aCommerce Lands Strategic Investment To Expand In Southeast Asia

aCommerce, the Bangkok-based e-commerce enabler that covers Southeast Asia, is closing out the year with a strategic funding deal after it announced that DKSH, a Switzerland-based market expansion firm focused on Asia, bought a 20 percent stake for an undisclosed sum.

The investment was not disclosed, but aCommerce said it is an eight-figure sum that will be used to expand its reach in Southeast Asia and pursue new business opportunities.

aCommerce was founded in June 2013, it helps retailers and brands manage a range of commerce-related services, including logistics, warehousing, online sales and more. Its rivals include SingPost, which is backed by Alibaba and has been on an acquisition spree to build out its logistics capabilities in the U.S.

aCommerce previously raised a $10.7 million Series A round in June 2014, led by the investment arm of Japan’s Docomo, and in May this year it took a $5 million injection ahead of a planned Series B. However, aCommerce Group CEO Paul Srivorakul explained that the company opted to take this strategic investment from DKSH and delay the Series B until next year.

“When we were mapping our Series B round and were ready to find financial investors, this partner came in. When we understood their potential, how big they are and how they can help, [we agreed to this investment,]” explained Srivorakul, whose previous exits include group buying company Ensogo (sold to LivingSocial) and media startup Admax (sold to Komli).

“It’s a minority stake and very strategic,” Srivorakul added of the DKSH investment. “The value they bring is massive and we’re staying independent. We’re not trying to sell [the company to DKSH] and believe we have a big lead on our competition.

“But we’re starting to see the region carve out [in terms of e-commerce]… and it’s hard to find a partner who is very similar to our product. A middleware company that is helping brands not logistics or marketplaces [which would conflict with aCommerce’s customer base]. DKSH will help expose us to cross-border and B2B opportunities.”

On paper, at least, the partnership seems to have plenty of synergy. DKSH, a 150-year-old company that is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange, is focused on helping companies expand into new markets — DKSH says 96 percent of its revenue comes from Asia — while a large chunk of aCommerce’s business is helping brands take their sales and business online.

Srivorakul said that the deal will help aCommerce expand its presence in Southeast Asia into Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. DKSH, which was already a commercial partner for the company, will allow it to make use of its warehouse space, line-haul trucks, and other physical assets to give it a running start.

Srivorakul, the aCommerce co-founder, added that this deal is most definitely not a sign of a potential exit.

“It isn’t really in [DKSH’s] benefit to acquire us, they want that hungry startup to go public. We feel like we have a market lead… I feel like you want to sell when you’re number two or three and getting your ass kicked. Plus, as a serial entrepreneur, I don’t want to sell early,” he said.

“We fundamentally believe that tech will make everything more efficient, we want to build a platform for that. For every e-commerce transaction, we want to be clipping the ticket,” he added of aCommerce’s longterm goal.

Right now, aCommerce has over 150 clients, and Srivorakul said it is likely to spend the next two quarters onboarding new business that the DKSH partnership has sent its way. Interestingly, the aCommerce business is beginning to break even in Indonesia and Thailand — its two largest markets — while overall revenue grew 150 percent in Q4 of this year alone, Srivorakul told TechCrunch.