Malaysia: Gobi Partners Onboards Startups Durioo+, Lapasar, Paywatch, pitchIN to Superseed II Fund

Gobi Partners, the “most interconnected” Pan-Asian venture capital (VC) firm with US$1.5 billion (RM6.5 billion) in assets under management has “onboarded four more promising Malaysian startups to its Gobi Superseed II Fund (Gobi SSII Fund).”

The four firms “being onboarded are Islamic-themed streaming service Durioo+, e-commerce marketplace Lapasar, earned wage access provider Paywatch and online investing platform pitchIN.”

All four companies have been “identified as leaders in their respective fields and have the capability to scale up and bring sizeable returns to the Malaysian economy.”

Gobi Managing Partner (Malaysia), Jamaludin Bujang is excited “to welcome the new portfolios to the Gobi family and to also help guide them through the expected economic headwinds this year.”

He said:

“We are continuing our efforts to help spur the growth of entrepreneurs, especially startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in the local ecosystem during a challenging time for the Malaysian economy, as evidenced by our latest investment into these four companies under the Gobi SSII Fund. The tough situations faced by startups do in a way, act as a natural filter for us to choose the best companies. Because of this, we were able to identify and then invest in Durioo+, Lapasar, Paywatch and pitchIN who have not only successfully adjusted themselves to remain relevant to their markets but have also thrived and strengthened their respective positions.”

Islamic-themed streaming service Durioo+, which is subscription-based and accessible on smart devices and appliances, was “launched in February 2022 to showcase high-quality Islamic and kid-friendly content.”

The streaming platform “showcases Durioo+ Originals, high-quality Islamic cartoons and kid-friendly content from around the world.” In 10 months, the platform has “gained over 20,000 subscribed users and is airing more than 1,600 episodes of content thus far.”

Harnessing more than a decade’s worth of experience leading Digital Durian, “the publisher of Didi & Friends and Omar & Hana, Durioo+ Founder, Sinan Ismail wants to build a platform that produces content for Muslim children and educational mobile games that teach Islamic values.”

He said:

“There are over 400 million Muslim children around the world, but there are too few high-quality Islamic animations and games, that children love to watch and play. What we want to do is instil good values and virtues through the lens of a Muslim.”

In the next five years, the company plan is “to enter the global market – specifically the United States, the United Kingdom, MENA, Indonesia, Europe and South Asia countries. Durioo+ aims to collaborate with other local and foreign animation studios, production houses and game companies to produce more content and games.”

Launched in 2018, the business-to-business e-commerce marketplace Lapasar focuses on the distribution of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) “for general trade.” It has served over 10,000 SMEs “throughout the country through its own warehousing, distribution and financial services capabilities.

Although Lapasar transformed “into a wholesale procurement platform for small retailers only in June 2020, it grew 172% year-on-year in 2021 and above 100 times since its first funding round.”

The aim, Lapasar Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thinesh Kumar said is to become the largest wholesale platform in Malaysia by 2026.

He said:

“We aim to be the go-to mobile app for retailers to source and buy their FMCG goods at consistently low prices, delivered within 48 hours for free. Lapasar is also beginning to explore lines of credits with partners for the shops which has shown early promise and will continue to expand on that as well.”

With the growing demand for earned wage access (EWA) in Asia, Paywatch has established itself “as the leading EWA solution that helps employees bridge cash flow gaps between paychecks.”

As the only EWA solution that is partnered with top-tier banks, Paywatch also fosters financial inclusion by “helping unbanked and underbanked Malaysian workers gain access to the banking system.”

Paywatch is “the only EWA solution of its kind in Asia and has been recognised by the UN Capital Development Fund, Bank Negara Malaysia, and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) for its financial inclusion efforts.”

Moreover, Paywatch is “the only EWA solution that has been licensed and is recognised by regulators in its operating markets.” Its EWA service is “being trusted and widely adopted by notable companies in Malaysia such as Lotus’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, QSR Brands, Wilmar and Kenny Hills Bakers.”

Online investing platform pitchIN has, “since its inception in 2016, raised in excess of US$65 million (RM280 million) on its equity crowdfunding (ECF) platform from over 7,600 individual investments made by retail and sophisticated investors to help fund 154 of Malaysia’s fast-growing companies.”

pitchIN will launch its Secondary Market and Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) platforms “this year following approval from the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) in 2022.”

It also received approval from SC “to list Shariah-compliant campaigns on the ECF platform.”

pitchIN CEO, Sam Shafie said that the company “had been preparing to grow into a digital investments fintech hub with multiple offerings,” noting:

“We believe that IEO and the pitchIN Secondary Market will enable pitchIN to offer more fundraising options as well as add liquidity options for investors.”

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