Intrepid Group, a Southeast Asian e-commerce consultancy, announced that it has closed its Series A for an undisclosed amount to help Chinese brands tap the rapidly growing Southeast Asian e-commerce industry.

Why it matters: Similar to China a few years ago, countries in Southeast Asia (SEA) have a rapidly rising middle class and increasingly tech-savvy consumers, and is a popular destination for Chinese brands and e-commerce platforms looking to expand in search of growth.

  • E-commerce in SEA is forecasted to be worth $40 billion in 2019, and is expected to rise to $150 billion by 2025, according to a Bain & Company report.
  • Export cross-border commerce is rising as Chinese e-commerce marketplaces like Alibaba and JD.com, as well as smaller players such as Club Factory, are jumping on board.

“E-commerce environment in South East Asia is very different from China. There are many local platforms to sell on, Lazada, Shopee, Tokopedia, Facebook, Instagram. Advertising is done via Google and Facebook. South East Asia is also very fragmented, there are 6 markets with very different consumers, different cultures, different languages, different regulations.”

Charles Debonneuil, Intrepid Group CEO and co-founder of Lazada Group, in a statement

Overcoming market fragmentation is key to success in SEA: Lazada founder

Details: Singapore-based Intrepid Group was founded in 2017 and is run by co-founders and former executives of Alibaba-backed Lazada. It offers management services on e-commerce platforms.

  • The round was lead by SEA venture capital firm Kairous Capital, and followed by Sun SEA Capital, a venture capital firm backed by Malaysian conglomerates Sunway Group as well as early stage-investment firm 500 Startups Vietnam.
  • The company has already set up core e-commerce operations across Southeast Asia, and tested the services with well-known local brands.
  • The funding will be put toward the company’s second stage of growth: helping Chinese brands enter the Southeast Asian market. Chinese-speaking local teams in each SEA market will help Chinese clients to understand the regional e-commerce industry.
  • The company already has offices in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, and is starting operations in Thailand and Malaysia.

Context: In April 2019, Intrepid raised $2 million in funding from several Swedish family offices at a post-money valuation of $9 million.

  • Lazada is an important component of Alibaba’s overseas expansion. The e-commerce giant gained control of Lazada in 2016 by acquired 51% stake with an investment of $1 billion. Alibaba further increased its stake to 83% with another $1 billion investment in June 2017 and then an additional $2 billion in 2018.

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

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