A major challenge facing growth-stage startups in Malaysia is lack of funding. While there are quite a few early-stage venue funds to cut cheques for startups in the seed stage, there are not many who are willing to inject money in their growth stages. This often discourages startups from aggressively pursuing scaling and expansion plans.
In a recent interview with e27, Raja Hamzah, Managing Partner of RHL Ventures, an active VC in Malaysia, admitted that there is still a big funding gap in the growth-stage startup space. Even though the previous government had set up a RM 1 billion fund to bridge this gap, it failed to materialise. The good thing is that many VCs including RHL Ventures are now seriously considering to launch funds to invest in growth-stage firms.
While many tech companies are struggling to raise growth funding, there’re a few who have bucked the trend and weathered all the odds to become a brand name in their respective industries.
Below is the list of five such startups in Malaysia.
Founded in 2012, Jirnexu is a fintech startup that enables banks, insurance companies, and service providers to think mobile-first and innovate the way they generate leads online, turn those leads into customers, handle their fulfilment and keep them loyal. Jirnexu’s financial comparison tools enable consumers to save money and make better decisions.
The company was started in Kuala Lumpur when its co-founders met and realised that they share a mutual passion for giving individuals the financial advice and tools they needed to spend money wisely. In the Malaysian market, more and more people were applying for credit cards and loans than ever before, which was a boon for the financial services industry (FSI). What was missing for the banks and insurance companies was a way to move this application process online to expand the reach of their campaigns, reduce high acquisition costs, and differentiate themselves by offering customers a brand new level of convenience. Security was a concern and very few banks had a digital strategy at that point.
The Jirnexu co-founders identified this gap in the online market and set about creating a solution that would allow financial services providers to leverage the power of a digital acquisition channel, while simultaneously giving consumers an accessible system for keeping more money for themselves from each online financial service transaction they make.
Since inception, the startup has raised US$27 million over multiple rounds of funding, which include a US$11 million in Series B in December 2018 led by Experian and Japan-based SBI Group. Its other backers are Gobi Partners, Cento Ventures, SIG China, and Celebes Capital, among others.
Founded in November 2014 by Cheong and Choong Fui-Yu (Group CEO), Kaodim is an online platform to hire local services professionals such as house cleaners, home renovators and photographers. The firm operates as Kaodim in Malaysia and Singapore, Gawin in the Philippines, and Beres in Indonesia. It is currently operating in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Metro Manila, Singapore and Jakarta.
Since launch, the group has focused on expanding its presence in the Southeast Asian region. On the product front, the group introduced a new product called Kaodim Direct, which is aimed at providing an enhanced experience for selected services such as cleaning or air-condition servicing. Users are matched instantly to a highly rated service provider at a competitive fixed packaged price.
To date, the group has raised a total of US$11.6 million in funding over three rounds, including a US$7 million led by Square Peg Capital and an affiliate of SIG Asia Investment in November 2017. Its other invests include Venturra Capital, Beenext, 500 Startups, East Ventures and KK Fund.
Established in 2015 by Eric Cheng and Jiun Ee Teoh, Carsome enables customers to sell their vehicles directly to dealers nationwide through an online bidding portal. It facilitates the car-selling process from inspection, valuation, bidding, payment and logistics, allowing customers to sell their cars within 24 hours. The company claims that a user can potentially get up to 20 per cent higher than average trade-in price via its proprietary nationwide bidding platform.
Since January 2017, Carsome claims to have experienced more than four-fold growth in total transaction value, with the number of car sales facilitated on the platform grew more than quadrupled with more than 70 per cent of the transactions being done inter-city.
In addition to Malaysia, it has operations in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
So far, Carsome has raised US$27.4 million in funding over several rounds. This includes a US$19 million Series B funding round led by Burda Principal Investments in March 2018. Its other investors are Indogen Capital, InnoVen Capital, Lumia Capital, Burda Principal Investments, Gobi Partners and 500 Startups.
In 2014, Catcha Group and Evolution Media Capital joined together to launch iflix, an entertainment service for emerging markets. The firm offers a wide selection of TV shows, movies, hyper local originals, premium live sports and up-to-the-minute news from around the world, to stream or download, on any internet connected device.
Created specifically for the more than one billion consumers in emerging markets, iflix now offers users two experiences through its iflixFREE and iflixVIP offerings.
iflix is currently available to consumers in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Maldives, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Cambodia, Nigeria, Nepal, Bangladesh and Morocco.
To date, the company has raised US$298 million over several rounds, including an undisclosed sum in corporate round from Yoshimoto Kogyo in April this year. Its other investors include Hearst Communications, Kwese, Jungle Ventures and K3 Ventures.
Founded in September 2014, The Lorry focusses offers a logistics platform that connects both individuals and corporate clients to lorry, truck, and van owners in their database across Southeast Asia.
Using the platform, individual customers can do, what it claims to be a house moving and furniture transport. TheLorry highlights that it also serves multinational corporations in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail, industrial, and e-commerce sectors with technology-enabled distribution and long haul transport solutions.
The company has raised US$7.4 million over several rounds, including a US$5.85 million Series B led by FirstFloor Capital in April this year.