Taiwan's FunNow to expand in SE Asia, Japan after new funding

August 16, 2018 11:16
FunNow executives pose for a group picture. The Taipei-based instant booking app for entertainment and leisure activities currently has 500,000 registered members. Photo: FunNow

FunNow, a Taiwan-based startup that offers instant booking services for entertainment and leisure activities, has completed a US$5 million (around HK$39 million) series A funding round as it seeks to enter new markets in Asia.

The latest funding round was led by Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, with CDIB Captial, Darwin Ventures and Accuvest Global Advisors as other investors, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

FunNow has, to date, raised US$6.5 million (around HK$50.7 million), including a US$1.5 million pre-Series A funding in July last year.

Co-founder and chief executive Chen Ting-kuan said the fresh capital will be used for business development in Southeast Asia and Japan.

Alibaba invested in the firm as the e-commerce giant seeks to step up its online-to-offline (O2O) offerings, TechCrunch noted.

Though FunNow has drawn comparisons with Klook and KKday in relation to marketing strategy, Chen argues that his firm differentiates itself by focusing on local travel experiences, highlighting features such as last-minute hotel bookings.

Klook is a Hong Kong-based booking platform for in-destination services, while KKday is a Taiwan-based booking platform.

FunNow is also aiming at spontaneous consumers, Chen said, noting that most of the bookings on the platform are from people making last-minute reservations.

The user engagement of the startup is high, wiith 70 percent of the gross merchandise volume each month accounted for by continuing customers, Chen said.

According to Chen, almost 80 percent of the instant bookings are for activities in the upcoming hour.

The startup operates like Uber, but in this case providing services such as booking restaurants, massages, hotels or other types of activities, Chen noted.

If Klook, KKday or other instant booking apps for tourists plan to start serving locals, this may pose a potential challenge to FunNow.

Chen believes such startups will keep focusing on the expanding the tourist market and demand for half-day or all-day tours.

If other platforms wish to cut into the action, the entities need to first find their vendors one by one and "deploy strong systems to the merchant side," TechCrunch quoted Chen as saying. 

“However, once merchants use our system, it’s unlikely for them to use two systems to control availability, because you’d need to update all of them to avoid overbooking,” Chen said.

Established in 2015, FunNow currently has 500,000 registered members, aged between 25 and 35. The company partners with 3,000 vendors, offering more than 20,000 services and activities including accommodation, spa service, restaurants and bars.

The startup plans to expand to markets including Hong Kong, Okinawa, Osaka and Tokyo. It expects to generate revenue of US$16 million this year, three times what it recorded in 2017.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 15

Translation by Jonathan Chong with additional reporting

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FunNow has raised fresh funds to support business development plans in Southeast Asia and Japan. Photo: FunNow

Hong Kong Economic Journal