Southeast Asian startups to keep riding digitalization, IPO boom, investors say

O2O business models and growing interest in ESG are also key themes, as regional startups gain $4.4bn of funding in first half of 2021

E-commerce and related verticals like payments and logistics will continue to net the bulk of funding in Southeast Asia for at least the next two years, VCs say, as more local consumers go online and businesses digitalize. Sectors that boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as edtech and healthtech, are also seen gaining further traction.

Adrian Li, Managing Partner and founder of AC Ventures, expects more “exciting companies” to emerge in those sectors. “There are companies [in the verticals] that are small now, but will reach centaur status soon,” he said in an interview, referring to startups valued at $100m or higher. In particular, business models that interact with or support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will become mainstream in the next 24 months, he added.

Southeast Asian startups attracted $4.4bn in funding via 393 deals tracked in the first half of 2021, according to a Cento Ventures report. Retail and financial services bagged the lion’s share, about $1.1bn each, followed by

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