Building a Southeast Asian e-commerce titan is tricky.
Along with immature infrastructure hurdles–a gap that can require founders to bake delivery and other logistics into startups–companies face a region where many consumers have never bought anything online and cash is king.
Still, a number of venture investors see speedy wireless networks and rising smartphone adoption as evidence the region will be a profitable bet for a company prepared to tackle those challenges.
Singapore-based Daraz aims to be that e-commerce company. Now, it has raised about $55 million to strengthen its foothold in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar as it considers expansion in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Laos.
“There are some smaller local players, but it is largely untapped. That is one reason why we find it so attractive,” said Hanno Stegmann, chief executive of the Asia Pacific Internet Group, which led the investment.
Mr. Hanno said are political forces and other dynamics that make operating in the region riskier but that the opportunities outweigh the downsides.
In March, it tapped Bjarke Mikkelsen, who previously led activities for Goldman Sachs in Scandinavia, as its chief executive.
Mr. Mikkelsen said Daraz, which now has about 70 of its 500 employees based in Myanmar, has built a decentralized system for delivering goods in the major cities. Couriers typically use motorcycles and make a small number of deliveries to customers who pay cash.
For the full story on the investment in Daraz, check out VentureWire.
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