SINGAPORE-based express delivery company Ninja Logistics, which runs the Ninja Van service, has raised US$30 million in Series B funding led by private equity firm Abraaj Group amid growing interest in the regional e-commerce space.
Existing investor Monk's Hill Ventures of Singapore and new investors B Capital Group and Yahoo Japan's YJ Capital joined Abraaj in the fundraising exercise.
Ninja Van, which specialises in last-mile delivery services, operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, and says that it delivers about 15,000 parcels a day and supports more than 3,000 customers. The proceeds from the latest fundraising will be used to grow operations and to expand into Thailand and the Philippines by the end of 2016. The company will also triple its customer-service headcount across the region and invest in its systems.
"These guys are taking a very innovative approach to that last mile and we like that, and we think it's very scaleable," Abraaj partner and head of Asia Omar Lodhi told The Business Times. Abraaj, a US$9 billion fund, is no stranger to the e-commerce business. Its recent deals include the lead role in a US$150 million funding round for India's BigBasket online grocery business and a US$100 million acquisition of a minority stake in Turkish online retailer Hepsiburada.
Mr Lodhi said that with markets such as Indonesia having an e-commerce penetration rate of only about one per cent, there is considerable potential for penetration in the region to grow closer to the 10 per cent seen in more established markets such as China over the next four to five years.
"E-commerce is no longer a sideshow," Mr Lodhi said. "It's a reality. E-commerce is going to penetrate our everday lives, penetrate mainstream retail. I'm not saying it's going to replace bricks and mortar, but the world we live in is going to be omni channel."
The Ninja deal is just the latest in a string of early-stage logistics and e-commerce deals in the region.
In January, Singapore Press Holdings, which owns The Business Times, led a US$1.5 million funding round to invest in Selangor-based business-to-business on-demand transport company TheLorry.
In June 2015, Hong Kong-based GoGoVan raised an "eight-figure" Series B+ round of funding.
Ninja Van chief executive Chang Wen Lai said that his company's ability to cover rural areas and places where addresses and postal codes are not well established sets it apart from the competition, including larger multinational incumbents. Ninja Van is also already running an operating profit in its established cities.
Mr Lai said that "there's been a lot of interest" in the company. "E-commerce still resides in the digital realm, but at the end of the day something physical still has to appear at the person's doorstep."