company’s valuation to IDR1 trillion (US$75 million). He also announced that Mbiz has recorded positive cash flow since last year.

“This is a happy news for a company that has been operating effectively for eight months,” he said.

Mbiz itself is an e-procurement and e-catalogue platform which aims at blue chip companies as its main target market. The platform aims to simplify procurement process which manually, might involve face-to-face meetings, submission of catalogue, and the bidding process itself.

The platform has helped companies to purchase all kinds of products needed to run their business, from lunch boxes, motorbikes, to even a Mercedes Benz car.

Backed by Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group, the launch of Mbiz followed the earlier launch of the group’s B2C e-commerce platform MatahariMall.

Mbiz has also been chosen by the Indonesian government as an official partner for its e-procurement service.

“Our earlier mislestone is that we have managed to achieve the kind of MVP that we wanted to [build]. But the other milestone is that our product evolves much faster than we expect it to be,” Hermawan said.

“Apart from providing a procurement solutions, it turned out that we have also impacted the finance and other aspects of the company’s operation … So the MVP continues to grow and matured,” he added.

Also Read: Living in the fast lane at MatahariMall HQ

A different battle

Mbiz claimed to have secured more than 600 companies as partners, which may become both buyers and sellers interchangeably.

While 2016 and 2017 were the years Mbiz focussed on educating the market about its business, 2018 will be the year the company expands its services by offering new categories as there is a shifting trend among the startup’s clients.

Previously they tend to purchase goods to support their daily operations, but recently there is a higher recurrence of customised items, such as uniforms and marketing gimmicks.

Mbiz has also begun handling requests for marketing events organising, such as outsourcing for MCs or promotional banners.

Often being perceived by the public as a “safer” option for tech startups, operating an e-commerce platform that caters to the B2B/G segment has its own unique challenges and opportunities.

“We see that market penetration is quite challenging, as we are not only changing the habit of an individual, but also a corporation, and it is strongly related to the company’s policy, structure, and process. The barrier of entry is the challenge on how to embed our solutions to the existing process in that company,” Hermawan said.

“But there is also a great opportunity for us as by entering a company’s process, we are creating a barrier of entry [for our competitors],” he added.

It is also not that easy for customers to change into other e-procurement service provider.

“Even if a competitor is able to provide a better solution than us, most likely, our customers will reach out to us first and ask if we can provide the same for them,” Hermawan said.

Also Read: MatahariMall Chairman denies involvement in Rolls Royce bribery case

The future of Indonesian e-commerce: B2B/G?

Industry players believe that the Indonesian e-commerce industry have begun to enter a period of consolidation.

In 2016, major fashion e-commerce startups such as Berrybenka and SaleStock are laying off their employess, and fate is much crueler for smaller players such as Lolalola (which had been shut down) and PinkEmma (which had temporarily closed its service).

With B2B/G e-commerce platforms, the situation is a different.

“B2B is still in its infancy. Even with LKKPN [the government’s e-procurement service] there is still very little absorbency, about less than five per cent. There is a great opportunity here. So we cannot say that we have reached consolidation, as no one [in the sector] is currently able to manage that big of an order from the government,” Hermawan said.

This is also the reason why Mbiz is not too concerned about competing with startups working in the same area, and would rather focus on developing the solutions that its customers needed.

“B2B requires direct penetration towards its customers, because what they needed is not really out in the open. There’s a great element of personalisation in the service we provide, and it’s not something that is open to the public as each company has their own unique SOPs,” Hermawan explained.

“B2B is all about building long-term relationships. With B2C, it is all about convenience, pricing, and speed. When customers can’t find it in one site, they immediately move to other site. But with B2B there are more factors to consider. It’s not always about the pricing,” he stressed.

Image Credit: Mbiz

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