Press Release: Hyper-local Marketplace App Swapit Secures Follow Up Funding from Private Equity Investor

swapit-blog_leapWe’re proud to announce Swapit’s second investment from a private equity investor who brings a lot of domain knowledge to the table. Only 2 months ago we received investment from Aria Ventures.

We’re excited to grow our group of partners which not only provide capital, but also extensive domain knowledge and vast strategic experience in our markets.

Here is the official press release:

Leading Marketplace Platform Will Use Funds to Accelerate Growth.

HONG KONG, Feb. 22, 2016 – Swapit, the unique hyper-local marketplace for trading pre-loved items, announced today they have raised an undisclosed amount of funding from private equity investors. This follows the seed funding they had raised from Aria Ventures in December 2015. The financing will be used to fund Swapit’s continued market domination in Hong Kong, regional market expansion and for further investment in its proprietary technology platform.

“Swapit has shown fantastic growth over the past quarters and months and we are happy to see other investors following our lead investment.” said Kevin Kwong from Aria Ventures. “Patrick and the team are dedicated to bring their hyper-local marketplace to the broad masses and create a global market leader. Swapit is a great example of a Hong Kong startup, which has a global vision and executes perfectly on their roadmap while being based out of Asia’s world city Hong Kong.”

“This follow-up investment proves that our compelling vision for a hyper-local marketplace is being shared by many investors. We have been growing 100% month over month, over the past quarters and we are planning to accelerate that growth. With our current financing, we are well positioned to become the market leader in Hong Kong and across Asia Pacific.” said Patrick Kosiol, CEO of Swapit. “We’re excited to grow our group of partners which not only provide capital, but also extensive domain knowledge and vast strategic experience in our markets.”

Founded in 2015 in Hong Kong, Swapit operates a hyper-local mobile marketplace that brings together buyers and sellers, who are already nearby each other. By providing an exclusive real-time experience combined with their award-winning design, Swapit has already attracted thousands of traders across the territory. Furthermore, Swapit has been accepted into industry-leading accelerator programs, such as SoftLayer Catalyst, Microsoft BizSpark and Facebook’s FbStart, which provide access to over US$200,000 worth of products and services.

About Swapit

Swapit Limited is a technology-driven company that is revolutionizing the way people trade pre-loved and new goods in densely populated areas. Led by mobile entrepreneurs with a combined industry experience of over 40 years, Swapit is built from the ground-up, as a largely scalable business to ensure rapid growth and high margin revenue generation. By focusing on a superior customer experience, the Swapit team makes product decisions purely based on excelling customer happiness. For more information, visit: http://www.swapit.la

The Swapit logo is available at: http://press.swapit.la

About Aria Ventures

Aria Ventures, a division of The Aria Group, provides early stage seed funding to technology startups globally. Its mission is to find talented entrepreneurs with innovative ideas that have the potential to be a significant disruptive force in their respective industries.

The Aria Group is a Hong Kong-based family office with a multi-strategy investment platform and invests in various asset classes globally, including fixed income, equities, real estate, private equity and other alternative investments such as hedge funds. For more: http://www.ariagp.com/

A PDF version is available as well.

This press release can also be found on PRLOG at Hyper-local Marketplace App Swapit Secures Follow Up Funding from Private Equity Investor

 

Seed Round Fund Raising has Started for SWAPIT Hong Kong

swapit_marketing-dollarTwo days ago, we have officially started our fund raising process by reaching out to 25 interested parties. As there is a lot of confidentiality involved with this process, I won’t be able to share much of the details publicly. I do however, want to share our experience during this period as much as I can, while keeping confidential information, well confidential.

Long story short, I have sent out our updated Executive Summary and Pitch Deck to our potential investors. Some have provided great feedback and interest immediately, and others have promised to revert back to me within the next couple of days.

7 Follow Ups

swapit-blog_requestOf course, you should never wait too long for someone to get back to you. As an entrepreneur who is looking for funding, you’re basically a B2B sales person, but you’re selling your company, product and vision, instead of a service or a product. A lot of research had been done on sales techniques and in terms of “follow ups” a rather important statistical fact has emerged: It takes on average about 7 follow ups with a prospective party to sell a product or a service to that party. Of course, sales cycles are very different for enterprise products, consumer products and especially for fund raising. However, the main message to take away from this, is: Always follow up. Sometimes, the party you’re communicating with, is just busy and perhaps has forgotten about your message. Sometimes, they just didn’t understand your message at first glance and they deferred to process it to a later stage. Perhaps they have disregarded your message because they’re not interested right now. Doesn’t mean they might be interested later, right? Or perhaps the most silliest of all things happened: your email just went into their spam filter and they didn’t even get to read your message in the first place. There are so many possible reasons that do require a follow up on your side. So again, always follow up. My follow up schedule, for example, is about a week after I last contacted a person. So that’s what you can expect from me.

Experience in Raising Funds Successfully – and failing to execute

swapit-blog-interestsOf course, an executive summary and a pitch deck is by far not enough to provide to investors. You got to get down to the nuts and bolts and make sure your plan of going forward is rock solid. In the end, it is all about the alignment of capital to milestones.

Luckily, we have a bit of experience in fund raising. While we’ve done it once so far (all other companies were successfully bootstrapped) and the main work was done by our third co-founder at the time, we still have some resources we can look back to. This helps in getting the right papers done, covering the important topics. Back in 2012, we had this crazy startup called TreeCrunch, which did natural language processing of answers to open-ended questions. The founders funded the company with a significant amount, we got some grants from some organizations locally and we raised a pre-seed round of about USD $100,000. We have made a lot of mistakes in that process; especially at the time of running the company. We probably asked for too little in terms of funding and after that round, we didn’t continue to raise funds early enough. At the same time, our product and service roll-out was delayed and our customer acquisition funnel was not very successful in turning 30 mostly Fortune500 trial customers into paying customers. Thus, TreeCrunch ran out of money and had to cease operations. Lessons learned: raise enough and make sure to offset your cashburn as early as possible by generating revenue.

Why We Raise

Let’s fast forward 3 years and get back to swapit today. We have learned our lessons from that failure – and I am happy to tell anyone more about that and others over a beer. Now it is about time to get swapit kickstarted.

swapit_marketing-chart-growSwapit is essentially a marketplace app. Every marketplace lives from its marketplace liquidity, i.e. surpass the critical mass of demand and supply. We are at the forefront of marketplaces for pre-loved items in Hong Kong and our technological approach is superior to all of our competitors, regionally and internationally. Yet, that all does not matter if there is no liquid marketplace with active trades happening. We have worked hard to get to the point where we are right now and we are coping well with the ever increasing numbers of traders and transactions.

In order to continue growing at an exponential rate, we need to invest heavily in our marketplace liquidity. That includes fostering and nurturing our community of existing traders as well as attracting new traders to our platform. Therefore, we are planning to spend roughly 75% of the amount we are raising on building that marketplace community. This includes attending & sponsoring events, exhibitions, running events ourselves, attend & exhibit at street markets, as well as general marketing efforts like advertising (mobile, social, offline, print) and merchandise. All that is coupled with incentives to socially share their engagement with swapit and spread the word virally across different social media to their social circles.

Furthermore, swapit is currently Android-only, by choice. While the majority of our target audience are Android users, we do also have a large audience of interested folks who have an iPhone / iPad. Thus, roughly 20% of the funds we raise will go towards creating an iOS app.

swapit-blog_leapThese combined efforts entirely focus on capturing the Hong Kong market to its fullest extend. We believe, the funds will be sufficient to achieve those goals and be the dominant marketplace for pre-loved items in Hong Kong. To accomplish that we need to stop walking and start running. Running fast! Perhaps you’d like to take that leap together with us?

Interested to know more about our funding round?
Send me an email to patrick@swapit.la and I am happy to send you some details directly.

Haven’t tried swapit yet? Download it from http://get.swapit.la

Recap: TechInAsia 2015 Singapore Conference – Feedback and Investors

swapit-blog_techinasiaAs mentioned before, swapit was present at TechInAsia with its very own booth.

I did not expect much from the conference. As swapit is currently available in Hong Kong only, we could not really reach out to new users because the TechInAsia conference took place in Singapore. We also couldn’t spend much on this conference (in fact, we don’t actually have any marketing budget for this), but to our advantage, we received the booth for free at the conference. It’s probably just a conference marketing perk to encourage startups to actually exhibit there, but it sold me. So I went over to Singapore by myself, the swapit pull up banner in hand and set up shop there.

Conference Goals

As we weren’t looking to recruit new users for swapit, our two main goals for the conference were:

  1. Get Feedback
  2. Talk to (potential) Investors

In terms of feedback, Singapore was the best place to go. Carousell, probably the most prominent competitor in the region has its home base in Singapore. (I will soon write a blog post about our competitors – watch out for it!) So many folks in Singapore were familiar with the concept of buy & sell apps for pre-loved items, which means they got me right away when I said: “Swapit is like Carousell, but better.” (read The idea behind swapit) Therefore, many people could quickly get the advantages swapit offers and whether or not they make sense to them. Hence, we received a lot of great feedback – very positive feedback directly on our approach, but also a lot of suggestions and different takes on the buy and sell market for second hand items. All that feedback will find its way into our next betas! So our goal of getting valuable first-hand feedback was achieved within a few hours of exhibiting.

In terms of talking to investors, I did not expect much actually. Being based in Hong Kong means you are not expecting much there — but that’s a different story. In fact, I was very surprised that there was a good crowd of investors present in Singapore, but not necessarily based in Singapore. They were very keen on talking numbers, vision, mission and market penetration. Obviously, I was happy to tell our story. I came prepared with a more refined pitch deck (thanks to our pitches, pitches, pitches, pitches, pitches before) and an updated executive summary to move things forward. We have now advanced to the next state. Once we close our current funding round, we will announce it here on our blog. If you’re interested to know more, feel free to reach out to me directly at patrick@swapit.la. So again, our goal of getting to talk to investors was more than satisfied.

In short: The trip to TechInAsia Singapore was well worth it!

Here are some impressions from before and a bit during the conference. There is no photo with myself on it. As soon as the doors opened, I was completely occupied for the whole day and didn’t even have enough time to grab a coffee in between or check emails. So there are no photos with actual people on our booth, but I guess you get the idea.

P.S.: Congrats to Hong Kong’s Easyship who won the pitch competition. We did not participate in that, though.