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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Germany’s Hubert Burda Media to fix Southeast Asia’s series B funding gap

What is Hubert Burda? The print and online media company employs over 10,000 people globally and reported a revenue of $2.35 billion in 2015.

The firm’s investment arm, Burda Principal Investments, has started a dedicated investment team in Singapore.

The company’s priority is to foster more successful exits for startups in the region.

Deal sizes will be flexible but the company is looking for an average of US$5 million per deal. So far, BPI’s investments in Southeast Asia haven’t focused on specific verticals, but will focus on the B2C segment.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Android users, you can now send and request money via Gmail

Users of the Gmail app on Android will be able to send or request money with anyone, including those who don’t have a Gmail address, with just a tap.

Source: Techcrunch

The user experience has been designed to make exchanging money as easy as attaching a file

The entire experience takes place on the Gmail app, and the user can simply tap the attachment icon, choose either “send” or “request” money. A pop-up window appears and the user can input the amount, add a note and simply press send.

This could be useful for those times where the money is already a topic of an email conversation, for example, planning a vacation. Currently available only in the US.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Another US brick and mortar staple feels the ecommerce effect

It’s currently tough times for Urban Outfitters. Amid a bout of sales turmoil, the company has been removed from the stock market index, S&P 500. Last week, Urban Outfitters released a disappointing quarterly earnings report.

Lagging sales at brick and mortar locations have prompted Urban Outfitters to focus more and more on online retailing.

Sales over the internet increased at a double-digit pace last quarter, but that news isn’t actually as good as it sounds. High delivery expenses and other logistical costs have eaten into the company’s profits.

Slumping store sales, a problem that retailers in general are dealing with, seem to be causing the company’s biggest problems.

Read the rest of the story here.

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

Omise, a Bangkok-based payment enabler much like Stripe, has raised a $17.5 million Series B round to expand its reach across Southeast Asia, reports TechCrunch.

The company proves a payment gateway system that allows any retailer take credit card payments online. Omise isn’t releasing any figures for its business but Harinsut said the company can reach profitability inside the the next year.

The company offers its service in Thailand and Japan (the birthplace of CEO Jun Hasegawa), but there are plans to expand to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, where it has carried out closed testing.

Omise funding history

This new round, which is one of the largest for a fintech company in Southeast Asia to date, was led by Japan-based SBI Investment, with participation from Sinar Mas Digital Ventures (SMDV) in Indonesia, Thailand’s Ascend Money (affiliated with mobile operator True), and existing backer Golden Gate Ventures. Omise has now raised over $25 million, including a $2.6 million Series A in May 2015 andundisclosed round from Golden Gate Ventures last October, right after the Singapore-based VC firm announced a new $50 million fund.

Competitive e-payment market

There are many rivals, including 2C2P which raised $7 million last year and ispowering a social commerce trial with Facebook. Stripe, meanwhile, is in the region, but it appears to be working on creating demand in the U.S. from overseas via its Atlas project, rather than going for a full-on localization approach.

Unlike its local competitors, Omise is solely focused on digital payments and not cash.

Around 60% of payments online right now in Southeast Asia.

He explained that the challenge is about reaching suitable scale. Omise makes its money by charging 3.65% on transactions, with a one dollar fee for up to $60,000 (1 million THB) withdrawn, but it offers flexible packages for larger customer.

A version of this appeared in TechCrunch on July 21. Find the original version here.

aCommerce, a Bangkok-based startup that helps ecommerce companies in Southeast Asia run their businesses, has landed $10 million in new funding ahead of a planned Series B raise later this year. TechCrunch reports the latest raise is led by MDI Ventures — a fund associated with mobile operator Telkom Indonesia — with participation from Australia-based fund Blue Sky and existing backer, Switzerland-based market expansion firm DKSH.

Already $50 million raised

The ecommerce enabler was founded in 2013 and has now raised closed to $50 million from investors, including a $10.7 million Series A in June 2014 and a $5 million bridge round last May, alongside today’s reveal and the DKSH injection.

aCommerce Group CEO Paul Srivorakul comments,

“We want to get maximum valuation with minimal dilution.”

Talking up his new backers, Srivorakul said that MDI Ventures could be hugely strategic in Indonesia, which recently overtook Thailand as the startup’s largest revenue generator.

aCommerce said it still has money in the bank but wants to spend to grow to secure a more favorable raise. Specifically, it plans to expand its business to Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore. aCommerce expansion to Singapore will see it reenter the country having previously exited in 2014 due to oversaturated market.

A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on July 19. Read the full version here.