EMAILED ON January 22, 2019 BY Conor Grant

The race to digitize Indonesian street vendors is on, and Warung Pintar just raised $27.5m

Warung Pintar, an Indonesian startup on a mission to help street vendors digitize their roadside kiosks, just raised $27.5m

Founded just 18 months ago, Warung Pintar (which literally means ‘smart kiosk’) is one of several Indonesian tech companies competing to capitalize on carts.

Food carts are a BIG deal in Indonesia

In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta (the 2nd-largest urban area on the planet), informal streetside food carts provide an affordable and delicious dining option for a population on the go.

A 2015 government survey tallied 56k food vendors across Jakarta — but the actual number is likely much higher. And, while these kiosks make up a significant chunk of Indonesia’s economy, many are still built on small push-carts or modified bicycles.

It all started with an office remodeling

When an investment fund called East Ventures renovated its Jakarta office in 2017, a local street vendor worried that the fancy new building would overshadow his business. So, East Ventures offered to renovate his cart. 

Soon, the vendor was earning 5x as much, and East Ventures realized it was on to something. The investment firm spun off its cart venture, which it called Warung Pintar, and raised a $4m seed round to start selling smart kiosks all over Jakarta.

Today, Warung Pintar offers fully stocked carts for a single upfront fee of $5k, which includes a bright yellow kiosk, free Wi-Fi, a digital point-of-sale system, a surveillance system, and other high-tech bells and whistles.

Now, everyone’s hopping on the smart-wagon 

In the past year, Warung Pintar grew from 12 to 1,150 carts — and it hopes to expand to 5k by year’s end. By subsidizing its tech-enabled carts, Warung Pintar is betting it will be able to monetize them down the road.

“Once we have built enough, we can manage the supply chain and then figure out how to make money,” Warung Pintar co-founder Willson Cuaca explained in a recent interview with TechCrunch.

But other Indonesian companies want a part of the cart: Billion-dollar Indonesian e-commerce giant Bukalapak raised $50m just last week to expand its offerings for street vendors.