Init 6 backs Japan-bound Indonesian manufacturing startup

Imajin, an Indonesia-based digital manufacturing hub, has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed capital from Init 6 – the VC firm established by Bukalapak co-founders – as it looks to tap opportunities beyond its home market, starting from Japan.

In an exclusive conversation with Tech in Asia, Imajin co-founder and CEO Chendy Jaya says the company’s plan to tap markets beyond Indonesia has been spurred by the support of the country’s Ministry of Industry, which has appointed Imajin as one of the local companies and organizations to explore potential partnerships with Japan in the field of manufacturing.

“The ministry has given us the opportunity to bridge the manufacturing needs of Japan to the supply in Indonesia. So it is likely that we will have customers from outside of Indonesia, particularly Japan,” he says.

Operating predominantly as a B2B marketplace platform, Imajin connects large companies to SME manufacturers in Indonesia. It focuses on metal and plastic products that serve different industries such as automotive, electronic goods, and packaging.

The company currently has 80 enterprise customers, including several Japanese companies in Indonesia such as Tom’s Racing, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Mitsubishi Motor Corporation. On the supply side, Imajin works with around 400 local manufacturers, mostly located in and around Jakarta.

With the fresh capital at its disposal, the three-year-old startup says it will look to team up with more manufacturers across different parts of Indonesia.

First-mover advantage

The overseas expansion comes relatively early for Imajin, which began its current business only in 2019. However, its work with multinational enterprises dates back to 2014, when the company was still operating largely as a manufacturing consulting firm. It helped clients optimize their productivity and efficiency.

“When we worked with them, they would always ask to be connected with local manufacturers that can help with their products. We saw an opportunity there, so we decided to build a marketplace,” shares Jaya.

Imajin says that it is the only startup trying to disrupt a sector with a market size of US$211 billion. The company has enjoyed notable growth over the past year, though it did experience setbacks due to the economic slowdown brought about by Covid-19.

In 2021, the startup saw its revenue surge by 250% organically. The biggest driver of this growth is its marketplace business, though it also sees encouraging contributions from its two new business lines of selling raw materials to manufacturers and offering project financing.

“Almost 20% of Indonesia’s GDP comes from the manufacturing sector and it’s growing rapidly with the adoption of new technologies. We believe that Imajin will play a big role in revolutionizing this sector in Indonesia,” says Init 6 venture partner Rexi Christopher.

Imajin says it is benefiting from its first-mover advantage in Indonesia and possibly also across Southeast Asia. The company says it expects this advantage would help it become one of the market leaders in the region.

Should it manage to achieve this, the company and its supporters would be hoping that it could replicate the later success of its Indian counterpart Zetwerk, which last year saw its valuation soar to over US$1 billion in the space of only four years.

“Imajin is expected to be a manufacturing startup that can compete with other startups in other industries, because we haven’t got any unicorn startup in the manufacturing sector, and we hope for Imajin to achieve that,” says Agus Gumiwang, Indonesia’s industry minister.

(Source: TechinAsia)