Category: Startup

Chinese children’s stories startup Kaishu Story tells a US$13 million funding tale

Children’s storytelling startup Kaishu Story, otherwise known as Kaishu Jianggushi in Chinese has raised RMB 90 million (about US$13 million) for its Series B funding round.

New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc., one of the largest private educational services in China led the investment.

The round also saw the participation from Chinese growth capital firm Trustbridge Partners, Shanghai-listed Zhejiang Daily Digital Culture Group and iResearch Capital.

Kaishu Story was launched by former CCTV host Wang Kai and represents a children’s content brand focusing on children’s stories, with additional products such as audio series and online parenting courses.

To date, the platform has expanded to a total of 2,033 audiobooks which amounts to 23,363 minutes played over 1.5 billion times. Some of the titles include “Kaishu’s Journey to the West”, “Little Prince”, and “Kaishu’s 365 nights”, to name a few.

The startup claims that it has six million users on its content platform through a WeChat public account, a mobile app and audio shows. It targets to generate the revenue of RMB200 million (about US$29 million) in 2017.

Kaishu will use the latest capital to build a national children’s brand, investing in a wider range of product development related to children’s content and moving on to the parenting industry.

“We are making memories, memories of the people,” said Wang Kai. “We hope that through us, every little kid from the age of two can start building on happy childhood memories.”

This funding round comes in lieu with the emergence of a new generation of content and knowledge-sharing platforms in China that have sparked investor enthusiasm.

In January, Q&A knowledge sharing platform Zhihu has raised US$100 million in a Series D round. While Shanghai Bajiulin, a new media and knowledge sharing startup founded by well-known Chinese financial writer Wu Xiaobo also raised RMB 160 million (about US$23 million) in the same month.

Content Distribution Expert Daniel Tan Speaks To VCNN On Startup Landscape

Following Southeast Asia’s entrepreneurs and burgeoning startup scene, Venture Capital News Network has noticed the prevailed adoption of content marketing which complements the startup culture.

Venture Capital News Network recently spoke with entrepreneur and online marketing consultant Daniel Tan about the use of content marketing strategies within the startup culture. Startups are currently leading the field in the use of content marketing, and more and more startups are adopting the approach to quickly expand and engage a wider audience. Tan offered valuable insights on why this should be the case, and why the trend will continue to grow.

Tan explains that content is not only thriving, it is diversifying, and the common trend is for content to become more niche specific. Attentions spans get shorter and competition increases, meaning content must get specific to be engaging. Startups generally only have one key product or service aimed at solving a specific problem, meaning they are naturally suited to thrive in the new area.

Tan identifies user-generated content and influencers as another major trend that startups seem purpose built to harness, with consumer feedback and content creation seen as more trustworthy than content from the business itself. This saves resources for startups on generating content, encouraging them instead to ‘curate’ content generated by early adopters.

The most important reason however is that startups start their marketing strategy from scratch, making it easier for content to take the focus than in already well-established businesses.

In the interview, Daniel Tan explained, “Startups are highly nimble entities and are looking for the greatest ROI from a minimal investment. They don’t have a pre-established marketing department with fixed and often outdated ideas about how to communicate. As a result, content is the default strategy, and diversifying it leads to other complementary approaches. That’s why startups are so successful with content marketing and why they’re seriously disrupting the landscape that multinationals have held onto for nearly a decade. My advice would be to ensure startups document that strategy to keep things on track.”

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Media startup Boombastis raises pre-Series A funding from Unistellar

Online media startup Boombastis has recently secured an undisclosed pre-Series A funding from Unistellar, a venture development and advisory firm which pulls funds from Southeast Asian high-net-worth individuals and institutions.

Based in Jakarta, Unistellar help entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level by providing practice knowledge, strategic direction, talent management, and relevant business network to accelerate the growth of their business partners.

Boombastis is Unistellar’s first media company that was successfully launched in 2014. Since its site went live, the startup has accumulated a total of 16.9 million page views and a proclaimed 4 million users per month.

The online media platform grew the traffic on the basis of creating viral content which targets the Indonesian Alay market, that is in reference to the audiences in the middle to lower tier of the market which has a size of over 30 million.

Besides viral content, the site also delivers informative content as well including lifestyle tips.

The startup has also been operating on a very lean cost. According to Pascal Sembel, the managing partner of Unistellar, “the editorial team consists of only four full-time employees. The rest are freelancing contributors whom we are paying per article.”

“Barrier to entry in this sector is very low. It’s so easy to become a media entrepreneur these days,” said Nendra Rengganis, the CEO of Boombastis. “But only content business is not profitable, you need to come up with different revenue streams.”

Rengganis further explained, “some have started to create their own communities, launching their own product or setting up merchandise stores. That is one of the ways to maintain independence.”

In this aspect, Boombastis will introduce a string of new features, including what it calls a new kind of news, infotainment, and Youth Muslim Media. Moreover, with the fresh capital, the startup expects to reach a break-even point in the next three to six months.

Boombastis currently competes with Kumparan, Brillo, Hipwee, IDNtimes, Malesbanget.com, Baca, and many others in the attempt to dominate the pop-culture driven millennial market segment in Indonesia.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Buruda Concert creates an Airbnb for matching musicians with concert venues

Buruda Concert, a Korean concert planning platform officially opened its beta service on Monday, allowing musicians to book a venue and time to hold their own concerts. The website functions very much like the accommodation website Airbnb, but is designed for live music.

That is, musicians interested in performing can simply visit the site and select available options of time and venue. This provides convenience for musicians to hold their own concerts wherever and whenever.

Besides, the platform is also opened to music lovers, exposing them to be exposed to a variety of concerts. Music fans can simply purchase Buruda Tickets, that is presales tickets which will fund the concerts.

There is a gap in the live music industry between local undiscovered musicians and the demand for live music from private hosts and other venues.

Buruda Concert simplifies the whole process, providing a benefit to both musicians who are in need of a decent and economical place to hold a concert as well as event locations which are in needs of clients.

Buruda Concert currently has a fanbase of 10,000 music fans and 457 scheduled concerts to date, with performances by famous South Korean boy band Bulletproof Boy Scouts (BTS) and upcoming talents like Choi Hyo-in and Yozo.

“By lifting the burdens of the administrative complexities for the artists through already having the available venues and times as options, the website made it easier for the artists and the fans as well,” said a spokesperson from Buruda Concert.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Doki Doki begins beta testing for Ball, its newest voice-centric social networking app

Doki Doki, a Japanese startup led by serial entrepreneur Takahiro Iguchi has recently initiated a closed beta testing for its communication and networking app known as Ball. The software will be tested by 100 people whom identities were not revealed.

The app is inspired by the startup’s first product Baby, a social app which allows users to record and share 5-second voice messages which are made accessible to other Baby users near the location. Depending on how the user sound or what messages they chose to convey, other users can decide if they want to connect, by flicking left or right in a Tinder-like fashion.

If users’ intentions match, they can become friends and are allowed to have a private voice chat instead of chatting via the public parade chat. Messages will also automatically disappear within 24 hours so that conversation with new acquaintances or old friends can remain discreet.

Baby was launched in November last year and is only downloadable from the United States iTunes App Store.

Its new application Ball, however, extends its voice-centric feature to create the world’s first voice social network. The service allows its users to talk as much as desired, whenever they want and wherever they want within a time range of 5 seconds.

“In the new version of Baby, we will move further away from the encounter of voice to focus on the continuous process of daily chatter. The aim is to create an environment that is more suitable for voice messaging,” said Takahito Iguchi on the stage at FabCafe MTRL.

To create that, the app functions by connecting users who are interested in similar topics together. For example, if one person made a comment about the new “iPhone 8”, he or she will be linked to those who are talking about the same topic from across the world.

Iguchi describes the experience that Ball offers as a cafe-like space.

Doki Doki, Inc. is founded in June 2014 to develop a platform where people can instantaneously understand each other. Takahito Iguchi, the serial entrepreneur behind Doki Doki became popular at TechCrunch 40 following the disrupt with Sekai Camera – an augmented reality app which proved to be a world-class hit.

The company has already raised funds of about US$1.1 million from investors including Skyland Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures, and Umeda Startup Fund. Earlier in February this year, the startup has also raised 50 million yen (about US$460K) from the Kyoto University Innovation Capital (Kyoto iCAP).

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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