Zaapi raises US$4.5m to empower Southeast Asia’s small businesses through mobile-first e-commerce

Published on
March 24, 2022

Zaapi, a mobile app that enables small businesses to launch their e-commerce presence within seconds, has raised a US$4 million seed round.

zaapi raises 4 million
  • The US$4m seed round of funding was led by GFC, Flourish Ventures, and Partech with participation from institutional investors including 1982 Ventures, Kaya Founders, Iterative, Sequoia Sprout and Sketchnote Partners / Invertidos as well as a number of angels including CRED’s Kunal Shah and Dukaan’s Summit Shah
  • Zaapi also raised US$500,000 pre-seed funding in March 2021 from Flash Ventures, bringing the total amount raised to date to US$4.5MM
  • The company launched in Thailand in August 2021 and has now onboarded close to 10,000 merchants across the country

Singapore, XXX 2022 – Zaapi, a mobile app that enables small businesses to launch their e-commerce presence within seconds, has raised a US$4 million seed round. Prominent venture capital investors, including GFC, Flourish Ventures, and Partech, led the investment. Other institutional investors in the round include 1982 Ventures, Kaya Founders, Iterative, Sequoia Sprout and Sketchnote Partners/Invertidos. Flash Ventures, an early backer in Zaapi with ties to GFC, invested US$500,000 in pre-seed funding in March 2021, allowing the company to launch in Thailand in August 2021. The most recent round will allow Zaapi to triple down on their efforts to build and scale the best-in-class product regionally.

Wilfried Buiron, an experienced e-commerce founder who previously built and run a direct-to-consumer brand, launched Zaapi in 2021 with a mission to build the digital commerce infrastructure for Southeast Asia’s micro- and small-to-medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). 

“Zaapi is being built at an inflection point in the adoption of e-commerce by Southeast Asian MSMEs, which is driven by two macro trends: Southeast Asia’s skyrocketing mobile internet penetration, and the digital disruption to traditional business brought about by the pandemic,” said Wilfried Buiron, Founder of Zaapi.

Today, Zaapi provides MSMEs with an easy-to-use interface that lets business owners quickly create an online store from their mobile devices. This e-commerce use case will remain the company’s core focus in the near term as Zaapi sees many as-yet-unexplored opportunities for growth such as social commerce and marketing tool integrations. Over time however, it is Zaapi’s vision to move towards digitizing other core functions of the MSME, ultimately providing them with a one-stop-shop digital solution to manage their business.

“We are delighted to welcome GFC, Flourish, and Partech as new investors in the company. The funding will enable us to build the region’s best-in-class product for MSMEs and supercharge our growth,” said Buiron. “The pandemic has turned digital adoption into a necessity for the region’s 100m+ MSMEs and we will strive to become their partner of choice on that journey.”

E-commerce & MSMEs in Southeast Asia

E-commerce GMV in Southeast Asia is predicted to triple from $100b+ in 2020 to $300b+ in 2025, which underscores the tremendous opportunity in the space. Furthermore, with MSMEs accounting for half of Southeast Asian GDP and only ~20% using digital tools today, the region is poised to witness the rapid digitization of a segment predicted to be worth $2t by 2025. 

Leading investors

“Zaapi's vision of empowering MSMEs to expand online and grow their revenues significantly has transformative potential for these businesses and we’re tremendously excited to see that vision come to life”, said Lorenzo Franzi, Partner at GFC. “We have consistently been impressed by Wilfried and his team's ability to execute and look forward to seeing them accelerate growth and support the success of a new generation of entrepreneurs across these high potential markets.”

“Our investment in Zaapi supports our investment thesis to empower small merchants to benefit from the fast growing digital economy. Zaapi is addressing the needs of a very large target market in Southeast Asia that continues to expand exponentially,” said Smita Aggarwal, Global Investments Advisor at Flourish Ventures. “We are excited to see Zaapi  build a localised solution for the region that serves the long tail of small merchants and helps them flourish.”

“MSME’s are the heartbeat of Southeast Asia’s economies. As a small business entrepreneur himself, Wilfried has assembled a team that truly understands the very specific needs of these businesses to help onboard them onto their digital journey, in order to enable them to grow and become increasingly agile and resilient” said Nicolas El Baze, General Partner at Partech.

About Zaapi

Zaapi is on a mission to build the digital commerce infrastructure for Southeast Asian MSMEs. From selling to buying and financing, Zaapi aims to digitize and supercharge all key functions of the small business. Our first step towards this vision is a mobile app that makes it easy for anyone to create an online store and start selling within seconds. 6 months after launching, we are now powering ~10,000 businesses across 70+ cities in our first market, Thailand.

For more information: https://www.zaapi.com/en 

About Flourish Ventures

Flourish Ventures backs entrepreneurs whose innovations advance financial health and prosperity for individuals and small businesses. With US$500M under management, Flourish is an early-stage, global fintech venture firm that deploys patient capital with a long-term perspective. The Flourish team has a deep understanding of industry dynamics and partners with fintech startups around the world that offer a range of digital financial services such as embedded finance platforms, consumer and small business lending, insurtech, agritech and neobanking. In South and Southeast Asia, Flourish has more than 20 investments including Apnaklub, Aqua Connect, Grab Finance, Gramcover, Qoala, ShopUp, TaniHub, Toffee, Yap, and Zest.  Flourish works with industry thought leaders in research, policy and regulation to better understand the needs of the underserved and help foster a fair, more inclusive economy.

For more information: https://flourishventures.com/ 

About GFC

For several years now, Global Founders Capital has worked alongside entrepreneurs throughout the world. Our teams, made up of operators and entrepreneurs, offer unique expertise and support in the technology sector. Over the last 20 years, we have helped over 500 companies grow throughout the world. Facebook, Linkedin, Pennylane, Ankorstore, Sunday, Zalando, HelloFresh, Eventbrite, Funding Circle, Slack, Revolut, Canva… to name but a few of our successes.

About Partech

Born in San Francisco and Paris, Partech is one of the most active tech investors in the world, bringing together capital, operational experience, and strategic support for entrepreneurs at seed, venture and growth stages. The current portfolio includes 200+ companies in more than 30 countries, of which 14 are valued at more than $1B: Alan, Bolt, Cazoo, Jellysmack, Made.com, ManoMano, Merama, People.ai, Rohlik, Sorare, Toss, Wave, WorldRemit, Xendit. 

Author:
Tanutcha R.
A girl who loves traveling and making music. Oops, I said nothing about writing, no?
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