Blue Sky VC participates in $13.6 million round for Thailand’s aCommerce as Alibaba highlights Australian focus
Following on from its $25 million investment into Vinomofo, Australian firm Blue Sky Venture Capital has participated in a $13.6 million (US$10 million) round for Thailand end-to-end ecommerce logistics and services startup aCommerce, which works to help global brands set up in Southeast Asia.
Also participating in the round, which brings the total raised by the startup to over US$28 million since its founding in 2013, were Indonesian VC fund MDI Ventures, and Switzerland’s DKSH.
The funding will go towards helping the startup grow its presence across Southeast Asia and grow into new markets across the next 18 months aCommerce seeking a larger round.
Ben Dunphy of Blue Sky Venture Capital said though the unique characteristics of Southeast Asia are driving world-leading growth in terms of technology adoption, with an estimated 120,000 new users coming online every day, there is a dearth of capital available for later stage investments.
“With the extraordinary growth rates the region is experiencing and the overall size of the market, we feel it would be a wasted opportunity not to support companies through their next stage of growth,” he said.
“We are investing alongside some of the region’s leading venture funds and strategic investors. Having worked previously in the region, I believe it is critical for Australia to continue to forge links with Southeast Asia and build strong networks given the growth the region is experiencing.”
The startup, founded by Paul Srivorakul, Piers Bennett, and Peter Kopitz, works to help offline businesses leverage the growth of the ecommerce market by helping them set up their online retail presence, from marketing to customer service, warehousing, fulfilment, and payments.
With 1,000 employees across Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, aCommerce reports growth of 300 percent year on year, while the Southeast Asian ecommerce market as a whole is also estimated to grow by more than 30 percent annually to a growth of US$8 billion over the next 10 years.
The investment comes as Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba today announced that Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, would be touring Australia and New Zealand to educate companies about how they can use the company’s various platforms as a gateway to China and other international markets.
“We believe the international growth opportunity for Alibaba Group is enormous. ANZ is one of our key markets and a stronger presence here will advance our global goal of serving two billion consumers, while supporting tens of millions of small businesses, brands and retailers across the world,” Evans said.
Alibaba reports there are 1,300 Australian brands on Tmall and Tmall Global, 80 percent of which entered the Chinese market for the first time through these platforms.
Australia Post, for example, has a longstanding partnership with Tmall, two years ago launching a strategic partnership with the platform that has allowed local businesses to sell to China through Australia Post’s Tmall storefront, auspost.tmall.hk.
Australia Post then earlier this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Victorian Government to help identify Victorian businesses that would be well suited to joining its Tmall storefront.
Alibaba will be opening an Australian office in Melbourne later this year, with Maggie Zhou announced as managing director.
“With a local office and expanded team, we will be well-positioned to support Australian and New Zealand merchants already on our platforms, as well as new merchants looking to expand into China,” Zhou said.
“We have an active consumer base of 423 million across our China retail platforms where they have access to authentic and quality products from countries around the world. By working together with brands and retailers, we want to be an enabling force for local businesses and entrepreneurs striving for success.”
Image: Paul Srivorakul. Source: Supplied.