Up-and-coming Indonesian e-commerce startup Ula has raised $87 million in its recent Series B funding round led by Prosus Ventures, Tencent, and B Capital.
However, what caught everyone’s attention is an infusion from Bezos Expeditions, the amount of which has not been disclosed.
According to TechCrunch, Bezos’s investment comes at a time when Amazon has not yet significantly entered the Southeast Asian e-commerce market. For many years, Amazon has tried to expand its footprint in the region, only for its business model to lose to major local players like Sea Ltd and other tech giants like Facebook.
Bezos’s recent investment in Ula may be another attempt at entering the region through Amazon’s tried and tested channel: small businesses. Early this year, Amazon held the first Southeast Asia Seller Summit in Singapore, with an aim to equip sellers for cross-border transactions.
This is partly in line with Ula’s objectives, which is to provide local sellers with the tools they need to reach more Indonesian customers. In a recent article, Ula COO and co-founder Riky Tenggara said that as e-commerce giants in Indonesia scale and provide consumers the best prices in the market, Indonesia’s small neighbourhood pop-up stores, called warungs, suffer.
With the help of Ula, warungs and other small businesses can optimize their supply chains, inventory, and working capital. Ula operates a wholesale e-commerce platform to assist store owners by allowing them to maintain only the goods they require and provides them access to capital.
“By providing a wider selection of goods, transparent prices, and reliable doorstep delivery through a few clicks, we empower retailers to remain competitive in this digitalized world. More tellingly, it has enabled a traditionally underserved segment to be part of the digital transformation that Southeast Asia is going through,” said Tenggara.
Ula’s three major offerings are a B2B marketplace, a community selling program, and Titik Ula, a program where any unutilized residential or commercial space can become an Ula pick-up point and another revenue stream.
Over the last few years, Bezos has been known to quietly invest in small start-ups around the world. In June of this year, he came back to Africa and invested in a recent funding round for Chipper Cash, a cross-border, peer-to-peer payments platform.