China’s Luckin Coffee, a coffee franchise rivaling Starbucks had just closed a US$200 million Series A round from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, China’s Legend Capital, Joy Capital, and Centurium Capital.
The funding round values Luckin at US$1 billion which makes it the newest Unicorn in China.
However, the scale of the capital and the fact that the round is labeled a Series A has been confusing because the company basically expanded overnight.
Founded by Jenny Qian, the former chief operating officer in Car Inc, Luckin Coffee started late last year.
Luckin Coffee has rapidly grown using a mass-store model and the company was soon found everywhere in China. It entered the market vigorously and expanded across China’s first and second-tier cities.
But in less than nine months after its launch, Luckin Coffee has opened 525 outlets across China’s major cities, in addition to offering on-demand delivery services in partnership with S.F. Express. Luckin Coffee will deliver for orders over RMB35 (US$5.30) within 30 minutes.
Besides, the coffee franchise selling point was clear, it positioned itself similarly to Starbucks. Both highlighting their freshly brewed coffee to be of high Arabica standards and made with professional blending.
Pricing-wise, Luckin Coffee is reasonably set between 20 to 30 yuan (about US$3 to US$5) which separates it from fast food coffees at McCafe or KFC that is 10 to 20 yuan (about US$2 or US$3), while being more attractive than Starbucks which sells at 30 to 40 yuan (about US$5 to US$6).
If that’s not enough to prove that it is a rival of Starbucks, the Chinese coffee chain has also opened fire on Starbucks, accusing the American coffee giant of engaging in monopolistic behavior and creating an unfair domestic trade market.
An act that Starbuck has called out as a publicity stunt.
Then again, Luckin is not a Starbucks copycat. The startup adds a technological touch making its coffee-shop model revolving around an app.
Luckin customers have to download the app to order and pay for their coffee. They do not accept cash and payments can only be made using WeChat or Luckin’s own coffee wallet. This breaks it out of the traditional retail mold, fitting it in with new retail trends like Alibaba and Tencent which partners with supermarket and convenience stores on mobile payments.
Similar to many other Chinese Internet-based startups, the startup has also been spending massively on cash discounts and promotions to gain market share. First-time customers can get a free cup of coffee, while their referrals can also get another free cup of coffee.
Despite the low prices and rising expansion project, the question is – how does the company justify its valuation and can it take on the coffee giant Starbucks?
Jeff Towson, an investment lecturer at Peking University in Beijing told Quartz, “Luckin Coffee can easily worth US$1 billion if it can execute on the business — but that’s a big if.”
He explains that a large part of Starbucks’ success is not just personalize marketing and coffee. China is Starbucks second largest market after the United States with more than 3300 stores in operation.
The coffee tycoon’s real leverage is with real estates whereby many of its stores are located strategically in expensive, high traffic locations that rivals cannot afford.
However, the startup uses app to draw people to less bustling locations that are cheaper to rent. This may be the solution to overcome the real estate power of the coffee tycoon.
Moving forward, Luckin Coffee plans to use the newly raised funds for product research, IT platform development, and business expansion.
Global startup competition G-Startup Worldwide recently announced GrowPal, an aquaculture investment platform as the winner of G-Startup Indonesia 2017.
Foreign language e-learning platform Squline and logistics aggregator platform Shipper has won the second and third place respectively.
GrowPal is a P2P lending platform that helps freshwater fishermen to raise funding for their businesses, in addition to shipping these products to countries like the United States, France, and Russia through partnerships with export companies.
Founded by Paundra, the startup is currently working with fishermen in Pacitan, Situbondo, Karimun Jawa Island, and Makassar. It monetizes through taking 15 percent of every investment, claiming to be profitable with US$1.5 million of Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV).
As the winner, GrowPal has won an investment cheque worth US$150,000 from GWC Innovator Fund and Kejora Ventures, as well as represent Indonesia at the G-Startup Worldwide final round in Silicon Valley.
GrowPal will go up against representatives from other countries, including Tel Aviv winner Donde Fashion, an AI-powered visual search for eCommerce and Beijing winner Zion China, a startup researching the kinetics of glucose metabolic.
Malaysia based co-working space startup CO3 Social Office officially launched their first office location in Puchong, Malaysia today. The opening of the Puchong office marks the completion of the first out of five offices the company had planned.
Early this year, the startup revealed their ideology in Connexion at Nexus, Bangsar South. During the 1,500 people event, the team from CO3 presented their plan to deliver the “coolest office in Malaysia” by June 2017. In the same event, they had also announced the plan to open 5 offices in 12 months.
“We have said it, now we have done it”, said Yong Chen Hui, Founder & CEO of CO3 Social Office. “The journey wasn’t easy but our aspiration took us here.”
“We have said it, now we have done it”, said Yong, CEO of CO3
In celebration of the first workspace opening, the team organised a weeklong celebration including two housewarmings, a grand opening ceremony, and an exclusive social gathering with Bruneian artist Goh Kiat Chun or better known as Wu Chun. Now a full-time entrepreneur, the ex-singer Wu Chun is the non-executive director of the newly launched co-working space. As part of the weeklong celebration, the 44-year-old entrepreneur shared his rich experiences in entrepreneurship with a group of young influencers.
Wu Zun, one of CO3 co-founders having a sharing session with Malaysia's top social media influencers
When asked about the differentiating factors that set CO3 apart from the existing co-working offices in the region, Yong brought up an interesting point. The “heartware” he said. He explained that besides the hardware (the facilities) and the software (the mentor supports and business networks) which almost every co-working office provides, CO3 social office is promoting an intangible spirit called the “heartware”.
It’s made up of 3 key elements namely freedom, dignity, and trust. “We allow ideas to travel freely within this space, we promote the concept of same rank where everyone has their own space, and we want to build trust within the members,” he added.
The spirit of CO3 is to allow free travel of ideas between the members
Further embodying the spirit of “heartware”, this co-working space allows flexible leasing for as short as a month and an adopted honor system for the food and beverages in the workspace. Additionally, all the net proceeds from the honor system will be donated to charitable causes.
Built upon CO3’s honor system, members pay for their food and beverages without any supervision.
With millennials slowly taking over the workforce, talent attraction and retention is more challenging than ever. Hence the company is confident that augmenting the importance of human-centric “heartware” will be an alternative solution to talent retention.
Yong giving a speech on the importance of "Heartware".
CO3 Social Office also positioned itself as a unique concept that can be implemented in existing corporate environments and real-estate locations, improving their appeal to the new generation of white collar professionals, on top of optimising the utilisation of their existing assets.
Jeff Ong, Executive Director of CO3 explained that many offices have unutilised real estates like meeting rooms or under-utilised real estates like manager rooms. Co-working space helps companies to turn these real estate cost into revenue.
CO3 maximizes the value of real estates by having shared meeting rooms, brainstorm area, and other facilities among the members.
On the day of the launch, Yong also revealed that the 22,000 sq feet working space has achieved more than 80% occupancy, with 200 members from various professions including the legal, corporate secretary, production house, event, media, and tech startup industries. CO3 Social Office is not just the coolest office in Malaysia, but it’s also the largest of its kind in the region. Believing in the concept of constant growth, the team had planned to outdo their current accomplishment. Yong stated that this first office is built to prove the concept of co-working area in Malaysia. Ready to achieve their next goal, they are eyeing their second location which will take up 80,000 sq feet in a 5 storey building. The location is 4 times larger than its predecessor and is said to be along Jalan Semangat. When asked about the remaining 3 locations, Yong explained that scouting process is ongoing. Though the exact locations are not finalised, the team is looking to complete these locations by Q2 2018.
More shots of CO3 Social Office:
A bright red plane in the middle of the office to usher the members TO FLY.
CO3 comes with an assortment of entertainment & relaxation facilites.
No short of good foods & beverages in the premise.
For more information, please visit http://co3.co
A special report by PRWIRE Asia.
Indonesian peer-to-peer (P2P) lending startup Julo has landed an undisclosed seed funding led by Skystar Capital, with participation from East Ventures, Convergence Ventures, and other undisclosed angel investors.
The capital will be used to accelerate financial inclusion in Indonesia, that is focusing on the 100 million underbanked people to obtain loans for their various personal use.
According to Julo’s Co-founder Adriansus Hitijahubessy, it will be primarily spent on product and business development, in addition to machines learning investments, team development and distribution.
“The idea for Julo started when I was building AI-based credit scoring solutions for emerging countries in my previous company,” said Hitijahubessy. “As successful as it was, I realized that instead of helping consumers in Latin America and African countries to gain access to credit, I should be helping people in my home country.”
Hitijahubessy also notes that Indonesia is a suitable seedbed for the fintech lending company, as the country has a large segment of the population at the base of the financial pyramid and low consumer credit liquidity equipped with information technology.
Along with Hans Sebastian and Victor Darmadi, Hitijahubessy set up Julo, a personal loan app for Android users. This allows loan applicants to apply for a small personal loan from their phones, where they are required to submit pictures of personal documents.
Successful applications can receive their loan within the next 24 hours, with a maximum permissible loan size of about US$600 and a payment period up to six months.
Besides, it is the startup’s credit scoring algorithm that allows users to manage loans, due dates, and cash back bonuses paired with alerts and reminders, which draw Skystar Capital to invest.
Edward Gunawan, the Partner of Skystar said, “We believe that having a strong credit scoring algorithm is a key differentiator for P2P lending startups. Driven by a technically strong founding team, Julo is one of the first locally grown P2P lending startups. ”
The startup generates revenue from a provision fee from borrowers and service fees from lenders. Since its launch in January 2017, Julo claims to have 50,000 app downloads and more than thousands lenders.
Julo hopes the company will reach a critical mass of 10,000 borrowers within the year, and accelerate the development of its credit scoring engine.
EXA Global, under the umbrella of digital entertainment and technology company Havson Group is unveiling Malaysia’s first ever Hyper Reality Experience at Setiawalk EXA Outpost.
Referred by EXA Global as South-East Asia’s first ever Hyper-Reality Family Entertainment Center, players will be able to experience a fully immersive, wireless, free-roaming gaming experience at EXA Outpost. This is made possible thanks to the combination of highly advanced virtual reality technologies like untethered backpack setup and multi-user motion capture system employed by EXA Global.
Richard Lee, the CEO of EXA Global explained that engagement is core to the project designed by the team. The focus is to get players involved in the technology to become part of the story.
“Getting the right module, enhancing the formula, experience and content are key components when creating and building an immersive advanced technology to have people sharing their hyper-reality experience with others,” said Lee.
Upon its launching, EXA Outpost will be featuring an exclusive VR multiplayer sci-fi shooter and space exploration mission, named EXA Dimension 12. Imagine role-playing Starship Troopers or Mass Effect in a fully immersive space dimension, that’s what the EXA Dimension 12 is all about. In the mission, players known as Troopers will first be transported to the Ingress room, where they will receive their EXA gears (guns, backpacks, and other wearables) for the upcoming exploration. Once geared up, players will then be dispatched and transported to the Dimension 12, it is here that the players will ride along a thrilling storyline, receive instructions to investigate unexplored regions, and fight off vicious extra-dimensional monsters with a diversified profile of advanced weaponries.
“Being that part of the story for our players is important to us, as we know experience is something valuable we at EXA Global can offer,” said Lee.
EXA Dimension 12, being fully developed in-house by EXA Global, is a respectable feat demonstrated by the talents of the team. For EXA Global, being able to develop content in-house also means they are not reliant on 3rd party developers for their future VR content. This opens a door to a promising future for EXA Global as they are free to develop any content that falls inline with their business strategy. In fact, this advantageous edge can already be observed as EXA Global has already started working on additional VR contents that revolve around horror and kids-friendly themes to expand their content portfolio.
Moving forward, the company notes that it is planning to open future locations around the world, targeting North America, Europe, Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Australia, and the neighboring countries surrounding Malaysia. Bigger flagship centers ranging from 10,000 square feet to football size venue will also be opened in future to house a bigger crowd, according to Lee.
Other than looking for rapid market expansion, the company is also looking to upgrade its VR hardware to further improve its hyper-reality experience. In the upcoming future, EXA Global will be developing a full body suit with haptic feedback that is mapped according to traditional Chinese acupuncture points to improve the surrealism of the game. Other wearables like VR gloves and augmented reality (AR) wristband will also be developed alongside the full body suit.
Another noteworthy future expansion for EXA Global is the development of VR eSport. With the rise of eSport in recent years, it is also part of EXA Global’s strategy to tap into this trend and pioneer the VR eSport scene. To achieve this, offering player-vs-player (PvP) experience at its VR centers will be one of the upcoming focuses for EXA Global. Seeing the success of eSports giants like Dota 2 (offering a prize pool of whopping $20,770,460 USD for its tournament) and League of Legend (having an active monthly user base of 100 millions players), the potential of VR as the future mainstream eSport is definitely a huge one.
“As part of the creative and innovative pioneer in digital entertainment and technology Havson Group, between ourselves we aim to create the ultimate immersive Hyper-Reality Studio experience within this region,” said Lee.
Located at SetiaWalk, Puchong, EXA Outpost consists of two rooms whereby one is dedicated to the games while the other is a Hyper Reality Arcade Entertainment Center where players can play VR arcade games. Open for public starting from 3rd of June, for those who wants to take a deep dive into the hyper-reality experience, players can now book for a pair of ticket at a promotional pricing of RM65 on their official website: https://www.exa-global.com/booking.php