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Updated: Indonesia Startup Review: 6 Most Important Archipelago Startup News In 2016

Updated: Indonesia Startup Review: 6 Most Important Archipelago Startup News In 2016

Indonesia’s startup ecosystem went through a roller coaster this year, with radical developments in the space of technology and evolving consumption patterns in its rising middle class. It would suffice to say that the economy of Indonesia is on the verge of a digital revolution, with startups changing the face of the island nation’s business trends and fostering change in almost every sphere, be it transportation, shopping, or education. Here’s looking back at the biggest developments that took place in the country this year:

Indonesia’s First Unicorn: Go-Jek

2016 was GoJek’s year. It introduced new hyperlocal services, made million dollar acquisitions, expanded its operations in various cities and it accomplished what had never been done before: became Indonesia’s first unicorn, with $550 Mn funding in its basket.


After its recent $550 Mn fundraise, at $1.3 Bn valuation, Indonesia’s ride-hailing and on-demand services startup Go-Jek has officially become a unicorn. In February 2016, it acquired Indian tech muscle in the form of two startups: C42 Engineering and CodeIgnition. Then in September 2016, it acquired Bengaluru-based on-demand healthcare marketplace Pianta for an undisclosed amount. Following that, in November 2016, it acquired Pune-based mobile application developer, Leftshift.

Go-Jek is a platform, it is not a single product. What the unicorn is transforming into is a product where you can do the majority of your daily activities via its digital platform. So whether it is travel or food, prepaid, or money, or paying bills, you can effectively live your life within the Go-Jek ecosystem in Indonesia.  What’s more impressive is that Go-Jek needed only one and a half years from launching its mobile application to becoming a force to be reckoned with.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-2-36-38-pmLippo Group’s Remarkable Ascend

With the upcoming boost in the digital sector of Indonesia, the country saw a rise in investments and ecommerce emerged as the clear winner. With ventures like Hijup, Orami leading the way, the country embraced the new way to shop wholeheartedly. But the highlight of the year was Lippo Group’s launch of its B2B ecommerce platform, Mbiz.

The platform aims to provide integrated, web-based, e-procurement solution for corporations and other government institutions. The portal offers product catalogues from different. vendors and industries, spanning across IT products, stationeries, industrial equipment, and groceries, among others. It is currently functioning in the beta mode and has been accessible to the public since February 2016.

Lippo Group’s flagship venture, Matahari Mall raised $100 Mn in an equity round of funding led by Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. The round also saw participation from undisclosed new and existing investors. Lippo Group also made an investment to Southeast Asian cab-aggregator Grab.

baca-logo-750x417Baca’s $20 Mn Fundraise

Baca made headlines this year, after raising $20 Mn in funding in a Series B round led by Bertelsmann Asia Investment Fund. Chenchao Zhuang and Crystal Stream Capital also participated in the round. Baca is a news reader app for Indonesia. It claims to have 1 Mn daily active users in Indonesia. Each day the app collects between 20,000 to 25,000 articles from 500 publications. Baca analyses which news gets read by the app users, and serves them content based on those preferences.

The year went south for Baca when DailySocial wrote about the use pornographic elements in the startup’s advertisements. As per an official statement, Google ended up taking down Baca’s app from the Play Store, and following that, the startup had also apologised for the controversy.

tokoTokopedia Steals All The Money

Tokopedia is another Indonesian startup that emerged as a money magnet this year.  In April 2016, it secured $147 Mn in Series E from undisclosed investors. It is Indonesia’s C2C marketplace and is claimed to be Indonesia’s fastest growing ecommerce marketplace. It connects consumers with small retailers and individual sellers and acts as an intermediary platform for their transactions to facilitate.

lazadaLazada + Alibaba: What Does The Future Hold

 Alibaba entered Southeast Asia, in what can be said as the biggest news for Indonesia in 2016, with the acquisition of Lazada. After the deal fell into place, the ecommerce world of Indonesia is expected to begin a journey like never before, after the Chinese ecommerce giant’s entry into the country.

As the new country CEO duo Florian Holm and Duri Granziol who are in charge of leading Lazada Indonesia under Alibaba’s king, Jack Ma begin their operations in Lazada’s biggest shopping base, the entire world is waiting to see the magic this powerful union will bring to the archipelago’s economy.

Traditional V/S New: Ride Hailing Apps Emerge As The Winners

Just like in India, Indonesia also experienced a continous struggle between the taxi industry and the digital cab hailing platforms such as Uber and Grab.  In March, taxi drivers started protesting against the newly entered technology driven ventures who were responsible for disrupting their business.

As the year progressed, taxi companies, after a diligent struggle realised that they could not win the battle against technology. In May, Indonesia’s popular taxi company Blue Bird announced a partnership with the ride-hailing startup Go-Jek. Earlier in December 2016, another Indonesia based taxi company, Express announced a partnership with Uber.

So there it is. The biggest, juiciest startup developments of 2016. What will 2017 bring? We can’t wait to uncover. So, you don’t have to.

Updated On January 3, 2017 9PM [An earlier version of this article originally appeared on TechinAsia and]