It’s been a tough few years for the Malaysian startup scene, but there are many entrepreneurs who’ve managed to pull their business through them.
Among them, some went on to pursue global expansion, and others caught the eye of investors, winning them over and resulting in funding rounds to the tune of millions of dollars.
In the past one year specifically, what are some of the names who earned investor confidence? We looked back in time, and came up with this non-exhaustive list of Malaysian companies who have raised more than US$1 million in the past year, arranged chronologically.
PolicyStreet, an insurtech (insurance technology) startup, raised US$6 million (RM25 million) with its Series A fundraising round in September 2021.
According to its website, PolicyStreet aims to “democratise insurance” and break down complex insurance policies for consumers.
The funds were raised by Altara Ventures, Auspac Investment Management, Gobi Partners, and the Leong family of Mah Sing Group.
With the funds, the insurtech company aimed to expand into new markets in the regions and further grow its technological capabilities.
In an October 2021 seed funding round, Malaysian agritech drone solutions provider Aonic (known as Poladrone at the time) was reported to have raised US$4.29 million (RM18 million).
The round was led by Wavemaker Partners and included other investors such as the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).
In an interview with Vulcan Post, the startup’s founder, Cheong Jin Xi (JX), said one of the main drivers for the fundraising was to scale the company’s operations “to bring the benefits offered by our technology to more people, faster”.
JX also said the company would first focus on strengthening its market presence and offerings in Malaysia.
This aligns with Aonic’s retail vertical launched in July 2022 alongside its rebrand. The new vertical will let customers buy drones and spare parts directly from Aonic’s website or brick-and-mortar locations.
Recommend Group, a home services social recommendation platform, raised US$4 million (around RM16 million) in October 2021.
The group is operational in Malaysia as Recommend.my where users can search, review, and recommend service professionals for home improvement, maintenance, cleaning, and more.
The funding round was led by Shanghai-based Morning Crest Capital and was joined by existing investors including Singapore-based Brain-Too-Free Ventures.
Recommend said that the funds will be used to expand its team in Indonesia and Malaysia while improving the user experience on its customer and vendor mobile apps as well as its website.
Just a year after its launch, homegrown edutech startup ReSkills raised US$1.5 million (around RM6.2 million) in November 2021.
A registered training provider under the Human Resource Development Corporation of Malaysia (HRDC), ReSkills is an app developed to help coaches move their services online.
Led by JSF Platinum, the fundraising round would let ReSkills stabilise its expansion in the SEA region and further develop its edutech platform.
When Vulcan Post spoke to the startup in July 2022, ReSkills was gearing up to launch a new phase (ReSkills 2.0) where it aims to become a Malaysian educational super app.
Based in Malaysia, Food Market Hub is a cloud application platform that aims to bridge the gap between restaurants and suppliers. To help F&B businesses minimise waste and manage food costs as well as their inventory, the platform automates the purchasing and inventory-tracking process.
In December 2021, it bagged US$8.5 million in its extended Series A+ round, which brought its total Series A funding to US$12.5 million.
According to an article by Technode Global, the startup aimed to use the funds to further finance its expansion and expedite its plans to enter Indonesia.
In January 2022, KL-based edutech startup, Pandai, raised a total of US$2.03 million. The startup had also been the first Malaysian edutech startup to be accepted into the Y Combinator accelerator programme in Silicon Valley.
According to reporting by Digital News Asia, notable global investors include Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, 500 Global, Soma Capital, and Harvard.
On the Malaysian side, the fundraising was led by RHL Ventures, Falnas Capital, and Kembara Kapital. Pandai’s co-founder, Khairul, said the funding would be used to enhance the app.
Pandai works by letting students learn using gamified quizzes aligned to the national curriculum while providing personalised education experiences, which we explained more about in our startup feature here.
The platform currently boasts over 400,000 registered students, according to its website.
As one of Malaysia’s few unicorns and a startup whose journey we’ve been covering since the early days, Carsome barely needs an introduction.
Earlier this year, the Malaysian online used car trading platform had announced the completion of its US$290 million Series E round.
Jointly led by Qatar Investment Authority, 65 Equity Partners, and Seatown Private Capital Master Fund, the Series E round brought Carsome to a valuation of approximately US$1.7 billion.
According to a press release, Carsome planned to use the funds to “accelerate investment in people, product, technology, data capability, infrastructure, and regional expansion of its retail brand, Carsome Certified, across key markets in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand”.
Content aggregation platform Newswav raised US$1.4 (RM6 million) in its series A round. The fundraising round was led by OSK Ventures International.
According to Tech in Asia, the Malaysian news aggregator planned to mainly use the funds to acquire more users, expand creators’ platforms, and scale up inhouse adtech capabilities.
Reportedly recording over 15 million average monthly visits, Newswav is backed by BFM Capital and YYC Ventures. As a politically independent news aggregator, the platform has partnered with nearly 200 content partners including publications like our very own Vulcan Post, The Sun Daily, Malay Mail, The Edge, and more.
Another homegrown edutech startup, GuruLab, joins this list, having raised US$1 million in a seed round joined by Wright Partners in January 2022.
GuruLab, which we’ve featured before, is an online learning platform that analyses students’ performances with its collected data to then provided targeted intervention.
According to Tech in Asia, GuruLab said the new capital will be used to strengthen its analytics platform and expand its offerings within Malaysia’s education system. Currently, the platform only offers English lessons, but it also intends to expand into other subjects.
As a Software as a Service (SaaS)-enabled marketplace, Dropee aims to help businesses operate more efficiently by connecting buyers to wholesale sellers in a quicker, more transparent way.
According to Digital News Asia, the startup hopes to strengthen its foothold in Indonesia and Malaysia by “providing more value added services such as ecommerce services, on-ground activation teams, and financial support”.
Reportedly, the funding will also be used to accelerate financing offerings for wholesalers and retailers on Dropee.
IIMMPACT, a fintech startup based in Malaysia, announced in February that it received US$2 million (RM8.37 million) in seed funding from Sequoia India’s Surge—an accelerator programme for startups in Southeast Asia and India.
A turnkey solution provider, IIMMPACT helps businesses digitalise their payment services with little coding.
In an interview with Vulcan Post, co-founder Alex Tan said the funds will first be used to expand the company’s sales and tech team.
From there, the startup also wants to increase its digital products to encompass insurance, transporation, and government-related services.
12. TNG Digital
Touch ‘n Go Group’s TNG Digital, the owner and operator of Touch ‘n Go eWallet, announced in July that it had raised RM750 million from its latest round of equity funding.
The round was led by a new investment from Lazada and a follow-on investment by TNG Digital’s shareholder and parent company, Touch ‘n Go Sdn. Bhd.
According to an article by The Edge, TNG’s CEO Effendy Shahul Hamid said the collaboration will bring next-level propositions to users and merchant bases across the Lazada and Touch ‘n Go ecosystem.
13. RPG Commerce
Led by Indonesian venture capital firm East Ventures, RPG Commerce’s Series B funding was announced to have totalled US$29 million in July 2022.
RPG Commerce is a direct-to-consumer social commerce company that builds brands from the ground up. Some familiar brands housed under RPG Commerce includes Thousand Miles, Montigo, and Cosmic Cookware.
The startup stated that the funds raised will be used to future-proof the company’s technology and development processes. It will also go into developing and expanding RPG’s brand portfolio to create innovative consumer products.
Of course, being able to raise funding isn’t the only indicator that a startup is doing well, or showing potential of doing well in the near future.
Still, with what it takes to successfully close a significant funding round, the highlighted startups above have no doubt proven their grit to investors.
With Merdeka right around the corner, we thought we’d take this opportunity to wish these Malaysian startups a hearty congratulations once again on their massive funding rounds!
We look forward to seeing how else Malaysian startups will be put on the global map in the months to come.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Jes Min Lua, CEO and co-founder of Recommend Group / Eric Cheng, CEO and co-founder of Carsome / Jin Xi Cheong, CEO and founder of Aonic