Singapore-based startup Plugo has raised $9 million in a Series A funding round. The company offers a full spectrum of e-commerce support services for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, from creating a website, setting up a payment system and managing marketing to handling shipping, warehousing and logistics . In other words, Plugo enables D2C merchants to focus on their products and supports other processes.
The Series A round was led by Altos Ventures, with participation from BonAngels Ventures Partners, Access Ventures, Mahanusa Capital, Prodigy Investment and Pearl Abyss Capital. When asked, the company did not disclose its valuation.
The startup plans to use the proceeds to strengthen its R&D team and hire more engineers, said Plugo co-founder and CEO KyungMin Bang, adding that it currently employs about 30 people.
Bang founded Plugo two months ago with five founders. About 200 D2C brands have already started using Plugo’s beta service in Indonesia. The Singapore-based startup with offices in Indonesia and South Korea plans to officially launch its service in Indonesia in the first quarter of next year.
The company plans to focus on the Indonesian market, one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia, for the next 12 months, and then expand to other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, Bang told ExamPaper. It has partnered with a range of logistics companies, including Indonesia-based JNE Express, SiCepat and J&T, and a payment channel such as Nicepay Indonesia, Bang noted.
Bang, a serial entrepreneur, was inspired to offer an end-to-end management system for D2C brands and merchants in Indonesia to set up online stores after realizing the Indonesian D2C market, which accounts for less than 1% of total e-commerce in the country, is emerging but growing rapidly.
Indonesia’s D2C market is expected to have huge growth potential, with the fourth largest population size, including the growing young population in the coming years and the rapid penetration of smartphone users in the country, Bang stressed.
“Local businesses [in Indonesia] have accelerated their adoption of digital technology thanks to innovation in the e-commerce ecosystem and dynamic changes in consumer behavior,” said Bang. In Indonesia, D2C platforms have become a new trend in the business-to-consumer e-commerce industry ( B2C) platform that has dominated the e-commerce market for the past decade, explains Bang.
The startup appears to be challenging ecommerce players such as Shopify in Southeast Asia. “I believe we have huge potential because there is still a lot of room for growth and huge gaps [in the D2C business] that major e-commerce giants like Shopify couldn’t yet address [in Southeast Asia]. For example, we can offer tailor-made services, especially for small merchants such as MSMEs in the region, and enable them to sell online,” said Bang.
“We believe the timing is perfect for the birth of Plugo as the e-commerce landscape experiences turbulence that will nurture positive disruptions, benefiting aspiring sellers and consumers alike,” said Charles Rim, founder and general partner of Access Ventures, in a statement.
Bang previously left two startups: Indonesian e-commerce enabler TokoTalk operator CodeBrick, which bought the Singaporean e-commerce Sea per Pitchbook in 2021, and Korean PC online game J2MSoft (J2M), which Electronic Arts acquired in 2008. (According to a report from Tech in Aisa, Sea has shut down the TokoTalk service since October in an effort to cut costs amid wider economic uncertainty.)
“Plugo’s mission aligns with our own mission to create significant economic value while making a positive contribution to society,” Moon-Suk Oh, partner at Altos Ventures, said in a statement. “Plugo offers an unrivaled range of digital capabilities that will transform the future of e-commerce in Indonesia.”