Indonesia-based marketplace for small retailers, Ula recently announced that it has raised $10.5mn in a seed funding round.
The funding round was led by Sequoia India and Lightspeed India. SMDV, Saison Capital, Alter Global, and other prominent angels, including the whole founding team of Banglore headquartered B2B marketplace Udaan, were the participants.
This Jakarta based new startup operates a wholesale e-commerce marketplace to help store owners stock only the inventory they need and also grants them with working capital. The five-month-old company aims to help small retailers solve inefficiencies that they face in the supply chain, inventory, and working capital.
The company has offices in India, Singapore, and Indonesia. Ula will use the funds to enhance its technological infrastructure. The company is currently setting up tech teams in India, Singapore, and Indonesia and also hiring across roles in category management, analytics, credit as well as city leaders in Indonesia.
Derry Sakti, Co-founder of Ula said: “A grocery store might need to source inventory from up to 50 different sources (wholesalers/ distributors) every week and sometimes order in bulk to get better rates, even when they don’t need such large quantities”.
Traditional retail still accounts for the vast majority of retail sales in Asian countries. The shop owners, who are family-based, know how to run their businesses in a cost-efficient manner. But the challenge is while accessing day to day working capital and sourcing inventories.
Launched in January 2020, the company says it operates as a multi-category wholesale marketplace that aims to help small store owners access product selections, prices, and working capital to increase their incomes.
“As more small and medium-sized enterprises in Indonesia begin to adopt technology, platforms such as Ula could help them streamline their businesses. Ula has a highly experienced team bringing together the right mix of experience in local and global e-commerce, retail and fintech markets and we are excited to be early partners in this journey,” said Abheek Anand, Sequoia Capital MD.
Ula’s current focus is on daily needs consumer goods (such as FMCG and Staples), and is currently in private beta and predominantly servicing East Java. Over the next year, it plans to expand across the Java island and expand across categories such as apparel and electronics.
“For us, the true measure of Ula’s success will be in how much we can improve our customers’ lives and businesses. Our collective vision is to revolutionize SMB trade using technology, helping increase their efficiency and providing them with tools to conduct their business seamlessly and more profitably,” said Riky Tenggara, co-founder of Ula.
The business has grown 10 times since launch, with several customers returning to buy more and more. Stores have purchased more in May during the ongoing COVID crises than they did earlier this year, the startup claimed, without disclosing its exact figures.
Ula was founded by Nipun Mehra, Alan Wong, Derry Sakti and Riky Tenggara in January this year.
Tenggara was part of the early team at e-commerce giant Lazada, while Sakti was working with P&G’s operations in Indonesia. Ula’s other co-founders Nipun Mehra, who helped build businesses and categories at Amazon and Flipkart and was part of the leadership team Pine Labs, the Indian payments firm; and Alan Wong, who helped build distributed systems in the supply chain management, search and catalog at Amazon.