5 Southeast Asia Startups To Watch in 2017


5 Southeast Asia Startups To Watch in 2017

Southeast Asia (SEA) e-commerce market is still fragmented and up for grabs. True that there are some big players in the market, like Lazada, but in comparison with the other developed markets, SEA still has the largest raw potential to grow. For the past 2 years many startups has been blooming in Southeast Asia, resulting in record high funding in the region, totalling US$2.6 billion. 2017 will definitely be another interesting year within the Southeast Asia startups community. These are the top 5 startups to keep an eye on for the year:

  • Omise

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Omise is a Thailand based leading online payment gateway. Omise was first founded in 2013, by co-founders Jun Hasegawa and Ezra Don Harinsut to offer a wide range of processing solutions for business needs. This idea begin with the vision to provide a proper payment solution for online stores in Thailand, as the major Payment Solution Providers requires cumbersome documentation, high transaction fees and considerable amount of time to gain approval. This forced many online sellers to receive payments through offline payment methods.

Omise allows everyone to sign up and make online payments seamlessly. With this, stores will be able to accept payments instantly, accept payments via social network, credit and debit cards as well. Providing the highest level of online payment security standard has always been Omise’s goal.

This Bangkok-based startup has now raised over $25 million, including a $2.6 million series A in May 2015, an undisclosed round from Golden Gate Ventures in Oct 2015 and a $17.5 million Series B round in July 2016. With these fundings, it is now seeking to expand across Southeast Asia. It is also stated that Omise is going to raise $19M in first cryptocurrency sale from a major VC- backed startup.

  • MatahariMall


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Matahari Mall is an Indonesian-based online marketplace where anyone can buy anything, and sell anything from electronics to groceries. This startup was launched in 2015, and managed to raise private equity worth over $600 million to fund its expansion and marketing activities.

Matahari Mall ceo Hadi Wenas said the platform would target the mobile segment more aggressively, considering 60% of its online traffic came from mobile users. They plan to intensify in-app and cross-device marketing. It has also partnered with 5,000 Pos Indonesia post offices nationwide to assist in handling customer orders.

Halo Gas is previously known as GrabGas, a Malaysian-based cooking gas delivery startup. GrabGas was one of the three winning startups in its inaugural cohort, but with its controversy over the blog post by GrabGas CTO about how the founders detailed his grievances over equity and the company’s lack of transparency. This transparency caused telco giant Digi Telecommunication to withdraw its planned investment in the startup, causing the fall of Grabs.

In 2017, the company rebranded and relaunched as HaloGas. They relaunched their system and began courting delivery drivers again. The founders described how without any marketing budget, the team just printed stickers with their logo on it to stick on gas delivery trucks. They are looking to redesign the website and upgrade its tech.

  • NuTonomy


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NuTonomy announced the world’s first autonomous vehicles available for public hire in Singapore on August 2016. While the name may not be familiar, but NuTonomy has been working with authorities in Singapore for some time as part of the country’s focus on surfacing new technology.

The company plans to introduce a fully-autonomous “robo” taxi service by 2018. They are also conducting trials in London and Michigan, and counts Jaguar Land Rover among its partners. However, in October 2016, one of NuTonomy’s self-driving cars hit a lorry while on a test drive. This is believe to be the first accident in Singapore involving an autonomous vehicle. The singapore-based startup resumed trials of driverless cars after an investigation and further improvement is done on its software system.

  • WeFit


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WeFit, a Vietnam-based startup founded in October 2016, aiming to be the Classpass or KFit of Vietnam. This might be one of the tech startups to tap on the $60 million worth fitness market in Vietnam. The fitness market is observing a 20% growth every year.

According to Khoi Nguyen, founder of WeFIt, This model works as it creates more options for beginners instead of hardcore gymnast. There are also signals showing that this model could works as many are increasingly willing to pay for such services. WeFit claims around 500 paid members and 150 studio partners in Hanoi. The startup receives higher acknowledgement when they manage to win the Potential Startup Award in the 2016 Startup Festival held in Hanoi in December last year.


Southeast Asia is undeniably the market most suited for startups with its accelerated development nature. As research published by TechInAsia indicates that Digital Growth in Southeast Asia, including Internet Users, Active Social Media, and Active Mobile Social Users are growing over 30% every year, which is pretty impressive with much more potential to growth, as the Digital Market Penetration still remains at an average of 50% only. Thus, this is the now is the most ideal for startups to emerge and develop in Southeast Asia.

Teong Jing About the author