Meal delivery site Foodpanda arrives in Hong Kong, its fourteenth market in Asia

hong kong food

Foodpanda, the meal delivery service born out of Berlin-based Rocket Internet, announced today it has officially launched in Hong Kong. The coastal city marks the company’s fourteenth destination in Asia, and its forty-fifth destination worldwide.

Foodpanda’s entrance in Hong Kong pits it against Delivery.com – the venture-backed, NYC-based startup launched local service in Hong Kong last April. That company’s site, however, only features 34 merchant listings. Foodpanda, which has operated in stealth in Hong Kong since May, claims to have more than 100 listings. Other competitors in the space include local players like Koziness, which recently acquired Dial-a-Dinner and Soho Delivery, along with any other company that optimizes its SEO for search terms like “Hong Kong Food Delivery.”

Success rates for Rocket Internet ventures tend to vary wildly market-by-market and company-by-company. The self-proclaimed incubator has pushed Foodpanda aggressively around the world, going so far as to acquire competitors in Russia, Hungary, and Brazil. Rocket’s bull bet on food delivery perhaps explains it’s relatively delayed entrance into Hong Kong, where it will rest alongside just two other Rocket ventures: taxi app Easy Taxi and property listing site Wimdu.

-Courtesy: Techinasia

 

Amazon’s Master Of Commerce Move Into The Phone Game

Mobile is so 2010. So why would Amazon throw its hat into the game of phones?

That’s the thing — it didn’t. The company is headed into battle in two other markets full of potential: real-world commerce and digital advertising.

Amazon has focused its business almost solely on e-commerce since its launch in 1994. Twenty years later, the vast majority of commerce still takes place in the physical world; a 2014 Q1 US Census report shows that digital sales account for just 6 percent of total sales.

So, if 94 percent of sales still happens in the real world, how does Amazon conquer this territory? It introduces a phone.

The Fire Phone can recognize a physical object, scan a bar code, and quickly provide you with Amazon’s prices, taking showrooming to a whole new level. And then, the company is able to unlock that other 94 percent of commerce spend that it previously couldn’t touch.

Should retailers be shaking in their proverbial boots? Probably.

With an active user base of 244 million, Amazon has become a trusted provider of goods. Now, those who trust the company already can buy an Amazon phone that makes it even easier to find what they want and order it with a couple of clicks. Even if just 10 percent of active users buy a Fire, that’s still 24 million people who will have access to Amazon’s low prices, vast inventory, and shipping.

But real-world commerce isn’t the only new frontier for Amazon; the Fire Phone unlocks mobile advertising opportunities for the company, making it the third viable player in the thriving space, along with Google and Facebook.

In 2014, mobile advertising in the U.S. will total $17.73 billion and reach over $35 billion by 2017, eclipsing online advertising spend, according to analysis from eMarketer. Google and Facebook combined took home over two-thirds of mobile ad spending last year. Now, Amazon could give these two companies stiff competition due to its customer relationships and new features on its phone that aren’t available on Apple or Android devices. Amazon becomes the third major player with a mobile device tied to an immense database of browsing and past purchase data.

With this phone, Amazon is able to do exactly the same thing as Google and Facebook: utilize customer identities and interest to bring targeted mobile ads to them on their phones. But Amazon has a distinct advantage: Its users have already bought something from them! As a result, the company is even better-equipped than other companies to use past purchase data to send highly tailored mobile ads to consumers. Amazon will be able to guarantee brands a pre-qualified, “in-market” audience. Who else can do that?

In his demo of the Fire, Bezos made the real-world connections for the phone absolutely apparent, talking about how easy it is to walk down the street and use Firefly to recognize signs, goods, etc. This feature opens up so many doors: the ability to recognize places in the real world, to search for things you want based on what Amazon knows you are interested in, and the ability for Amazon to harness that data for more relevant recommendations.

In effect, the Fire could provide an understanding of the physical world and merchant locations and, when combined with everything else Amazon knows about a user, actually deliver on the promise of “Marketing that consumers find really valuable, not intrusive.” Now imagine that they start pushing you the occasional recommendation when you’re near a physical store. Imagine you can get a reminder for something you have scanned when you’re near a place to buy it, with Amazon taking its cut for driving that real-world transaction. That massively changes the game of mobile marketing.

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, discussed the real impact of the Fire Phone with the New York Times: “Scan a product or listen to music, and you’re delivered straight to the page on Amazon on which you can purchase it. Impulse shopping just went to a new level.”

Amazon is not in the mobile business, the phone business or the Internet of things business. And while analysts appear divided on the short- and long-term impact of the Fire for Amazon’s overall business model, they should agree on one point: Bezos and Co. are the masters of the commerce business, and the Fire Phone is just one tool that can be used to help it gain its slice of the immense cash flow happening not online, but on Main Street.

I would even go so far as to say that the Fire Phone will be key to the Amazon growth strategy for the next 50 years. Congratulations, Mr. Bezos. Well played. The only thing I am wondering is, Why isn’t the phone free?

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

Crowdfunding Growing at a Startling Rate, New Report Says

Enlist Twitter for Crowdfunding Success

But as with any fledgling industry moving towards maturity, more and more data has started to appear that makes answering these questions a bit easier. One recent mountain of data on the crowdfunding world that just arrived contains a plethora of information — read on as I distill some of it for you.

Barry James and his team at The Crowd Data Center recently released eFunding & The State of The Crowdfunding Nation, a report (which can be purchased for $49) that studied more than 75,000 crowdfunding campaigns for the first quarter of 2014. The report provides a wealth of information about both rewards-based and equity-crowdfunding campaigns. It puts crowdfunding into a whole new perspective.

Those of us in the industry already knew how profoundly the crowdfunding explosion had affected society. But the report puts it into perspective, and one particular fact truly illustrates the explosive nature of the burgeoning industry. Gordon Moore, one of Intel’s founders, coined Moore’s Law that predicted computing power would grow exponentially for the foreseeable future, doubling every 18 to 24 months.

According to the eFunding report, crowdfunding on a global basis is doubling at nearly 10 times the rate of Moore’s Law.

The report and the infographics accompanying it offer insights into what is happening in crowdfunding worldwide by drawing on a continuous influx of data from live crowdfunding campaigns as well as studying the major funding platforms, pledges and patterns of donors and investors during the first quarter of 2014. Here are some interesting facts and numbers about the global effect of crowdfunding from the eFundingreport:

  • More than $57,000 is pledged to a crowdfunding campaign somewhere in the world every hour of every day.
  • The five most popular categories of successful crowdfunding campaigns are gaming, technology, design, film and music.
  • Rewards-based campaigns on Kickstarter successfully fund 42.8 percent of the time. On Indiegogo, the success rate is 14.4 percent.
  • The average number of backers of a successful Kickstarter campaign is 255.
  • An average of 325 new crowdfunding campaigns launch every day.

These tidbits of information are a great resource for anyone who is looking to crowdfund. For example, being able to look at the statistics that are now available allows interested crowdfunders to know which platforms work and how well. James and his crew are constantly updating the site with more and more research. The site has search tools that let anyone answer almost any data-driven question about crowdfunding, questions that are crucial when someone is considering, planning and launching a campaign.

Until now, getting answers to these could take hours or days of research on many different platforms, trying to compare apples to oranges.

As someone experienced with the field, not only can I now find promising crowdfunding rising stars or rocketing campaigns far before they’ve become obvious to the world, but I can do so by mining the live-data (registration is required) on active campaigns on a daily or even hourly basis. The site’s analytics can also be used to dig deeper into the data for emerging trends.

While traditionally, investing has been a very closed world with information closely guarded and available at a premium, if at all, one of the things I love about crowdfunding that’s transformative is its openness and transparency. Having data such as this available will assist investors and entrepreneurs as the crowdfunding world booms when equity crowdfunding under Title III of the JOBS Act soon becomes a reality.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

India’s flash sales startup FashionAndYou raises $10 million

India’s flash sales startup FashionAndYou raises $10 million

India’s flash sales startup FashionAndYou has raised $10 million in funding from new and existing investors. This includes Sequoia Capital, Smile Group, Norwest Venture Partners, Intel Capital and Nokia Growth Partners.

This comes a lengthy two and half years after FashionAndYou raised $40 million in series B funding, on top of the $8 million it attracted in 2010.

This fresh funding goes into strengthening the estore’s technology, attracting more customers, and increasing sales.

The startup is facing ever stronger competition in this online fashion shopping sector from Myntra and Rocket Internet’s Jabong

. Specializing in men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and home decor, FashionAndYou offers 15 new daily sales wherein users get the chance to buy items from top brands at discounted prices. The startup recently claimed it reached 5.5 million members.

Aasheesh Mediratta, FashionAndYou’s CEO, said in a statement today:

“We have overcome a challenging phase in the last year and streamlined operations resulting in a lean and efficient organisation. The new funds will help strengthen the technology behind our inventory light business model, acquire more customers to bolster our flash sales dominance, and build a more cohesive brand.”

Women shoppers account for 70 percent of sales on FashionAndYou and it’s anticipated this figure will go up. Industry estimates suggest that woman will drive growth in online shopping in the country; spending by female eshoppers is expected to grow by a factor of six in the next three years, outpacing the general growth of ecommerce expenditure in India.

India’s eshoppers spent $16 billion last year.

-Courtesy: Techinasia

Kickstarter Simplifies Its Rules And Lowers The Barrier For Project Acceptance

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter, which has almost become the ‘Kleenex’ of the crowd-sourced funding world in terms of brand recognition, today unveiled two changes to its business model (via The Verge) that will have a huge impact on non-equity crowdfunding in general and on its main rival Indiegogo. Basically, Kickstarter is simplifying its rules and relaxing the barriers for entry, even introducing a “Launch Now” feature that allows project creators to bypass the network’s approval process entirely.

That means that what you see on Kickstarter is no longer necessarily vetted for feasibility or content standards – which means fewer guarantees that hardware projects, which typically have a low incidence of success anyway, will ever make it to market. But Kickstarter appears to have decided to stop fighting the tide and go with the flow; now it can unapologetically embrace its role as a community-driven mechanism for investing in ideas, instead of even pretending in any way to be a pre-order store for devices.

Kickstarter has also trimmed its rules for creators document, cutting it by over two-thirds from 1,000 words down to 300, and previously banned campaign types including bath and beauty projects, as well as multiple reward items for hardware projects are now allowed. Non-developers can offer app projects, too, though charities, GMOs and photo-style renderings that might mislead people into believing a graphic is a photo are still off-limits, the Verge reports.

Approvals for projects are now done algorithmically, instead of employing human moderators initially, and if they pass that process (which can take as few as five minutes) they’re free to go live. It’s a very different take on crowdfunding to the one Kickstarter initially espoused, and one that in many respects deemphasizes community and instead puts the focus on growth. It’s not quite Indiegogo’s stance of neutral network operator, but it’s much closer to that vision, and it means we should see a whole host of new projects on the site that we’d never have seen before.

For creators, this is obviously good news. I’ve spoken to many who have been frustrating at the Kickstarter approval process and had their enthusiasm bogged by subtleties in the rules that prevented them from launching. Many of these would decamp to Indiegogo as a result. But it could also be an issue for the network long-term – if overall quality takes a hit, that might ultimately affect any single project’s chances of success. Discovery could also become a problem as the projects ranks swell.

Kickstarter has clearly evaded the risk of the backer community souring based on frustration and failed projects however; it’s been 5 years since it launched, and so far, it continues to attract backers and churn out successful campaigns. It’s a new type of beast, and half a decade has been time enough for its users to become accustomed to its identity as not-quite-store but not-quite-charity.

This also presents an opportunity for other startups looking for ways to embrace the crowdfunding trend – less editorial oversight by Kickstarter itself means users will be looking elsewhere for a filter for the network, for curation and for alternate models. Kickstarter may become the Amazon of crowdfunding, but there’s still room for boutique stores, Pinterests and  Shopifys in the space, too.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

Korean ecommerce giant Coupang nabs $100M in funding from Sequoia Capital

coupang logo

Coupang, the rapidly-growing Seoul-based ecommerce startup, announced this morning it raised US$100 million in an investment led by Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Sequoia Heritage. The funding will be used to help the company continue its quest to clinch Korea’s online shopping market.

“With the support of Sequoia and this round, we can go even further in our quest to differentiate the end-to-end experience for our customers,” said Coupang CEO and founder Bon Kim in a statement. “Most purchases are now made via mobile and can be delivered same-day or next-day. We aim to continue to create captivating experiences.”

As its name indicates, Coupang originated as one of the many Groupon-inspired startups that emerged globally after that Chicago-based company shook up the US retail market with its group buying schemes. Whereas many of those startups quickly went out of business, Coupang pivoted towards traditional ecommerce of the Amazon-esque strain in order to stay afloat. This worked to Kim’s advantage, since South Korea lacked an all-in-one online shopping site despite containing a tech-savvy and relatively wealthy populace of about 50 million residents. Now, three years after it was founded, the company generates US$1 billion in annual gross merchandise volume, thereby placing it alongside India’s Flipkart, China’s JD.com, and Southeast Asia’s Lazada

-Courtesy: Techinasia

Payments Firm Swipely Raises $20M More As Its Processing Tally Crosses The $2B Mark

Payments company Swipely has announced that it raised a Series C round totaling $20 million. This round, led by the Pritzker Group and including previous investors Shasta Ventures and First Round Capital, brings the company’s tally to more than $40 million.

Swipely had recently announced that its payment processing rate had doubled to $2 billion on an annual basis, but declined to tell TechCrunch at the time if it was pursuing more capital. As it turns out, and as this publication presumed, it was in the process of nailing down the Series C. The company’s revenue tracks up with its payment-processing rate, so to see it double that figure from $1 billion to $2 billion in under a year implies quick top-line growth.

Competitor Square is processing around 15 times as much, or in the neighborhood of $30 billion.

Swipely CEO Angus Davis declined to discuss a solid growth expectation for the company’s processing rate, but he did tell me that companies growing at more than 50 percent yearly can be described as going through a period of hyper-growth, and that his firm is growing more quickly than that. Davis is known for his work at TellMe, which sold to Microsoft for around $800 million.

Davis also told TechCrunch that Swipely’s lifetime customer value (LTV) compared to its customer acquisition cost (CAC) was “well in excess” of three, a standard industry threshold. LTV to CAC is a SaaS firm metric that is widely cited. It implies that a company is generating more than thrice the cost of acquiring a new customer in top line. That excess revenue then covers other corporate costs. If your ratio is less than three — or more 0.33, if you flip the numerator and denominator, of course — your growth as a firm can be viewed as a combination of being inefficient and too expensive.

The company intended to raise between $15 million and $20 million for marketing and product expansion.

I also asked the firm about its views on Square’s recent move into loaning clients money for expansion purposes. Swipely, Davis told TechCrunch, already does that in some capacity, using third-party support. The company, if I had to infer, doesn’t view the effort as a core part of its business, but one that it could expand.

Square’s financials, recently disclosed, indicate that the company’s gross profit margin is a pressure point. Moving up the value stack — loans could supply such incomes — will therefore be attractive to market participants.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

Spotify, GoPro, and Airbnb Lit Up Social Media Last Week

A handful of startups made headlines that caused their social media mentions to spike during the week of May 18 through May 24, according to data collected for Inc. by social intelligence company Synthesio.

Synthesio measures the number of times 25 top tech CEOs and 25 prominent startups are mentioned on Twitter and other social networks, as well as in blogs and news site comments. Here are the startups that really got people buzzing:

Spotify 

On May 21, the music streaming service announced that it hit 10 million subscribers and 40 million active users. Following the news of the milestone, fans took to Twitter and other social platforms; on May 22, Spotify was mentioned 41,602 times, compared to an average of just over 26,100 mentions over the full seven-day period. 

Airbnb

The apartment-sharing startup peaked on social on May 21, when it came to an agreement to hand over renter data to New York City’s law enforcement officials. The city plans to use the information to identify hosts that are violating city laws by renting out large blocks of rooms through Airbnb. The conclusion of the yearlong dispute accounted for a large portion of the 5,714 mentions of Airbnb on social media that day– more than double the number of mentions the day before. 

GoPro

On May 19, the action camera company filed for a $100 million IPO. The news of GoPro’s S-1 filing, while not unexpected, generated a large amount of discussion on social. There were 17,281 mentions of the company on May 20, an increase of more than 7,000 social mentions overnight. 

Other Notables

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk also saw spikes in social activity during the week. Nadella was mentioned 2,097 times on May 20, the day his company unveiled the Surface Pro 3 tablet, up from 409 mentions the previous day. Musk, who consistently has been one of the leaders in social mentions among the tech CEOs Synthesio tracks, had his spike on May 23, with 5,046 mentions–more than double his weekly average. This surge followed a series of tweets that Musk himself sent in which he claimed that SpaceX didn’t get a Department of Defense contract because he didn’t hire Roger Correll, the person who awarded the contract.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Flipkart raises $210 million one week after acquring India’s biggest online apparel store

flipkart myntra

Just one week after acquiring India’s biggest fashion and apparel estore Myntra, the country’s biggest online marketplace Flipkart has raised US$210 million in funding.

The investment is led by Russia’s DST Global, followed by existing investors Tiger Global, Naspers, and Iconiq Capital, according to NextBigWhat.

This bring’s Flipkart’s total funding to date to US$750 million, the highest of any Indian startup. It’s previous round closed out at US$360 million in October.

Flipkart last week confirmed an estimated US$341 million deal to acquire Myntra, which will continue to operate as a separate entity. Shortly thereafter, Flipkart’s biggest competitor, eBay-backed Snapedeal, secured a US$100 million investment.

Flipkart has sold over US$1 billion worth of goods since it launched in 2007. It has 18 million registered users, 3,000 vendors, and receives 3.5 million daily visits.

-Courtesy: Techinsasia

 

Indian E-Commerce Site Snapdeal Raises Another $100M From BlackRock And Others

Snapdeal, one of the larger online e-commerce companies in India, has raised $100 million from Temasek, BlackRock, Myriad, Premji Invest and Tybourne. This follows a $133 millionround of funding from marketplace giant eBay, Bessemer Venture Partners and others that was just announced three months ago. This brings Snapdeal’s total funding to over $400 million.

The e-commerce market in India has been exploding, thanks to the rapid rapid rise of online consumers and global investors eager to get a piece of the action. India’s e-commerce market is projected to grow sevenfold to $22 billion in the next five years, as Internet infrastructure improves further, making it easier for the country’s nearly 200 million online population to shop on-the-go. The country’s e-commerce market is currently worth $3.1 billion annually.

Snapdeal also recently acquired fashion products discovery site Doozton in April. We hear the funding will be used towards new acquisitions as well.

“We see this financing round as another endorsement of Snapdeal’s differentiated strategy and progress as India’s largest online marketplace. We are pleased to welcome several marquee global investors as our partners and believe their association will contribute to Snapdeal’s long-term success. Our mobile and internet commerce marketplace is now connecting millions of buyers to a very large base of sellers that offer products and services of national and international brands. We will continue to focus on creating life changing experiences for the buyers as well as sellers in the Snapdeal ecosystem.” said Snapdeal co-founder and CEO Kunal Bahl in a release.

This funding news comes amidst the acquisition reports between Flipkart  and Myntra. According to these reports, India’s largest retailer, Flipkart, is set to buy Myntra in a deal worth $330 million.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch