Why We Invested: Harshet Lunani and Tommy Martin, the dual-core behind Qoala

Sophie Chiu, Principal (邱敬媛 / 協理)

Sophie is a Principal leading the Southeast Asia Arm, that is responsible for meeting, helping and investing in great founders in the region. She joined AppWorks as an Associate in 2020 and was subsequently promoted as a Principal in 2023. Prior to AppWorks, Sophie had 10 years of public equity experience. She was part of the portfolio management team at Neuberger Berman, focusing on emerging market opportunities. Prior to that she served as a research analyst at Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, and London-based Autonomous Research. Sophie holds a Master of Finance with distinction from Warwick Business School and BS Finance from National Taiwan University. Her passion and expertise, however, extend far beyond just researching companies and industries. She is also an author of two published poetry books and holds a keen interest in human psychology and human behavior.

Qoala is an InsurTech company that has experienced remarkable growth, now boasting a presence across three Southeast Asian markets: Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Harshet Lunani and Tommy Martin, Qoala’s co-founders, possess strong insights and a deep understanding of the pain points found throughout the insurance industry value chain. Although this industry seems mature and proven in developed markets, its complexity and strict regulation have made it challenging for technology adoption. Meanwhile, the correlation between insurance penetration and economic growth is not guaranteed, which presents an inherent risk. However, it is precisely this challenging path that attracts committed and insightful founders like Harshet and Tommy. Their dedication to making a difference is a key reason why we are placing faith in them and Qoala to continue growing and transforming the insurance landscape in Southeast Asia.  

Dedicated builders driven by ambition and unwavering vision

For some people, life is full of hero’s journeys. They will always end up on a challenging path. At first, it may seem to be deemed by fate. Eventually, it becomes a deliberate choice as a less traveled or seemingly impossible path usually bestows the richest life experiences and most fruitful outcome or even profoundly impacts the world. This is what Harshet has been through and shaped his experience as a founder. 

Hailing from a small town in India without much privilege, Harshet learned the lesson of survival from a young age. He left home to study in a (non-privileged) boarding school from age 8 to 17, where he became ‘battle-tested’: rigorous daily routines, necessary social skills to survive among teenagers living 24/7 together, being a top player in cricket, and remarkable academic performance. His grit and determination eventually secured him a sponsored master’s degree in math at University of Oxford and job offer in London, working at Merrill Lynch and then Lehman Brothers. However, Harshet joined these two banks during the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-2008. So, he soon witnessed how a seemingly large and impregnable financial institution could collapse overnight, and how it had an impact on so many individuals losing their life savings. This seeded a deep-down entrepreneurial desire for Harshet to build something that could make the world a more secure place. After working in finance, Harshet joined BCG and later Endeavor, where he gained access to large corporations and startups to learn about business models and entrepreneurship. When he had the chance to help BIMA, an InsurTech startup from Ghana, launch in Indonesia, Harshet immediately jumped on the opportunity. 

As the General Manager of BIMA for four years, he set up the entire business from scratch, growing the business to US$1.5M scale with 80 employees in Indonesia. Unlike when he started his career in finance, this time, Harshet experienced the storm face-first. Smartphones were experiencing massive penetration in Indonesia and Gojek had just reached unicorn status. Harshet foresaw the inevitable dead-end of BIMA’s business model based on selling insurance products from phone balances. Unable to convince the Ghana headquarters, Harshet remained resolute to continue his journey on InsurTech but instead building something on his own. This is a field where he built tremendous expertise and track record, and recognized the potential to create significant value for stakeholders and individuals alike, resonating with the vision of the world he wanted to build. However he knew he had to take the lead role in creating such a business, and ultimately left to launch Qoala in 2018.

Before Qoala, there was actually a first attempt that fell short called Kelola. Undeterred, he met with Tommy Martin, the investor behind Kelola, who has a strong background in fintech. Tommy’s experience as an engineer at Nokia, business consultant at Accenture and EY, and product and marketing lead at Traveloka offered a holistic perspective that complemented Harshet’s skills. They quickly found that they had great compatibility and set sail to start Qoala together. Tommy’s expertise in product development and business strategy has been crucial in enabling Qoala to build products that cater to the intertwined interests of all users and stakeholders in the industry. Tommy, like Harshet, had witnessed the transformative power of a successful business firsthand through his parents, who turned their family’s fortunes around through entrepreneurship. So that Tommy could be the first generation in his family to live a comfortable life and even study abroad. However, watching his parents conquer their life ambitions helped Tommy form a deep-down desire to build something on his own too. Tapping into his entrepreneurial DNA, Tommy felt compelled to take an 80% pay cut and go against his parents’ wishes by returning to Indonesia. This unwavering determination serves as his guiding light, and he is committed to building a business that can change people’s lives and create his own path. 

Strategic approach to innovation and staying ahead of the curve

The partnership between Harshet and Tommy has proven to be a powerful combination. Harshet’s experience building BIMA allowed him to identify the tremendous potential of the next paradigm shift, while Tommy’s insights into major digital platforms enabled Qoala to establish its initial product-market fit through a collaboration with Traveloka. This success was no mere coincidence; the duo had devised a methodical roadmap for expanding Qoala’s presence within the existing value chain. They first targeted areas with high traffic and data concentration, which allowed Qoala to develop unique products. With these products in hand, they focused on building critical distribution channels, eventually becoming vital partners for insurers. This entire process has been tech-enabled, and as the momentum grew, Qoala expanded into Thailand, a larger market essential for a VC-backed company’s growth.

Today, the rest is history. Qoala achieved fourfold growth in gross written premium over the past two years, with a primary footprint spanning three markets. However, the ambitious founders show no signs of stopping. They are now exploring an additional step in the growth flywheel by testing direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels with the data and know-how accumulated over the past four years. Although still in early stages, Qoala possesses all the necessary elements to capture the market quickly as consumers become more mature and educated. It is hard not to be inspired by visionary founders who always stay ahead of the curve. 

SEA a nascent landscape for InsurTech to make their mark

While advanced APAC countries boast an average insurance penetration rate of 9%, Southeast Asia’s figures have remained relatively low at 1-3% for Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In comparison, India demonstrates a higher penetration rate of 4-5%, despite having a lower Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. While the mandatory auto insurance requirement in India is one primary driver of adoption, there’s also an intrinsic hidden risk: The correlation between insurance penetration and economic growth is not guaranteed. Or we should say, the correlation depends on many external factors such as money supply and stock market capitalization as demonstrated by several academic studies (Chang et al., 2012, Pradhan et al., 2016, Dash et al., 2018).

The insurance sector is a tough space. A green field like Southeast Asia has huge uncertainties, while mature markets have left limited room for startups to disrupt. In high penetration countries such as the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Africa, market structures are relatively unshakeable due to stringent regulations and high barriers to entry. Drawing from our experience in Taiwan, we have observed that most digital players face challenges in scaling their businesses. For consumer-focused ideas, the market size often has an actually lower ceiling than expected, limiting growth potential. Meanwhile, enterprise-focused initiatives struggle to expand as enterprise customers possess substantial bargaining power and resources, which enable customers to implement digital solutions independently.

That silver-lining is the digital-native mindset of Southeast Asia. From Qoala, we’ve seen that insurance companies in the region are increasingly open to collaborating with digital solutions, while digital platforms (such as Shopee, Traveloka, Tiki, etc.) are motivated to monetize their traffic through financial products. Additionally, individual consumers in the region have also embraced digital technologies, making them more receptive to innovative insurance offerings. 

AppWorks is here to support great entrepreneurs in the region

Success in this market requires visionary founders with a deep care for users across the entire value chain. Harshet and Tommy, the founders of Qoala, have demonstrated this through their exponential growth. Their methodical approach, combined with their complementary founder qualities resulted in amazing growth traction and market expansion. Most importantly, they are both ambitious and driven by their ultimate north star. As a firm believer in supporting great entrepreneurs, AppWorks is proud to back Harshet, Tommy, and the Qoala team, and we look forward to contributing to their journey with our ecosystem of 400 active startups and over 1,400 likeminded founders.

If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI and web3, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.

Why We Invested: TeleportDAO – the Cross-chain Musketeers

Jack An, Associate (安良方 / 投資經理)

Jack became an Associate in 2023 and focuses on meeting, helping and investing in promising web3 founders. Before joining AppWorks in 2019 as an Analyst, he co-founded an InsurTech startup and through the experience, he developed a deep interest in product design and user experience, and has since been passionate about these areas. During his time as a founder, he purchased his first BTC as well as ETH, yet subsequently paid dear tuition to the 2017 go-go ICO era. Prior to embarking on the entrepreneurial path, he worked as an underwriter at Chubb Insurance in New Zealand. Jack earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Waikato University, where he studied classical piano and developed a deep appreciation for Mozart. He loves to cook, read, and is a practicing stoic. He’s on the hunt for the next web3 application that will onboard millions of users and make the world more open, permissionless, censorship-resistant, and trustless.

The blockchain industry is rapidly expanding, and new theories on how to build blockchains arise virtually every day. These ideas frequently cross-pollinate, resulting in new competition that benefits the sector as a whole. As a result, a multi-chain environment has emerged, necessitating the use of cross-chain solutions to mitigate excessive fragmentation.

Layer 1 blockchains share fundamental characteristics such as record decentralization and the capacity to securely reach consensus on those records. Nevertheless, the underlying technology used to accomplish this differs greatly, making it difficult for users and apps built on top of different chains to efficiently communicate and connect with one another. 

Many have attempted to cut corners in order to reap short-term benefits by developing primarily notary-based cross-chain solutions. This approach, however, has proven to be an exceedingly costly problem for the industry as they suffer from a single point of failure. The sector lost US$1.3 billion in cross-chain hacks in 2022 alone. As a result, it is essential to invest in proper cross-chain bridges that can maintain security and prevent catastrophic losses.

That is why we are delighted to support TeleportDAO creators Niusha Moshrefi, Mahyar Daneshpajooh, and Ali Saheli. Who are dedicated to constructing a decentralized, trustless, and lightweight cross-chain bridge that is capable of truly facilitating the next generation of multichain applications. 

From blockchain labs to building a cross-chain bridge

Niusha and Mahyar, the co-founders of TeleportDAO, have been fascinated by blockchain technology since their undergraduate days. They both studied electrical engineering at Iran’s leading institution, Sharif University of Technology, and participated in the university’s blockchain labs. Niusha was particularly interested in decentralized systems because they can provide more transparency in decision making and direct control back to system participants. The majority of Niusha’s academic work focused on light clients for Proof of Work blockchains.

Mahyar has also been immersed in blockchain development, having contributed to the creation of CarChain, a decentralized carpooling protocol that sought to lessen the footprint that platforms have in carpooling. Ali, the third co-founder, is a serial entrepreneur who established Foro Technologies in 2013 before selling it to Fundamental Applications Corp. The trio joined together with the purpose of creating a decentralized and safe cross-chain bridge, and left their former roles to focus solely on TeleportDAO.

Although they have their work cut out for them, the founders are determined to seize the opportunity presented by the blockchain industry’s growth and build a successful cross-chain solution. With their combined knowledge and experience, the team is well-poised to navigate challenges ahead and realize their vision. 

The future of multichain is trustless

TeleportDAO allows participants to move data between different blockchains in a secure and decentralized manner. Teleporter nodes collect user requests from the source chain and offer proof on the target chain to do this. The request is fulfilled after the proof is validated by the smart contract on the target chain. The system is completely decentralized, and anyone can become a node. Furthermore, the underlying cost of sending requests discourages bad actors from making invalid requests because they would not earn a reward to pay their costs. This enables the system to function as long as there is one honest Teleporter.

Currently, cross-chain is largely used for asset swaps. Yet, more crucially, the future of multichain is to enable apps to connect with one another in an efficient and secure manner. This is where TeleportDAO comes into play. Their solution is a lightweight and trustless approach that can accommodate the complexity of blockchain interoperability by leveraging Teleporters.

As more money is invested in various chains and more dApps are created specifically for each ecosystem, the necessity for a decentralized and trustless bridge will grow. TeleportDAO will seek to bridge liquidity into new ecosystems before expanding to bridge applications to provide customers with the best multichain experience possible.

Interoperability made easy

We are excited to be supporting Niusha, Mahyar, and Ali as they launch next-generation cross-chain bridges with TeleportDAO. In the high-value and fast-moving cryptocurrency market, having a secure-by-designed underlying infrastructure is critical to avoiding potential asset loss. We are certain that TeleportDAO will make an important contribution to the development of a free, open, trustless and permissionless multichain future.

At AppWorks, we search for talented founders who want to make a huge difference in their respective verticals. We are thrilled to work with Niusha, Mahyar, and Ali as they continue to push the boundaries of decentralized cross-chain bridges and the fast evolving web3 landscape.

If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with web3 and AI / IoT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.


WeMo Raises Series A+ Round to Accelerate Southeast Asia Expansion, Led by AppWorks

WeMo CEO – Davidd Liu 劉于遜 (Left), WeMo Co-Founder & Vice Chairman – Jeffrey Wu 吳昕霈 (Right)

Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to back WeMo Scooter, a pioneer in urban mobility technologies. With its proven track record in smart transportation and fleet management, WeMo is working with partners in Southeast Asia and around the world to realize net zero carbon emission transportation. The press release from WeMo is below:

(漢文在下) WeMo Corp, a pioneer in urban mobility technologies, announced the completion of a Series A+ round led by AppWorks, with participation from Taiwan National Development Fund.

With its mission to reduce dependency on privately-owned vehicles and decrease carbon emissions, WeMo has amassed a user base of over a million members in its seven years of smart vehicle operations, and has gained a dominant position in the Taiwan market. The company has made dramatic adjustments throughout the pandemic to meet ever-changing consumer needs, and positioning itself for long-term growth, including investments in product and technology that are intended to help governments, businesses, and communities embrace more sustainable ways of transportation and living.

In 2022, WeMo launched a number of new products and services based on emerging consumer demand following Taiwan’s reopening, including: WeMo RenTour, which offers app-based rentals for electric cars, scooters, and bicycles; and WeMo PASS, offering free and discounted rides of electric scooters and other benefits on a subscription basis. Revenue has returned to pre-pandemic levels, recording double-digit growth. The company anticipates accelerated growth over the next few years, building off increasing demand for shared transportation, electrification, fleet management, and resumption of normal economic activity.

In addition to its convenient roadside rent-and-return services, WeMo offers a comprehensive Mobility-as-a-Service platform with a focus on fleet and operations management under one integrated system, which intimately aligns with global market urbanization demand and greenification trends. With WeMo’s modular, efficient, and all-in-one tool “Smart Mobility Center,” fleet operators are able to gain access to historical and real-time data, accurate forecasting, and analytics to improve fleet management. Data and module specifications can be customized to each operator’s region, vehicle type or other needs to help achieve sustainability goals and seamlessly manage vehicle fleets.

“As a pioneer of shared e-mobility in Taiwan, WeMo has gained significant momentum in the island country known to have the highest motorcycle per capita. Over the past seven years, we accumulated valuable experiences in product development, user experience design, and AI / IoT technologies. As WeMo emerges from the pandemic in a position of strength, we are excited to expand our footprint to Southeast Asia where we can help governments and businesses achieve greener transportation and effectively manage their electric fleets,” said Davidd Liu, CEO of WeMo.

With this round of financing, WeMo plans to expand its service to Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on Indonesia and Thailand. In anticipation of rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles and alternative transportation solutions, the company is building partnerships with governments, investors, businesses, and transportation providers throughout Southeast Asia to offer green transportation and fleet management services to support the region’s transition to zero emission.

“In recent years, accelerating impact of climate change and severe weather has created greater impetus to transition to net zero economic and societal models. Throughout the pandemic, the WeMo team has demonstrated amazing resilience and execution through operations excellence, product innovation and a focus on seamless consumer experiences, leading to a sound financial performance that will allow them to expedite expansion and contribute to Taiwan and the Greater Southeast Asia region’s pursuit of zero carbon societies. As an early believer in WeMo, AppWorks has great confidence in this team’s future under the leadership of Jeffrey and Davidd,” said Jamie Lin, Chairman, AppWorks.

“Sustainable green energy development is the predominant global trend for energy and transportation, and is the core spirit of WeMo from inception. Building off the continuous and steady growth of WeMo, we will leverage our proven expertise in electric and shared vehicles to offer sustainable solutions for smart transportation throughout the Greater Southeast Asia region,” said Jeffrey Wu, Founder and Vice Chairman, WeMo.

About WeMo

WeMo Corp is an urban mobility solutions provider developing technology and services with the goal of decreasing dependency on privately-owned vehicles, reducing pollution, and improving urban life for all. WeMo empowers urban residents to enjoy zero carbon transportation on their own terms, including mobile-based rentals for automobiles, scooters, and bicycles. Understanding the importance of mass adoption of green technologies, WeMo’s fleet technology offerings help businesses manage their electric vehicle fleets in real time. As of 2022, WeMo has contributed to positive growth and resolving issues through reducing CO2 emissions by 3.5 million kg.

For more information, please visit http://www.wemoscooter.com

[If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with web3 / DAO and AI / IoT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.]

WeMo Scooter 疫情後穩健成長,AppWorks 2023 年開春加碼增資助攻開啟國際拓展

2020 年初疫情趨峻以來全球經濟市場受到衝擊,亞洲智慧共享運具先驅 WeMo Scooter 憑藉高度彈性應變能力並掌握即時數據,迅速針對消費者需求調整產品與盈利模式,在後疫情時代擴張用戶族群及數量、營收反彈成長,持續穩健發展。此外,WeMo Smart Mobility 團隊擁有三大優勢與核心智慧車聯網技術,既有投資人 AppWorks 看好其團隊具備跨域、跨運具營運能量,可望進軍商機龐大的東南亞智慧運輸市場,於 2023 年開春完成加碼增資數百萬美元助攻,以此展開拓展東南亞市場的初期工作,並啟動更多國際合作並募集海外資源挹注。

後疫情時代市場詭譎多變,WeMo Scooter 在短期內針對消費者需求調整產品與消費模式,2022 年底用戶數成長驚人,其活躍使用率更是提升逾 10%,不管是新舊用戶黏著度正不斷地升高,顯示疫情後大眾的移動習慣已產生改變。此外,因應消費者及企業端跨域、跨運具需求,WeMo Smart Mobility 團隊在 2022 年第三季推出子品牌 WeMo RenTour,是台灣首個結合手機 App 租賃,整合橫跨汽車、機車及電動自行車等多元運具與不同租賃品牌的服務。並且,團隊觀察到市場對共享運具的需求與使用習慣改變,於 2022 年第四季推出全台首創共享機車訂閱制 WeMo PASS,消費者不再受限過往訂閱的趟次與時數限制所綑綁,訂閱數在首月即獲得佳績,超越預估並翻倍成長。WeMo Scooter 在 2022 年整體營收相較去年以雙位數百分比成長,並回到疫情前水準,可望在未來三至五年再以倍數成長躍進。

WeMo Smart Mobility 團隊三大優勢及核心技術對齊市場剛需及趨勢,既有投資人 AppWorks 看準團隊應變效率與跨域、跨運具適性,加碼增資助攻海外:

  1. 後疫情時代大環境受到衝擊,WeMo Scooter 在一片紅海中非但不以變相削價方式競爭,更打破市場傳統框架推出 WeMo PASS,用戶黏著度創新高,營運含金量再提升。 「智慧城市調度」管理也高度提升資源有效利用,不但滿足用戶需求,更符合 WeMo Scooter 一直秉持的綠色永續發展精神。
  2. WeMo 為智慧運輸車聯網公司,主力產品 WeMo Scooter 在台灣三大城市經營 7 年以來,已打下深厚基礎,擁有豐富第一線營運及服務經驗,並具備完整「數據累積和即時運用」能力,成功應用在跨域及跨運具營運平台及整合租賃業者資源,有足夠成熟能量向海外擴展。
  3. WeMo核心能力不單是提供路邊隨租隨還的便利服務,其完備的車聯網技術與車隊整合系統精準對齊全球市場剛需及趨勢,並在每個開發階段所累積的數據與模組規格能夠彈性應用,達到車聯網服務最大化效能,不再侷限地域及運具,達到環境永續目標。

在經歷三年疫情的衝擊後,產業界開始面對 2023 年全新的政經局勢。國際貨幣基金 (IMF) 預期 2023 年全球將面臨嚴峻挑戰,美國、歐洲及中國三大經濟體將持續呈現衰退,將導致至少 1/3 其他國家陷入景氣衰退。

AppWorks 董事長暨合夥人林之晨指出:「近幾年大家都感受到氣候變遷與劇烈氣象,對生活帶來的衝擊,認知到實現淨零碳排的必要,其中,加速共享、綠色運輸的發展,至為關鍵。因此,AppWorks 長期支持 WeMo Smart Mobility,期望加速其在台拓展與區域化的腳步。過去三年,在疫情反覆衝擊的營運環境下,WeMo 經營團隊展現出驚人的韌性與執行力,不僅在產品與服務上能持續創新,提供用戶更多選擇、更好體驗,在 WeMo PASS 助攻下,財務表現更是屢創新高。AppWorks 相信,進入後疫情階段,經過淬鍊的 WeMo 團隊,結合自身的經驗與優勢,必定能在大東南亞舞台寫下美好的新篇章。」

WeMo 執行長劉于遜表示:「身為台灣綠色共享運具先驅,過去 7 年以來在台灣本土深耕獲得許多寶貴經驗,也累積成熟能量發展各種盈利模式,並隨時保持敏捷滾動式調整策略與腳步,在最壞也是最好的時代從台灣出發,期盼能在海外市場取得更多國際合作與資源挹注。」

全球及亞太智慧運輸市場需求激增,依據 kbvresearch 調查,全球智慧運輸市場正以 8.7% 複合成長率擴張,將在 2023 年達 571.95 億美元的市場規模。越南、菲律賓、泰國、新加坡、印尼、印度等亞太多國皆有重大交通建設工程。WeMo 副董事長暨創辦人吳昕霈強調:「綠能永續發展亦是全球焦點趨勢,也是 WeMo 營運發展核心之一,WeMo 在持續穩健成長之下,將挾三大優勢跨海強攻,並在 AppWorks 加碼增資助攻之下,目標在數位經濟時代以跨國界、跨運具之強大策略武器打開所有可能,建立亞太智慧運輸永續生態圈。」

【歡迎 Web3 / DAO、AI / IoT 以及目標 Southeast Asia 市場的創業者,加入 AppWorks Accelerator

Indonesia’s Largest AgriTech Platform EdenFarm, Raises $13.5M Pre-Series B Round Co-led by TMI, AppWorks, and AC Ventures

Editor’s Note: We’re proud to back EdenFarm, the largest agritech platform in Indonesia. EdenFarm has secured $13.5 million in its latest Pre-Series B round. The press release from EdenFarm is below:

  • Led by Telkomsel venture arm, TMI, with AppWorks and AC Ventures among other investors.
  • EdenFarm has raised $13.5 million in their new Pre-Series B funding round; proceeds from this round will advance EdenFarm’s proven profitability track record in improving farm-to-table sustainability and providing tech-based solutions to B2B food supply chain’s most pressing problems.
  • This new round demonstrates TMI’s commitment to supporting the empowerment of leading digital players while accelerating digital transformation in the country’s agricultural sector to strengthen an impact-driven and sustainable national digital ecosystem.

EdenFarm, a food service-focused startup based in Indonesia, has secured $13.5 million in its latest Pre-Series B bridge round, which was led by Telkomsel venture arm – TMI, AppWorks, and AC Ventures, also supported by Decart Ventures, Fubon Capital, Trihill Capital, OCBC NISP Ventura, Nakhla and Capria Ventures. This corporate action is Telkomsel and TMI’s commitment to nurturing the potential digital startups in the country and the Indonesian agricultural sector to be more advanced and developed through the use and optimization of leading and sustainable digital technology.

EdenFarm aims to build a food supply chain ecosystem in Indonesia that is profitable and sustainable for the farmers and all stakeholders. EdenFarm has raised $34.5 million throughout the fourth significant funding round for EdenFarm since its establishment in 2017. The funds raised will deepen EdenFarm’s penetration in key farming partners across Indonesia, improving customer experience with tech-based solutions for the country’s most pressing food security and efficiency problems.

Founder and CEO EdenFarm’s, David Setyadi Gunawan says, “EdenFarm is thrilled to team up with Telkomsel to add precision farming technologies and insights to our local farmers. Our range of products caters to all aspects of the agriculture industry, from farms to distribution, to help farmers create sustainable and profitable businesses. The recent funding will allow us to grow our presence in Indonesia and solidify our position as a leading player in the agriculture and food service sectors. We believe that this partnership with Telkomsel will significantly benefit our platform.”

“EdenFarm has seen almost 60X growth in the last 40 months and has laid the foundation to remain profitable on its path, leading amongst other players who are suffering big losses. It signifies the victorious status of EdenFarm as a market leader in agri-tech. We aim to widen the profit in the next 12 months, along with 3.5-4X growth on a YoY basis. From there, it will pursue new markets”, added David.

CEO of Telkomsel Mitra Inovasi (TMI), Mia Melinda says, “TMI believes in the important use of “tech for good” and helping entrepreneurs and small businesses with high dedication and passion for making a positive impact for Indonesia’s economy has always been our focus. EdenFarm’s strong B2B food supply chain network from upstream to downstream empowers local farmers to gain better income and create a positive impact in rural areas. Hence, we are excited to back the EdenFarm food ecosystem with funding and collaboration with Telkomsel Digital Food Ecosystem (DFE), which is one of Telkomsel’s initiatives to support the digitization in the agricultural sector, and other synergies to propel EdenFarm’s platform throughout Indonesia to secure long-term food needs.”

Adrian Li, Founder and Managing Partner at AC Ventures, said, “Strongly aligned with our firm’s ESG-focused investment philosophy, EdenFarm is operating at nearly 0% food waste and delivering a robust and meaningful impact to the livelihoods of Indonesia’s farmers. The startup is revolutionizing the country’s B2B food supply chain by addressing some of the most pressing challenges both producers and sellers face. We at AC Ventures are confident in EdenFarm’s business and are excited to participate in its latest funding round. We are proud to serve as a catalyst to drive forward EdenFarm’s mission of building a more efficient and sustainable food ecosystem in Indonesia. The impact EdenFarm is making is truly transformative, and we can’t wait to see more positive changes this team brings about in the industry.”

EdenFarm, a food-service-focused startup pioneer with a focus on B2B customers, started the business in 2017 with a vision to simplify Indonesia’s B2B food supply chain and empower the food ecosystem to improve the welfare of farmers, food and culinary business actors through accurate demand consistency, various training, and technological support. EdenFarm serves more than 50,000 customers in the B2B segment, ranging from the secondary market, culinary SMEs, and HORECA to startup partners.

About EdenFarm 

EdenFarm is a pioneer in B2B food service focused startups in Indonesia, whose mission is to build an efficient food ecosystem for farmers and food & culinary business. Leveraging technology to empower local farmers and create a positive impact in rural areas, EdenFarm aims to simplify food supply chains and, at the same time, helps to improve farmers’ welfare through accurate demand consistency and various training. Supported by local and global investors, EdenFarm now operates in 14 cities and three districts throughout Java and continues to serve over 50,000 B2B customers throughout the island. EdenFarm’s user-friendly mobile app is available on the AppStore and Google Play Store.

For more information, please visit www.edenfarm.id

[If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with web3 / DAO and AI / IoT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.]

Why We Invested: The Decentralized Quartet of Origami, Inc.

Jack An, Analyst (安良方 / 分析師)

Jack is an Analyst covering AppWorks Accelerator. Before joining the team, he was a co-founder and early team member at two InsurTech startups, where he developed a passion in user experience and product development. Previous to his startup journey he worked as a commercial property underwriter at Chubb Insurance in New Zealand. Jack graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Waikato University where he studied classical piano. He loves to cook, read and is a practicing stoic.

With the introduction of a new form of asset ownership such as fungible tokens (cryptocurrencies) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) powered by blockchain, accounting for production value is perhaps at the most efficient point in human history. These new tools – and any other tool that came before – change human behavior as suddenly the world we perceive now works differently. This could very well be the first ripple to forever change how humans organize and collaborate with each other. 

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, DAOs for short, is envisioned to be a re-invented form of community-owned organization that follows rules encoded by computer program, decision making and financial transactions following these rules are transparently made for the community and kept on blockchain ledger, creating this “trust-less” environment that open up the possibility for organizations to function without relying on total oversight such as the government or a few selected authoritative. This allows organizations to operate from anywhere in the world, as they are incorporated on-chain instead of with local sovereign regimes, and the payment for these operations can also be made to anyone in the world leveraging cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

DAOs really took off this year as all sorts of communities adopted this form of on-chain organization from gaming to DeFI, to social and non-profit organizations. The most prominent and immediate DAOs that are seeing strong traction right now are investment DAOs where people pool money together and make investments similar to an angel club. These on-chain investment DAOs are able to invest in both NFTs and tokens, while people in the DAO possess something representing their ownership stake of the collective funding. Investment DAOs have seemingly found a product-market-fit (PMF) this year. 

That’s why we are very excited to make our investment into Origami, Inc., launched by veteran founder and crypto native Ben Huh, alongside Bloomberg Beta, Protocol Labs, Dylan Field, Balaji Srinivasan, and many others. Ben  and his co-founders are extremely passionate about helping humans co-create their tribes and organizations by building tools and playbooks that can help scale these organizations into the future. 

Origami co-founders – a true test to decentralization organization

The co-founders of Origami are spread across different time zones. Ben (CEO) and Johnny Chin (CGO) are both based in San Francisco, while Matt Voska (COO) is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Stephen Caudill (CTO) is based in Colorado. This made scheduling our calls slightly difficult with AppWorks being in Taipei. But in those early morning calls we were still able to really find resonance with the team’s passion for collaboration, even with thousands of miles between them. Which stands as a solid proof that DAOs can work and they can work very well together.

Being decentralized, the team was naturally formed on the internet like most DAOs these days. But more than just randomly DM’ing each other, the Origami team already had an interesting track record together co-founding OrangeDAO and raising US$80 million to back ambitious crypto founders around the world. The team initially connected as they were all part of different Y Combinator programs, but as YC didn’t really focus on crypto and web3, the Origami founders turned their maxed-out WhatsApp crypto group of 256 people into OrangeDAO with over 1,000 members.

The founding of OrangeDAO wasn’t by luck either. Just before the WhatsApp group started, Ben was introduced by friends to some famous internet cats that took the crypto world by storm – Cryptokittes – created by Dapper Labs, an AppWorks portfolio. Ben is a veteran when it comes to cats on the internet, having built I-Can-Has-Cheezburger.com (ICHC), a collection of User Generated Content (UGC) websites fueled with memes. And at the prime of their operation had 400 million unique views per month.

Ben immediately made the connection between the relationship of blockchain and how it can power communities in a whole new way. With his time at ICHC, Ben and his team cultivated thriving communities that produced endless streams of new content, metas, and derivative content of everything in between. However, there simply wasn’t a way to account for the values created by the community itself nor the value of cultivating the community itself. This problem seems finally solvable with the new tools brought to us by blockchain.

Onboarding the next 100,000 DAOs

The team took their learnings from OrangeDAO and made it into a framework for other investment DAOs to adopt, including Kauffman Fellows VC3 DAO, Techstars Constellation DAO, and Bessemer Venture’s BessemerDAO. But it doesn’t just stop there. Although investment DAOs have found PMF this year, there are also countless other DAOs formed and operated across Decentralized Finance, web3 gaming, open-source NFT governance, social clubs, and so much more that in 2021 alone the assets held by DAO treasuries grew 40x to US$11 billion in one year. Even the 2022 Taipei Blockchain Week is run and hosted by a DAO dubbed Bu Zhi DAO.

However, it isn’t easy to run a DAO. A lot of DAOs struggle to keep their communities engaged, select the best voting style for their community, or still find it difficult to properly communicate among their peers. And this is where Origami comes in. With the funding, Origami will be able to scale up technologies and support a variety of DAOs, with their framework in tandem to provide these new organizations a guideline on how to optimize coordination in voting, decision making, and member management so they can produce a consensus decision wherever they are and in whatever field of focus.

Places to belong

Ben, the Origami team and their investors, including we at AppWorks, all believe DAOs will play a very crucial role through onboarding general users and giving them their first web3 aha moment. At the end of the day, humans are a very diverse bunch with all sorts of different wants and needs, and each of us desires to belong and spend our time here on earth on things we find meaningful. We’ve already witnessed the result of connecting diverse communities and organizations that span around the world via Reddit or other forums alike. But for the very first time, these assorted forums of fascination can now be so much more than just text with efficient organization powered by DAOs.

At AppWorks, we look for great founders who are building new and innovative models. We’re honored to have the privilege to partner with Ben and the entire Origami team as they continue to push the envelope on DAOs and how people organize in the digital age.

[If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with web3 and AI / IoT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.]