e272016team

The e27 team at Echelon Asia Summit 2016 in Singapore this past June.

We hope the good news has already reached you, that we have just raised S$3 million (US$2.2 million) in Series A funding from a group of prominent investors in Asia, including TechTemple Group, Linear Venture, Convergence Ventures, Venturecraft and Spacemob. Some of them are new investors while others existing investors, who have come back to invest their faith in us one more time.

We, at e27, are so glad about this feat and we are receiving congratulatory messages and love, not just from the ecosystem people, but from all kinds of people across the world. But we are not going to bask in this glory, nor is this going to make us complacent. This is just a beginning and the real challenges are yet to come. Our immediate focus is to make sure that the spotlight shines back on the tech communities across Southeast Asia (SEA), who have been the real driving force behind the existence and growth of our platform.

Here’s why:

We aim to be an ecosystem builder, not just a media outlet

We realise the SEA startup ecosystem expects us to do more than just being a platform for startups to get featured. We want to be an all-in-one platform for the different stakeholders of the ecosystem.

Or, let’s look at it this way. Companies need four key areas for development — Information, Talent, Customers and Funding. It’s easy to build a media product, but it’s a whole new challenge to build synchronised online and offline products to consistently serve these four categories.

Yet, we have made it our mission to provide tools for entrepreneurs to build and grow their companies. We have also noticed that as soon as they (entrepreneurs, founders and startups) get featured on e27, their very next step is to list their jobs on our site and also feature their products and services on our marketplace.

Again, this is just the beginning.

At this point, the natural direction for us is to weave the online and offline functions in order to create a full-fledged, interactive ecosystem product, not just an uni-directional digital media.

Again, this ties back to our vision which is to focus on building tools and services to help startups grow. These four tools are the very foundation of our platform, for which the demand has been consistently going up since we started.

And our work is far from over.

We believe bridging the gap between China and SEA is key

An ecosystem must grow out and up at the same time. We know that China has got brilliant entrepreneurs and impressive market opportunities, made up of companies and people who have accomplished what Southeast Asia has been trying to do for long, many times over.

What we want to tap together with our new investors and partners is the knowledge and the mentor and investor base in China. We are talking about a group of passionate, intelligent and experienced mentors and entrepreneurs who  want to invest their time and money in Southeast Asia, and we are set to provide a gateway for them over the next few years.

Nonetheless, we recognise that for many of these cases, there are challenges — such as language, network, personal and professional interest barriers — that will take a huge background knowledge to understand and overcome.

Similarly, there are mid-sized, growth-stage startups in China who want to expand to Southeast Asia. These are companies actively seeking business partnerships with companies, investors and corporates in Southeast Asia. In the past few years, this trend is being led by behemoths like Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba that have successfully made inroads into Southeast Asia. I believe this very drive and interest will continue to spread to the early- and growth-stage startups, who will continue to seek stronger professional relationships in Southeast Asia.

We believe Indonesia is set to be the cornerstone of SEA’s growth

We have seen Indonesia grow in the last few years with much potential, and now the time has come for multiple stakeholders across Indonesia to wake up and take this growth to the next level.

With our early investment in DailySocial a few years ago, we have had the honour of working closely with an amazing anchor team on the ground and we are proud to share a common vision for the tech and startup ecosystem, not just in Indonesia, but across Asia.

Convergence Ventures is a part of our investment round, and they are one of the most active investors in the region with a strong network on the ground. To be a core part of both parties’ growth is something we look forward to.

This ties back to our desire to pull together stronger cross-border Southeast Asia linkages, where many regional startups and entrepreneurs want to work with the key players in Indonesia and China. Judging by Indonesia’s large potential market, talented entrepreneurs, developers and low living cost, more funding is being directed their way.

Again, this potential does not come without core challenges such as infrastructure, regulations and traffic (it is heartening to see startups as well as the government have been working hard to solve these problems). And these challenges have not stopped and will not stop us from heavily investing into Indonesia’s startup ecosystem or supporting its move towards positioning itself as the cornerstone of the SEA ecosystem.

Here’s why we want you to be a part of our journey

Our current team of 25 based all across Asia have been going strong. However, this massive ecosystem is not something we can tackle alone. Our funds are going to be used to hire people so that we can execute our mission that we have laid out. We are also going to continue to develop features and improve our online service, as it will allow us to scale to new cities. The investment will also help us reach out to more entrepreneurs and startups, and improve on our products to make it more user-friendly and easy-to-use, so that it will create an impact on the ecosystem.

If you’d like to join us in our journey, drop us a friendly note on Facebook, at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Here’s to the next few years of building a community we can be proud of, together.