January 31, 2024

Antler Leads $5.1M Pre-Seed Funding for 37 Startups in SEA; Targets Investments in Verticalized AI and Industry 4.0

  • This marks the highest number of pre-seed deals in a single round in the region
  • Antler sees increased investment opportunities in Verticalized AI and Industry 4.0 
  • Antler makes their first investment into Malaysia with seven startups, as part of its partnership with sovereign wealth fund Khazanah
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Antler

The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

Singapore - Wednesday, January 31, 2024 - Antler, the global early-stage venture capital firm based in Singapore, today announced its largest pre-seed investment round to date, committing $5.1 million to 37 startups across Southeast Asia, including XX. This round also marks the highest number of pre-seed deals completed in a single round in the region, demonstrating Antler’s commitment to backing the next generation of SEA tech entrepreneurs.

The diverse portfolio of startups spans 19 sectors ranging from AI and B2B SaaS to fintech and healthcare to address specific regional challenges. The investment also marks Antler’s initial commitment and footprint in Malaysia, as part of its strategic partnership with sovereign wealth fund Khazanah. 

Jussi Salovaara, Co-founder and Managing Partner Asia of Antler said, “As a multi-stage investor, we recognize the immense potential of early-stage startups in Southeast Asia. In this dynamic and challenging climate, we are especially drawn to pre-seed investments, particularly in verticalized AI and industry 4.0 startups that address deep-seated pain points and revolutionize the way models and data translate into tangible products. At this pivotal moment, we are laser-focused on helping founders establish a robust foundation for sustainable business models and fostering long-term innovation within the broader global tech ecosystem.”

Antler's position as the earliest backer of startups uniquely enables them to both identify and drive emerging tech trends. Their investments in this round underscore conviction in the following trends:

  1. Shift to verticalized AI - A second wave of AI startups is expected in 2024 as AI continues to mature and solutions are being tailored to specific industries. We will see a greater shift towards building durable businesses in verticalized AI, notably in media, customer lifecycle management, and LLM integration. 34% of startups in this round are in verticalized AI, including:some text
    • ReelBlend: Marketplace for virtual product placement, utilizing AI and Computer Vision to facilitate accurate ad insertions in various media.
    • EigenAI: No-code AI/ML platform specializing in analyzing customer behavior and building comprehensive Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) models.
    • RapidaAI: LLM router and prompt engineering platform for businesses to experiment, test and deploy LLM powered applications at speed.
    • Emereg: AI-first platform focused on risk management automation specifically tailored for the fintech sector.
    • CapGo: Platform to deploy AI agents for fast and autonomous data acquisition, specifically tailored for market research.
    • Buildas: Human-assisted AI platform that aids businesses in planning, customizing, and maintaining software without requiring extensive technical expertise.
    • Lunash: AI-driven solution to improve debt collection performance across all stages from pre-delinquency to recovery. 
    • ZOLO: AI-powered assistant for food suppliers to streamline order management details and convert from messaging platforms to back office systems.
    • SmartViz: Provides AI-powered modules for automated visual inspection in manufacturing, aiming to eliminate defects and enhance production efficiency.
    • Levit8: HR analytics platform that uses data to track employee experiences and detect early signs of potential churn.
    • PingMi: AI co-pilot and product management platform designed to expedite the development and launch of revenue-driving ideas.
    • Cleve: AI-powered tool that assists creators and thought leaders to scale their online presence by generating personalized content optimized for different platforms.

  1. Rise of Industry 4.0 in SEA - While Industry 3.0 was initially driven by the manufacturing sector, its technologies now have the transformative potential to drive all industry verticals. Its core principles of interconnectedness, data-driven decision-making, and automation are increasingly being applied to traditionally non-digital sectors including construction, transportation, and healthcare. 34% of the startups invested are in Industry 4.0, including:some text
    • COEX: A platform designed to maximize capital and operational efficiency in the construction industry, digitalizing project claims and bills of quantity management.
    • Dash Electric: Sustainable logistics for B2B clients, offering rental electric vehicles to build Indonesia's largest EV fleet for on-demand delivery services.
    • glorious: A Care Operations Platform for care suppliers, aiming to digitize operations and improve care work with innovative workforce tools.
    • OmiConvo: A comprehensive omnichannel business suite that integrates various messaging channels with backend services, enhancing social commerce management for traditional business owners.
    • AssetFindr: An end-to-end asset maintenance management ecosystem for real-time insights, advanced risk management, and data-driven decision-making.
    • UniiD: Smart access solutions for buildings and cities, transforming the way entry and security are managed through a mobile-based platform.
    • Konstruksi.ai: SaaS solution for construction companies and contractors to systemize document workflow and real-time quality inspection.
    • XFLO: A B2B SaaS solution to increase business productivity via hyper-automated workflow engine.
    • Barely Skin: Provides accessible dermatology-level personalized skin treatment, offering online consultations and bespoke skincare products.
    • Ternakin: IoT solutions for fish farmers to increase productivity by optimizing pond utilization and streamlining the procurement of supplies.
    • Seafoody: A seafood supply chain enabler for direct sourcing to businesses.
    • YOBO: Sales CRM and sales automation solution that pinpoints high-value customers.

  1. SEA startups building hyperlocal solutions with global scalability - With the global digital economy expected to reach $17.5 trillion by 2025, a new wave of startups is emerging that are developing products that cater to hyperlocal needs in Southeast Asia while maintaining the potential for global expansion. Opportunities have been identified in the fields of fintech, communications, business operations, and more. Solutions that address specific local pain points while incorporating scalable technologies for a global audience are being developed. These include:some text
    • BorderDollar: Provides accessible cross-border trade finance for SMEs, offering invoice financing as an alternative asset class to private investors.
    • Mailpass: Offers a device-based login manager, creating unique, anonymous email addresses for users per service to enhance online safety and privacy.
    • flaex: A decentralized margin trading exchange leveraging the liquidity of lending protocols to offer competitive rates for traders.
    • Hybr1d: End-to-end IT management platform for businesses to automate and streamline workforce processes.
    • Naki: A platform enabling Generation Z to create AI friends tailored to their needs and personalities, offering a unique, personalized interaction experience.
    • Spun: Permit creation and management platform for non-leisure travelers, utilizing AI and automation to simplify and accelerate the permit process for professional opportunities globally.
    • MessengerCo: A one-stop corporate gifting platform to optimize B2B gifting with a global distribution solution.
    • Zappy: Provides unified and affordable business communication tools, integrating various work conversations into one unified inbox.
    • Upbrand: A D2C brand and e-commerce enabler for local fashion manufacturers, to transition into global brands with cutting-edge services and market intelligence.
    • Just Ping: An omnichannel conversational recruitment tool leveraging mobile-first experiences for social hiring, integrating with various messaging and social media platforms.
    • Finna: An end-to-end platform for solopreneurs, simplifying the workflow from managing customers and creating proposals to processing payments.

“With the increasing awareness and adoption of predictive AI, startups in Southeast Asia now have the opportunity to embrace a new paradigm of hyper-localization and global ambition simultaneously. This approach requires founders to rethink the possibilities of products that cater to diverse local markets en masse, while also harboring the potential for seamless scalability across global platforms,” said Winnie Khoo, Partner of Antler.

“Indonesia's unique market dynamics present immense opportunities for startups, which is why we are committed to bringing together the best Indonesian talents to build great things here. We work with founders who are not just driven by capital but also the ambition to be part of a community of like-minded innovators and achievers that will make a real difference, both locally and on the global stage,” said Agung Bezharie, Partner of Antler.

“Vietnam is rapidly emerging as a hub of innovation in Southeast Asia. Antler's significant investment in the region is a strong vote of confidence in our local entrepreneurs, whose ingenuity and resilience continue to break new grounds,” said Erik Jonsson, Partner of Antler.

"As we mark our first investment round in Malaysia, we are excited by the potential we see here. The diversity and caliber of the startups speak volumes about the country's growing influence as a key player in the regional entrepreneurial landscape,” said Frank Kang, Partner of Antler.

With a record number of over 5,000 applications in this round, Antler has consistently backed over 1,000 startups across the world, since its launch in 2018. 

Here is the full list of invested companies for more details. Please contact Antler if you would like to be connected with any of the founders.

—Ends—

Antler is one of the most active early-stage investors globally.

The firm leads in ‘Day Zero’ investing, an approach to venture capital focused on partnering with founders pre-launch. Antler systematically removes capital and network constraints for early-stage technology entrepreneurs by providing co-founder matching, deep business model validation, initial capital, expansion support, and follow-on funding.

The firm is present in 30 cities across most leading technology ecosystems globally and has made over 1,000 investments into early-stage startups, with the goal of backing more than 6,000 by 2030.

Antler has been repeatedly recognized by Pitchbook as the world’s most active angel and seed-stage investor.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ryan Thoo

VP Marketing, Antler

ryan.thoo@antler.co 

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