Vietnam-Based E-Commerce Solutions Startup Lozi Closes Smilegate Investment-Led Funding Round

7/11/2019 – Vietnam-based e-commerce platform startup Lozi recently announced that it has raised an eight-digit funding, in American dollars, in a funding round led by South Korea’s Smilegate Investment. The emerging tech startup, which provides consumer-to-consumer services and solutions on its e-commerce platform as well as operating its own fleet for its on-demand delivery service LoShip, will use the freshly acquired funds to further expand across Vietnam and fulfill its goal of becoming the country’s one-stop solution for one-hour delivery needs.

The funding round also saw the participation of local accelerator Vietnam Silicon Valley, JC Capital (US), DTNI, and Ascendo Ventures (South Korea), among others. In 2015, the startup agreed to a US$500,000 venture capital agreement with DesignOne Japan and Singapore’s early-stage venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures, both of which value the tech startup at US$2 million in 2018.

Nguyen Hoang Trung, chief executive officer and co-founder of Lozi, said that the funds secured from its funding round will give it an edge in improving and growing its one-hour delivery services, which will also help the tech startup to accomplish its aim of becoming Vietnam’s fastest growing intra-city e-commerce portal. The injection of investment capital also means that the startup can now aim for an annual revenue target of US$31 million by 2020, as well as tripling the amount of its daily transactions in the next 12 months. Eventually, Lozi wants to provide 20 services in total for consumers and clients on its e-commerce platform. The funds raised from the Smilegate Investment-led round will also be used to penetrate Vietnam’s competitive ride-hailing market with the launch of its new feature, Lo-xe.

Established in 2014 by Nguyen Hoang Trung – who was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list for the year 2017 – and his friends, Lozi started out as a food app but has since extended its product platform to include reviewing food and as an consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform for the buying and selling of various product categories including fashion, vehicles, electronics and others. It also launched a mobile on-demand food delivery service, LoShip. Initially Lozi had around 5,000 users at launch, but the numbers jumped to 200,000 users after just 12 months while the website traffic also grew 4 times from 500,000 to over 2 million views per month.

Lozi started offering its one-hour delivery service that provides hyperlocal consumer-to-consumer e-commerce, food delivery, grocery delivery, and on-demand laundry service covering the four big Vietnamese cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Can Tho since 2018. Their LoShip drivers, who make direct pickups from local merchants, aim to provide faster delivery to consumers.

Kim Kyoung Hwan, who is vice-president at one of Smilegate Investment’s investment divisions, noted the multi-faceted feature of Lozi’s hybrid business model, which integrates an e-commerce platform with on-demand delivery that is serviced by the startup’s own fleet. This provides an opportunity for sellers as it eliminates the need for warehousing. Kim added:“Lozi enables local retail offline sellers who have no proper ability to expand into online business to enjoy online-offline multi-business.”

Lozi will face stiff competition from regional unicorns Grab and Gojek – which operates in Vietnam as GoViet – besides other aspiring Vietnamese startups. Still, with the funding secured from its latest funding round led by South Korea’s Smilegate Investment, the e-commerce startup has plenty of room to grow.

Cambodia’s Dakdam Incubator Selects Six Promising Local Agriculture Startups for Participation

04/11/2019 – Six promising Cambodian agriculture startups have been selected to join the Dakdam Incubator program, which is run by Impact Hub Phnom Penh, HEKS Cambodia and the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC) Cambodia. The six startups were chosen based on their merits and strengths in entrepreneurship, leadership skills, depth of understanding of the problems at hand, quality and viability of potential solutions validated by the market, strategic planning and scalability. The incubation phase for the startups will run from October 2019 through April 2020, and during this time period they will receive extensive mentoring and coaching, attend workshops and build networks and connections.

The aptly named Dakdam Incubator – dakdam means to plant a seed – is a 7-month long agriculture incubation program tailored for entrepreneurs with agriculture-focused prototypes or businesses that are both environmentally friendly and have the ability to positively impact Cambodia’s agriculture sector. The incubation program is designed to assist and nurture agriculture startups as they develop viable, responsible business models that propel their products and solutions to the market. Ultimately the startups, under the guidance of the Dakdam Incubator program, will help small-holder farmers – and in particular the women – increase incomes, reduce costs and improve resilience.

Melanie Mossard, director of venture support at Impact Hub Phnom Penh, said that a total of 65 teams applied to join the incubation program in September. She further added that through the pitching session, and after the passionate debate between the judges, they finally agreed on the six teams to award the US$5,000 funding and intensive support to.

The startups chosen to participate in the incubation program are Saart Mushroom, Camkaseka, Reacheny, De Lotusia Enterprise, Smart Farm Assistance and Junlen. All six were chosen for the incubation program will receive up to US$7,500 in grant funding. Additionally, they will gain access to workshops conducted by topic experts, personal mentors that will guide and support their personal development, extensive coaching from industry and sector experts that are tailored to their needs, and access to Impact Hub’s network, both national and international, for forming strategic connections and business partnerships.

The startups will also get on-the-ground support as the incubation program will give important advice on how to conduct regular field trips, besides helping them to analyze results that come from the testing of their prototype and business models with farmers. There will also be demo days where each of the startups are given an opportunity to showcase their business to investors, partners and the general public so that they can build exposure and increase awareness.

After six months of incubation, all of the startup teams will compete again over their business plans in order to choose the best team. The incubation program will then connect the startup with investors.

Norng Sivouthan, country director of HEKS Cambodia, said: “I feel confident that the teams will have a positive impact on smallholder farmers in Cambodia. I am happy that we found the winning teams based on their innovation and viable business models providing potential benefits to Cambodian farmers. We know their journey to success will face challenges and hope they can continue to move forward towards their dreams.”

Ms. Mossard further commented that Dakdam Incubator is excited to see the progress, the passion and the commitment of the chosen teams over the last 2 months. The incubation program will continue to provide crucial support and mentoring for these local agriculture startups during the coming months so that they are able to strengthen their business and entrepreneurship skills, and as a result help Cambodia’s agriculture sector to grow and thrive.