HighPitch: E-grocery marketplace Pasar20 and healthcare edtech Appskep top the Medan chapter

© HighPitch

Representing Sumatra’s startup ecosystem in the national finals later in November, Pasar20 and Appskep have ambitious expansion plans in store


Consumer platforms ruled the Medan chapter of Indonesia’s HighPitch startup pitch competition on November 9. E-grocer Pasar20 and Appskep, which is building an online learning service that prepares healthcare graduates for competency tests, emerged regional winners and will go on to compete in the national grand final on November 25.

Pasar20 only launched this year, but has already won over partners like Lotte Grosir, the wholesale arm of Lotte Mart in Indonesia, and SanFood, a local grocery merchant in Batam, Riau Islands, as well as traditional local food markets in Batam. The startup is operating in Batam and Yogyakarta, and plans to expand to Jakarta and Bogor soon.

Meanwhile, Appskep was founded in 2016, offering tutoring for nursing graduates. The founders believed that many nursing and healthcare students could not find employment upon graduation because of the high failure rates in the mandatory competency tests. Today Appskep’s learning platform, which offers tutoring for midwives and nutritionists, too, has users from all over Indonesia and made nearly IDR 2bn in net profit in 2019.

These startups will take part in HighPitch’s bootcamp alongside eight other regional finalists from the rest of Indonesia, before competing in the national finals. 

HighPitch is jointly organized by Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (Kemenparekraf/Baparekraf) and investors UMG Idealab and ALTIRA.

Pasar20: B2B as competitive edge

E-grocer Pasar20 serves both B2C and B2B customers. However, in the past few months, it’s been boosting its B2B business, CEO Dede Saputra said in an interview.

“We started in B2C because during the [Covid-19] pandemic, many people want to shop from home,” Saputra said. “But now we are in the 'new normal', and people are adapting to the conditions. They are resuming normal activities, and dining out. Hence, we see that it’s the businesses that need support.”

Saputra said Pasar plans to raise pre-Series A funding of about IDR 2bn, which would give the company a 12-month runway and capital to expand to Jakarta and Bogor. Following that, the team wants Series A funding to add Bandung and Surabaya to their markets.

A few VC investors judging during the Medan chapter pitch contest were more doubtful about Pasar20’s prospects. Samuel Chong, Investment Manager at TNB Aura, thought the e-grocery market seemed oversaturated, which is depressing margins.

Matthew Tirtamarta, Investment Associate at ATM Capital, advised Pasar20 to find its focus soon, or risk burning cash too fast. 

“One thing that I’m sure of is that they have the knowledge," he said, "but they need a direction in terms of which side to approach, whether it’s B2B, B2C, or both… Their challenge is to manage money efficiently, to get the right target and to have growth."

Appskep: Addressing healthcare graduate unemployment

Appskep, an edtech platform for healthcare workers, currently has 30,000 active users from all across Indonesia. CEO Yaumil Fajri said Appskep initially started by offering tutoring and mock exams for the national nursing competency test, which graduates must pass before they can qualify to work as nurses.

Appskep’s star feature is its mock tests, which simulate the real ones. Various edtech platforms, including leader Ruangguru, offer such simulations to help students prepare for the real thing.

Appskep has expanded organically since it was established in 2016. It works with other tutoring and test prep companies to provide services for midwifery and nutrition graduates. Fajri says they are planning to expand into other specializations within healthcare, including general medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

Daniel Jayasaputro, Business Development, at Astra Mitra Ventura, was one of the judges presiding over the Medan regional pitch. He said: “The interesting point for me about Appskep is that while in big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, there might be enough capable healthcare professionals, I think Appskep can help the healthcare manpower supply in rural areas grow and maintain the capabilities in those areas.”

Going forward, Fajri said Appskep wants to “create a business ecosystem to solve some problems in healthcare.

“Even when they [healthcare graduates] pass the competency tests, it turns out that the job market cannot accommodate the graduates. Some of the alternatives we are exploring is to develop a headhunter service for healthcare graduates, or an on-demand health service,” he said.

The Appskep founding team does not plan to raise funding in the near term, preferring to focus on learning to develop their business first. To that end, they hope that attending HighPitch’s bootcamp would prove invaluable.

CompassList is the official media partner of the HighPitch 2020 National Startup Competition.

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Edited by Bernice Tang

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