SCI Ecommerce, the online shopping service provider backed by two of Alibaba’s earliest employees, has raised more than S$50 million ($38 million) to expand in Southeast Asia ahead of a potential Nasdaq listing.
Asia Partners led the new funding round, which valued the seven-year-old startup at $235 million, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified. Armed with an aggressive expansion strategy in Southeast Asia, the startup is planning to pursue a primary listing in New York as early as the end of this year with a target market valuation of $1 billion, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Liu said in an interview over Zoom. The company, which last year obtained in-principle approval to list in Singapore, will consider a potential secondary listing in city’s stock exchange, he added.
SCI — short for Singapore, China, Indonesia — helps brands such as Unilever, Crayola, Nestle and Danone set up and manage their online stores in Southeast Asia and China. The startup, which was founded by Liu in 2014, plans to use the fresh capital to set up local teams in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines and hire at least 100 people across Southeast Asia and China in the next 12 months, adding to its near 200-strong workforce. Existing investors include two of 18 original founders of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., James Sheng and Eddie Wu, as well as Jubilee Capital and Chinese tech entrepreneur Pang Shengdong.
“Our vision is to become the No. 1 e-commerce solution provider in Southeast Asia,” said the 34-year-old entrepreneur. He added SCI’s future plan is to become a combined Shopify Inc. and Baozun Inc. for the Asia Pacific market, referring to the Canadian and Chinese platforms that help businesses establish their online presences with digital storefronts and other tools.
Liu said SCI posted net income on revenue that more than doubled from 2019 to almost S$150 million in 2020. Its operating profit surged from S$183,000 in 2019 to S$1.9 million during the same period.
Asia Partners, which closed its debut fund at $384 million in March, invests in tech startups in Southeast Asia. Its six co-founders include Nick Nash, former president of Sea Ltd., the region’s biggest internet company, and Oliver Rippel, former CEO of Naspers Ltd.’s B2C e-commerce segment who led the company’s investments in Indian online retailer Flipkart.
(Updates with SCI’s valuation in the second paragraph.)