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Computer vision startup ViSenze has raised series B round of funding worth $10.5 million, reports Tech in Asia.

The round is led by existing investor Rakuten Ventures, Rakuten’s investment arm. It was also co-led by WI Harper Group, which specializes in cross-border investments between the US and China, and early-stage venture capital firm Enspire Capital.

Oliver Tan, ViSenze co-founder and CEO points out how rare it is these days to raise series B, as not a lot of players in Singapore writes these checks.

Oliver attributes investor interest to the startup’s tech and the traction it has achieved in the last couple of years.

It’s one thing to have cool technology, but you also have to show it translates to a product that solves problems and that clients are willing to pay money for.

What does ViSenze do?

ViSenze builds visual search and image recognition software, specializing in ecommerce and retail applications. Its tech combines computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to provide image-based search and item recommendations.

The company’s tech is used by ecommerce providers in several markets like Rakuten, Lazada, British fashion marketplace Asos, Indian fashion e-tailer Myntra and Flipkart.

The company says its revenue has grown more than 300% year on year. Oliver declines to provide specifics, but states that search volume increased tenfold in the last year compared to the previous one.

Funding money put to use

The funding will enable ViSenze to build up its research and development team, in order to increase its scale and capacity to deal with global search volumes.

ViSenze is working toward new applications of its technology, including visual recognition search on video – which is in prototype stage for now.

The team will open more international offices. Headquartered in Singapore, it also has an office in San Francisco. It wants to add London, India, and China to that list. “China is a very different market, our strategy is more driven by partnerships, but our long term goal is to build market presence through local tie-up.”

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on September 15. Read the full version here

Singaporean e-marketplace Carousell, announced a $35 million in series B funding today. The investment is lead by Rakuten Ventures, with Sequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures, and 500 Startups also contributing some of the cash.

The Singapore-based team has already taken the app, which blends new and used items sort of like a classified listings site except that it’s all done in a streamlined mobile app, to six other locations. The latest is Hong Kong.

“A big part of this round will be just accelerating our international expansion,” says Siu Rui Quek, Carousell’s CEO, speaking over Skype from the startup’s HQ.

Carousell’s birth story

From the way Siu Rui Quek describes it, you know his startup hasn’t produced the usual kind of shopping app. He talks of the community, of users staying up well past midnight browsing the new stuff that flies in, of people using it each day for even longer than Instagram. He doesn’t compare it to Amazon.

The three co-founders set up Carousell in 2012, but its genesis goes back a year earlier to when the friends went to Silicon Valley to serve as tech interns while squeezing in some classes at Stanford.

Once back in Singapore, they went to a Startup Weekend event and came up with the bare bones of what would later become the shopping app based on issues they themselves faced when trying to sell odds-and-ends on the web. The trio won the event, but that wasn’t what persuaded them to build it into a business, Siu Rui says.

“The biggest motivation was having people tweet us, like our Facebook page, saying they really want to use this for themselves. So that really gave us the confidence to take it forward.”

Now with 35 million product listings put up by its community, the team is coy about revealing the number of active users. Siu Rui concedes it’s not pulling in a profit, but that’s because the crew is focusing on growing its user base rather than implementing some things they have in mind, like premium listings or some other paid services.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on August 2. Read full story here