Ula aims to support small retailers address their sourcing and working capital needs
Jakarta-based small retail marketplace app Ula has raised $10.5 million in seed funding from several institutional and angel investors, the startup announced in a statement on June 10.
Sequoia India and Lightspeed India led the round, with participation from SMDV, Quona Capital, Saison Capital and Alter Global, it added in the statement.
Northstar Co-Founder and Managing Partner Patrick Walujo, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Koinworks Willy Afrin, Udaan Co-Founders Sujeet Kumar, Vaibhav Gupta and Amod Malviya, GoJek Head of International Rohan Monga, and Managing Partner at DST Global Rahul Mehta, also pitched in, the statement noted.
Ula equips small store owners in emerging economies with tech-enabled retail options. It functions as a ‘multi-category wholesale e-commerce marketplace’ for small retailers by combining retail tech with lean micro-retail cost structures.
“A typical store has an 8-10% cost advantage over modern retailers given that they are usually tax exempt, employ their own family and operate out of their homes. Yet they aren’t competitive for lack of access to best sourcing and limited and expensive working capital,” Co-Founder of Ula Derry Sakti said in the statement.
Ula’s approach makes products, delivery, and pay-later options available to small retailers, enabling inventory management and flexible payment, the statement said. Ula also provides data science-backed working capital credit to retailers, it added.
The B2B company currently focuses on supplying fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and consumer staples via its platform, the statement noted.
“70-80% of the retailers in emerging markets like Indonesia are plagued by inefficiencies in supply chain, inventory and working capital management,” Managing Director at Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore Abheek Anand said in the statement.
Indonesian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly adopting technology, creating an opportunity for platforms such as Ula that provide “an easy, affordable and scalable solution to help these retailers streamline their businesses,” he continued.
Launched in January this year, the company already has teams in Indonesia, India and Singapore, and is currently expanding its tech team in these countries, in addition to several other Indonesia-based operations teams, the statement said.
It added that Ula, which is currently in the private beta stage, has recorded a 10x increase in business volume since its launch about six months ago, with a growth in purchases in May due to Covid-19.
Further, the company has plans to expand its geography, across the Java island where it is currently functioning, and its product categories, according to the statement.
“Our collective vision is to revolutionize [SME] trade using technology, helping increase their efficiency and providing them with tools to conduct their business seamlessly and more profitably” Co-Founder of Ula Riky Tenggara said in the statement.
Along with Sakti and Tenggara, Ula’s founding team includes Nipun Mehra and Alan Wong. Both Tenggara and Wong have founded previous companies, and the four founders have several years of experience in the FMCG, online retail segment, as well as in venture capital investing, between them.
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