Unicorn in the making
- 500-backed Carousell is moving closer to unicorn status after it raised US$80 million in a funding round led by South Korea’s Naver Corporation, bringing the company’s valuation at over US$900 million, according to The Straits Times.
- Naver Corp is the digital conglomerate behind the search engine Naver, often regarded as the “Google of South Korea”. Naver also owns and operates LINE, a messaging platform with 84 million active users.
- “We are excited to work closely with Naver, a leader in mobile services and has industry-leading credentials in advanced technologies, as we continue our focus on using technology to make selling and buying even simpler, effective and more inspiring,” said Quek Siu Rui, CEO and co-founder of Carousell.
- Launched in 2012, Carousell’s presence spans over eight markets across Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, offering products across categories, including cars, lifestyle, gadgets, and fashion accessories.
- Before Naver, it raised US$56 million from Naspers-owned OLX Group and acquired OLX Group’s Philippine operations in April last year.
- Then in November of the same year, it merged with 701Search, a classifieds firm owned by Norwegian telco Telenor, and was valued at more than US$850 million.
- Congrats on this remarkable achievement, team Carousell!
Fresh funds and an Impossible partnership
- abillionveg, the 500-backed community-driven review platform helping people across the world find and share insights on plant-based menu items, packaged foods and cruelty-free consumer products, has closed US$3 million in pre-Series A funding.
- Investors include Hong Kong’s Nan Fung Group, CloudKitchens, and York Capital. Twitter’s head of Asia-Pacific, Maya Hari, also invested and is acting as an advisor to the company.
- The fresh funds will be channelled into expanding its team based in Singapore, with a focus to attract engineering and product talent.
- Accompanying the funding announcement are partnerships forged with Impossible Foods to help market its meat alternatives to thousands of F&B establishments across Singapore.
- Chope, a restaurant booking platform, is also working closely with abillionveg to help Singaporeans select meat-free dishes at over 3,000 restaurants.
- Since launching two years ago, abillionveg’s community has reviewed over 20,000 consumer products brands and 35,000 restaurants worldwide.
- “We’re excited to welcome our new investors and work alongside Impossible Foods & Chope to accelerate our mission of helping a billion people around the world make better choices for the planet,” founder & CEO Vikas Garg of these new developments.
- Congrats, Vikas and the rest of the ABV team!
Snack for good
- When Walter Oh took the plunge by quitting his lucrative banking job to found a food startup, his parents, understandably, were not too pleased.
- However, Walter was adamant to not be trapped by golden handcuffs. And so, he and co-founder Andrew Lim started 500-backed BoxGreen in 2014, a one-stop shop for healthy snacking options with many varieties to pick from on their platform. Their snacks boast of all natural ingredients, is portion controlled, and nutritionist approved.
- Scaling BoxGreen came with its share of heartaches and hardships, though. At one point, Walter thought of throwing in the towel. But three “aunties” he had hired as packers stepped in, offering not just funds, but a new sense of purpose.
- “The three aunties have been with us from the beginning, so I found alternative employment for them at a place which actually paid more. I even took them there. They thought about it, but told me they didn’t want the job.
- “The next day, one of them offered us some funds to help us set up a proper facility. That was a turning point and although our business always had the “doing good” element, we decided it had to focus on a social mission,” Walter storied to The Straits Times in an interview.
- Today, the three aunties are shareholders and supervisors of a packing facility.
- BoxGreen is now supported by the DBS Foundation, which helps social enterprises scale up. It has since expanded to Malaysia.
- As a B-corp business — an entity which uses business for good — BoxGreen spends 60% of its expenses with local suppliers and employs ex-offenders as snack packers. Its open hiring policy welcomes former drug addicts, single mothers, and people with special needs.
- With 50 varieties of snacks and cold-pressed juices, BoxGreen supplies to more than 500 companies and 2,000 homes.
- “We’re not out to save the world. But as long as we make some lives better, we’re happy,” Walter said.
- You can read the full interview with Walter Oh of BoxGreen here.
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500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. In Southeast Asia, 500 Startups invests through the pioneering 500 Southeast Asia family of funds. The 500 Southeast Asia funds have backed over 240 companies across multiple sectors from internet to consumer to deep technology. It continues to connect founders with capital, expertise and powerful regional and global networks to help them succeed.
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