The growth of the startup culture in South East Asia has been spearheaded by India with its 25 new unicorns, but the rest of the world is catching up as well. This time, it is Bangladesh’s largest B2B commerce platform ShopUp which has raised $75 million in its Series B funding round led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures.
The funding round, which happens to be the largest for B2B commerce firms in the South Asian market and Valar and Prosus’ maiden investments in Bangladeshi start-ups, included participation from Prosus Ventures as well as existing investors Flourish Ventures, Sequoia Capital India, and VEON Ventures. With this, ShopUp’s valuation comes to over $100 million.
This comes ten months after the start-up had raised $22.5 million in its series A funding round, and resulted in the increase of ShopUp’s ESOP pool by three times.
The five-year-old ShopUp, founded by Afeef Zaman, Ataur R Chowdhury, Siffat Sarwar, and Voonik’s Navaneetha Krishnan J, has plans to digitize the fragmented retail market and solve issues across supplies, lending, and logistics. It is known to connect small retailers and shop owners to source goods from large manufacturers and distributors through its main platform, Mokam. The start-up has also joined forces with the country’s largest manufacturers, producers, and distributors to secure and supply inventories to small shops.
According to the start-up, the proceeds from the funding round will be utilized towards expansion across the country and doubling its team in Bengaluru. Currently, it has around 100 people in Bengaluru. The start-up has clocked a growth of over 13 times in revenue and 11 times in the number of total shipments over the past twelve months.
When you consider the fact that the fragmented Bangladeshi retail market records 98% of all retail consumption happening through its 4.5 million small neighborhood mom and pop retail shops spread out across the country, you understand the need to digitize the sector, especially since a majority does not have any digital presence at all. ShopUp is aiming to address the numerous challenges faced by these small retailers, like not having access to a large catalog for inventory selection and inability to negotiate good pricing and faster delivery, as well as depending upon credit and not cash or online payments. Unavailability of products, lack of price transparency, and unreliable delivery are some of the other problems they face.
ShopUp has made it its mission to tackle these problems, and as it has expanded its offerings and deepened its presence in the country, it has launched B2B commerce app Mokam (to aid mom and pop shops gain access to the largest catalog of products with 24-hour doorstep delivery), end-to-end logistics platform REDX (the largest third-party last-mile service provider in the country), and BNPL offering for small retailers Baki.
“Our mission is to put 4.5 million small retailers in the driving seat of Bangladesh’s economic growth. We are building best-in-class infrastructure to support retail operations all over the country, adding new categories to serve the underserved small retailers and launching new financial products to meet the unarticulated needs of the retailers we serve,” said Afeef Zaman, CEO, and co-founder of ShopUp.