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Main Feature Marketing APAC

Top Stories for March: Social commerce startup in PH comes out on top

This month of March, we had a lot of great developments in marketing, tech, and commerce in the region that made it to the headlines. 

A social commerce startup co-founded by a fixture in the business sector in the Philippines has recently secured funding to move to q-commerce. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, a startup that is an AI-powered self-service platform for marketing insights has also bagged considerable funding.

In the area of communications, one of the leading PR agencies in the region has just named a new creative chief that would take the charge of the Taiwan, Thailand, and Hong Kong markets. Meanwhile, an AI and data company in Asia has just named the leader that would helm its operations in the Philippines. 

Learn more about them here.

Top 4: Malaysian consumer research startup Vase.ai bags 7-figure RM funding

Malaysian consumer research startup Vase.ai secures 7-figure RM funding

To kick off our Top Stories for the month, we have Vase Technologies or Vase.ai in Malaysia announcing their seven-figure Ringgit investment from a funding round spearheaded by Indelible Ventures. The newly-secured capital will be used to jumpstart their 2022 expansion.

In an interview with MARKETECH APAC, Julie Ng, CEO and co-founder of Vase.ai, shared her insights on which area of marketing it’s crucial for brands to have good market research, saying that there are two particular areas.

“We usually advise to look into [these] two areas first. Number one, look into their brand. We have smaller companies come to us and say – I don’t really have a brand. That’s not true. Every company has a brand. If you are a smaller brand, you have to build it into a bigger brand. First thing you have to do is to know where your brand currently is. What’s its status and how many people are aware of the brand,” Ng said.

On the second thing, advertisements. 

“Second [thing], we usually let the client choose, they should either look into their advertisement, and to research whether their advertisement is working because [it] is basically the way for us to get into new customers,” Ng adds.

Top 3: ADVANCE.AI names Michael Calma as country manager for PH 

ADVANCE-AI-Michael-Calma

ADVANCE.AI, the big data and AI company in Asia, has recently named its country manager for the Philippines, industry veteran Michael Calma.

In an interview with Calma, he shared that the company aims to focus on the financial services industry which includes banks, crypto, and even non-banking financial institutions. 

“We looked at the typical customer journey, and identified the friction points, and [also] identified the points there might be security breaches, and then we built our solutions to address those points,” said Calma.

Calma shared that as a fundamental step, they have trained their AI to recognize the slew of Philippines IDs used when consumers apply for banking services. 

He also shared his insights on the growing space of cryptocurrency in the market, which he said is able to have mass adoption through two things: utility and security. 

“Utility means that normal people will have an actual use of that cryptocurrency, and we’ve seen that in play-to-earn…crypto needs to be secure, the channels that offer you access to crypto need to be secure for it to have mass adoption,” said Calma. 

Top 2: Former Ogilvy exec John Koay joins Edelman as regional ECD

Edelman-John-Koay

Landing on Top 2 is the appointment of John Koay, formerly of Ogilvy, as the new regional executive creative director (ECD) in Edelman for Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand. 

MARKETECH APAC conversed with Koay who admits his confidence in assuming the new leadership role. 

“When it comes to this responsibility of leading the creative charge of three cities, it really doesn’t feel unfamiliar to me. Although these countries speak different languages, it is important to know that there is a universal language of creativity,” he said in the interview.

As a piece of advice, Koay also shared that brands must continue to look at themselves – are they only selling ‘stuff’ or being more responsible in terms of how consumers consume their messages. 

“With the rise of metaverse and NFTs, people started interacting differently. They are meeting up in metaverse, and that is the new kind of thing we are part of. Changing times of the world [need] new ways of communicating. Technology opened up more avenues given the restrictions we had,” said Koay.

Koay also believes that above all, brands must simply strive to stay relevant

“Even as a brand or agency, you need to understand what your audience is going through because you want to give them a reason to give you their attention,” he said.

Top 1: PH social commerce startup SariSuki moves to q-commerce with latest US$7.1m funding

SariSuki bags US$7.1m funding, to expand to quick commerce

In a bid to further improve and amplify the local quick commerce scene in the Philippines, local social commerce startup SariSuki has managed to raise US$7.1m in its latest funding. 

The company is led by Brian Cu who is ex-Grab country head. 

In an interview with MARKETECH APAC, Cu shared about the startup’s two different business models that aim to serve two different consumer groups: one that looks for value and the other convenience.

“It’s all built on the foundations of a single supply chain in a single logistics [and] warehousing infrastructure. The reason why we decided to present the two different business models on top of that foundation is because you have certain individuals in the market that look for convenience, and an agent model will not deliver that convenience. At the same time, we also have a group of users that are looking for value, and they’re okay to forego that convenience. But they will purchase in larger amounts if the price-quality ratio is correct,” Cu explained.

He also added that the agent-based model allows them to offer products at lower prices in a sustainable way.

“We believe in a community agent model [which] allows us to do next-day delivery for products that have lower-than-supermarket prices in a sustainable way,” Cu added.

When asked about what lies ahead for the future of q-commerce, he said, “I do think quick commerce is here to stay as a general trend. As long as you can keep pricing and things in quality at the very fresh and acceptable standards, [as well as] speed that just adds value to the whole experience,” he stated.

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Watch our exclusive interviews with the brands themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Top Stories, now live on our YouTube channel.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

SariSuki bags US$7.1m funding, to expand to quick commerce

Manila, Philippines – Local social commerce startup SariSuki has successfully raised US$7.1m, aimed at driving the startup’s expansion into the quick commerce scene. The funding round was led by Openspace, Susquehanna International Group (SIG), Global Founders Capital (GFC), Saison Capital, JG Digital Equity Ventures, and Foxmont Capital Partners.

In total, SariSuki has earned a total of US$10.5m in funding. Furthermore, the new funding will be used to increase the business’ product assortment, dark warehouses, and geographic expansion.

The startup is founded by Bam Mejia as chief commercial officer, Philippe Lorenzo as chief operating officer, Angelo Lee as head of strategy and fundraising and Brian Cu as chief executive officer. For SariSuki, hyper-convenience is a key strategy in breaking down more barriers to e-commerce adoption and creating an end-to-end e-grocery platform.

Cu said, “We are a set of founders that grew up in the Philippines and have an understanding of our market. This, combined with our background in scaling up large tech companies in the region, made us realise that we can do more with the supply chain infrastructure we have built. Quick commerce is a way for us to expand into serving the segment of our market that seeks hyper-convenience for a hyper-local product mix for their daily needs.”

SariSuki started in 2021 with a mission to empower communities with more options to shop for high quality groceries online – which it achieves by buying fresh produce in bulk from local farmers and offering them to the local community at a discounted price.

To address long-existing supply chain inefficiencies, SariSuki adopts an agent-assisted model, servicing its consumers through ‘Community Leaders’. Members of communities who set up their business as a ‘Community Leader’ see meaningful income expansion as they profit from selling produce whilst performing the last mile fulfilment. This model has enabled SariSuki to offer supermarket quality products at wet market prices.