SoftBank eyes investment in Indonesian startups Ruangguru and Aruna

This could wash more venture capital into the up-and-coming edtech and agritech sectors in Indonesia.

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According to Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, SoftBank will invest in the Indonesian edtech startup Ruangguru and fisheries e-commerce startup Aruna.

Pandjaitan made these remarks towards local press at two separate occasions this week in Jakarta. This comes after SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son visited Indonesia to meet with President Joko Widodo, Pandjaitan, other officials, and a number of startup CEOs in late July.

As a result of this meeting, SoftBank had committed to channeling a USD 2 billion investment through ride-hailing platform Grab, which it already invested large sums in. Son at that time also said he would invest more into Indonesian startups, without mentioning names.

Now it looks like SoftBank might be joining Ruangguru’s previous investors East Ventures and UOB. DealStreetAsia reported that the two had “doubled down” on their investment in an ongoing fundraising round.

Ruangguru, founded five years ago as an online tutoring platform, has grown to be the most diversified edtech startups in Indonesia. It claims to have over six million users and works with more than 150,000 teachers who offer online courses in 100 learning areas.

Ruangguru’s co-founder and CEO Belva Devara has been bullish about the fundraising prospects of the startup.

In early July, before Masayoshi Son’s visit to Indonesia, Devara had told local media that Ruangguru was about to raise a “big” round of investment, one that could propel it to unicorn status this year or next.

The investment would be used to develop new products and expand the company’s team, according to Delvara. He didn’t mention the amount of funding or whether SoftBank would be one of the investors, but the specific reference to a “big round” that could turn it into a unicorn could be seen as a nod towards SoftBank, which is known for cutting large checks.

Ruangguru’s current valuation is unknown and previous rounds of financing, which have included a seed round from East Ventures in 2014, a Series A round from Venturra Capital in 2015, and a Series B round from UOB in 2017 have been largely undisclosed.

KrASIA has contacted Ruangguru but has not heard back.

Raditya Pramana, a partner at Venturra Capital, said he can’t comment on SoftBank investing in Ruangguru, but shared that “[Ruangguru] has been phenomenal in the past two years and is by far the largest and the most exciting edtech player in the nation, or arguably even the region.”

East Ventures declined to comment.

Meanwhile,  fisheries startup Aruna, also on SoftBank’s list according to Pandjaitan, is one of the few companies that managed to sustain and grow in Indonesia’s challenging agriculture and fisheries space. It uses technology to improve the livelihoods of the fishermen by connecting them with buyers directly, ensuring fairer trading opportunities.

Aruna’s CEO Farid Aslam declined to comment on market speculation but he did not deny that his team had met with the SoftBank team on a number of occasions.

“It is true that Aruna is currently fundraising and we’ll announce it after everything is wrapped up,” Aslam told KrASIA.