ARUNA, a startup operating in the marine and fisheries industry, has raised US$5.5 million in a Series A round from venture capital firms East Ventures and AC Ventures, and SMDV, the venture arm of Sinar Mas. The investors are existing backers of the startup.
Aruna operates a digital platform that connects thousands of fishermen in 31 coastal areas in Indonesia to buyers, essentially cutting out the middleman so that fishermen get a greater share of the profits.
The company will use the additional funding to expand its reach to more fishermen in Indonesia and to scale its operations into new domestic and export business-to-business (B2B) markets.
For the B2B segment, the main customers are processing companies, distributors and modern or traditional retail players in the domestic and overseas markets. Aruna helps local fishermen export their products to South-east Asia, East Asia, North America and the Middle East.
The startup's revenue grew 86 times in the first half of 2020, compared with a year ago. "The biggest contribution to this growth is our expansion to cover many areas in Indonesia and to register more fishermen to join us; we help them become more productive and focus more on quality," Farid Naufal Aslam, co-founder and chief executive of Aruna told The Business Times.
He said that the current demand for products on Aruna's platform outstrips the supply capacity. In some of the fishing communities, demand for fresh sea products has increased even amid the pandemic. Aruna has increased its stock-keeping units so that customers can order more types of products from them.
To cater to the spiking demand for fresh produce and staples, Aruna launched a home-delivery service for consumers in the Greater Jakarta area, Bandung and Balikpapan.
The startup was founded in 2016 by Mr Aslam; Indraka Fadhillah, who is now chief operating officer; and Utari Octavianty, who is now director-general. The trio, who are graduates of Telkom University Bandung, wanted to use technology to create a sustainable and fair-trade ecosystem for fish and marine products.
Aruna also helps fishermen get access to affordable financing schemes with its partners, as well as educate them on how to use proper eco-friendly tools to catch fish.