Daily Markup #40: This Malaysian startup is flourishing amidst the Covid-19 pandemic

It’s possible.

Thriving during a crisis

  • SMEs are among the most hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Its widespread repercussions are felt strongly, some of which have been forced to shutter.
  • Yet, for 500-backed e-commerce platform Applecrumby, things have been looking up.
Credit: HappyGoKL
  • Co-founder and COO Jesmine Tan told us they have been abiding by three simple rules during this period, which were announced at their team-wide meeting.

1. Tasks must be sorted out by the end of the day
2. Messages must be checked daily
3. Revenue must be met

  • The instructions were clear and they got to work. In April 2020 alone, Applecrumby saw a 7-digit net profit. Instead of implementing pay cuts, increments and bonuses will be given out. And instead of withholding new product launches, Applecrumby is surging forward, selling out almost all inventory.
  • More ambitious than ever, Applecrumby is hoping to expand from 7 to 10 countries by end 2020.
  • You can stay updated with Applecrumby here.

When two giants collaborate

  • Social restriction measures in Indonesia have adversely affected 4.5 million warungs — Indonesian for kiosks — in the country. These micro-businesses are essentials, forming the backbone of Indonesia’s economy by bringing everyday needs to people living anywhere from rural areas to bustling cities.
Credit: Bukalapak
  • More now than ever, they need all the help they can get, especially with digital onboarding. 500-backed giants Grab and Bukalapak have together launched an initiative to empower these MSMEs.
  • GrabKios will provide digital products on the Mitra Bukalapak platform which can be sold by kiosk owners and agents to their customers to continue earning and diversifying income amidst the pandemic.
  • Currently, Mitra Bukalapak is home to about five million merchants and agents.

The silver lining for SEA startups

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  • The popular saying goes “behind every cloud is a silver lining” and that just may be the case for Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem.
  • In an interview with China Daily, 500 Startups Partner Vishal Harnal forecasts the SEA VC landscape post-Covid-19 when the dust finally settles on the “new normal”.
Credit: Vishal Harnal Twitter
  • “Firms and investors will become more comfortable with COVID-19 and the opportunities that it presents. We will see firms gradually starting to pick up the pace of investment,” Harnal says.
  • He also adds there are substantial piles of “dry powder” at the disposal of many SEA VC firms, waiting to be deployed. Dry powder is an industry term used to describe the number of cash reserves or liquid assets available for investing in new opportunities.
  • More on Vishal’s thoughts and the full interview here.

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500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. In Southeast Asia, 500 Startups invests through the pioneering 500 Southeast Asia family of funds. The 500 Southeast Asia funds have backed over 240 companies across multiple sectors from internet to consumer to deep technology. It continues to connect founders with capital, expertise and powerful regional and global networks to help them succeed.


This post is intended solely for general informational or educational purposes only. 500 Startups Management Company, L.L.C. and its affiliates (collectively “500 Startups”) makes no representation as to the accuracy or information in this post and while reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that the information herein is accurate and up-to-date, no liability can be accepted for any error or omissions. All third party links in this post have not been independently verified by 500 Startups and the inclusion of such links should not be interpreted as an endorsement or confirmation of the content within. Under no circumstances should any content in this post be construed as investment, legal, tax or accounting advice by 500 Startups, or an offer to sell or solicitation of interest to purchase any securities advised by 500 Startups. Prospective investors considering an investment into any 500 Startups fund should not consider or construe this content as fund marketing material. The views expressed herein are as at the date of this post and are subject to change without notice. A 500 Startups fund may have a financial interest in one or more of the companies discussed.

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