- Aims to reach 3.5 million SMEs in Malaysia that have yet to leverage on e-commerce
- Integrated platform allows SMEs to manage multiple sales channels, orders within single dashboard
AVANA, a social commerce platform, has received US$1 million (RM3.9 million) in a pre-Series A funding round led by Gobi Partners. Other investors include TH Capital and existing investor Cradle Seed Ventures (CSV).
Founded in 2016 by Luqman Adris and Soh Yien Yee, Avana is essentially an e-commerce technology enabler that targets the micro, small and medium enterprise (SME) market in Southeast Asia (SEA) to onboard sellers who wish to penetrate the e-commerce space. Their regional partners include POS Malaysia, MYNIC, and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) in Malaysia; POS Indonesia, JNE, and several others in Indonesia.
Avana plans to use the funding to reach out to the 70% or 3.5 million SMEs in Malaysia that have yet to penetrate the e-commerce market. Simultaneously, it will continue to work on enhancing its platform to provide more sales channels integration, thus enabling them to target a broader pool of SMEs across SEA. They have also recently expanded into Indonesia, with a soft launch in Oct 2017.
“We have helped many clients who were new to e-commerce, but who were receiving orders by the hundreds each day,” says CEO and co-founder Luqman Adris. “Anyone can set up a social media presence to start marketing online, but whether a business will stay ‘small time’ or whether it can be scaled to a profitable business depends on its ability to deliver a consistent level of quality and service,” he explains.
Luqman uses the example of a client who previously had to spend a lot of time tracking orders in a book. With the automation of their transactions from social channels, invoicing and inventory keeping, they are now able to focus on their product quality, customer service and marketing. “In order to help them solve these issues and scale their business, we created Avana, a fully integrated platform that allows SMEs to manage multiple sales channels, inventory, and orders within a single centralised dashboard.”
Avana brings sophistication to SMEs by providing them business intelligence to help make better business decisions; it’s user-friendly, and users don’t need any technical skills to start using it.
Speaking on the investment, Gobi’s founding partner, Thomas G. Tsao said, “Social e-commerce is taking off in SEA, counting for 30% of digital sales in SEA. The region’s young population, speedy smartphone and social network adoption is driving this growth. Asean is well positioned for social e-commerce, and Avana’s all-in-one platform, as well as their focus on smaller, SME businesses, is sure to position them as a key player in this fast-growing market.”
In addition to the rise of e-commerce in the region, there has also been strong support shown for SMEs by SEA governments. For instance, the Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), is currently governed by the ten-year Asean Strategic Plan for SME Development, which serves to strengthen SMEs and microenterprises engagement and assist them with their growth and development.
Key goals under this plan, such as initiatives to promote technology and innovation, enhance market access and internationalisation, as well as promote entrepreneurship and human capital development among SMEs, is sure to boost Avana’s own progress, and their plans to expand across SEA.
Meanwhile, Avana’s co-founder, Yien Yee, has also been recently selected to be a part of Alibaba’s eFounders Fellowship Program. Co-spearheaded by Alibaba Business School and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the two-week intensive course, which takes place at Alibaba’s global headquarters in Hangzhou, offers capacity-building on all things e-commerce, from inventory management and rural commerce to logistics and mobile payment systems, as well as how to use data to best capture consumer preferences.