Category: Startup

KFit Acquires Groupon Malaysia To Expand Beyond Fitness Into Local Services

KFit, a year-old service offering gym and healthcare services, has raised more than US$12 million from investors in its Series A funding round has announced today that it has acquired the Groupon Malaysia in an undisclosed deal. The startup is backed by Sequoia Capital India, 500 Startups, Southeast Asia Venturra Capital, SIG and Axiata Digital Innovation Fund.

The news was among expectations as three months earlier the company has acquired the e-commerce group’s Indonesia operations. whereby KFit says the deal is in line with its plan to become a leader in Southeast Asia’s online-to-offline space, short for O2O. Similarly, the company has also launched a deals app called Fave a few months ago whereby the functions of Fave are similar to Groupon.

The reason behind this series of acquisition and the pursuit of the offline-to-online model has been influenced by the signs of potential in China with China’s largest O2O player, Meituan-Dianping, raising US$3.3 billion earlier this year at a valuation of US$18 billion.

“Millions of local businesses are booming in China thanks to the adoption of O2O services, with hundreds of millions of consumers embracing these platforms as part of their day to day lives. The convenience and value benefits of these platforms are key drivers of this new norm. This future is inevitable for Southeast Asia and we hope to be at the forefront of this exciting shift,” KFit CEO and co-founder Joel Neoh said in a statement.

Neoh, the founder of Groupon Malaysia has previously helmed Groupon in Asia Pacific. With this, KFit said Groupon Malaysia will share a fate similar to Groupon Indonesia, whereby it will transition to Fave in early 2017. Essentially, this means that we will see it add new categories for fitness, wellness and other gym-related sectors to its current commerce business. KFit also said that it will retain around 90 percent of staff, with senior Groupon Malaysia executives likely to move on to new roles inside the company.

“This acquisition will see Groupon Malaysia transition to Fave in early 2017 and expand Fave’s offerings to cover restaurants, beauty, wellness, gyms, studios, hotels, holidays, leisure, entertainment, and professional services,” KFit explains.

Founded in April 2015, KFit started out by offering unlimited gym and fitness classes – akin to US-based US$400 million ClassPass – for a fixed monthly fee. It tweaked its model this year, limiting its membership to 10 classes per month, and then branched out into deals for services like massage, spa, beauty and salons as well.

With the present events unfolding, KFit is diverging and setting itself apart from its US predecessor. Instead of becoming a fitness sharing platform in Asia, the company now walks the path of becoming an O2O company as it expands to various other verticals such as food and restaurants, beauty and wellness, and lifestyle and activities. The platforms under the KFit Group – Fave, Groupon Indonesia and KFit – have connected millions of customers to thousands of offline businesses in key Southeast Asian market centers.

“With Groupon Indonesia achieving nearly 2 times growth since our acquisition, we are confident that the same growth principles will bring an exciting new local commerce offering to Malaysia,” said KFit co-founder and CEO Joel Neoh.

Post-acquisition, Groupon Malaysia, an e-commerce marketplace connecting millions of subscribers whereby local merchants will transition into Fave and cover restaurants, beauty, wellness, gyms, studios, hotels, holidays, leisure and entertainment as well.

KFit is a definite startup to note as the Malaysia-based startup within this less than one-year period has raised over US$15 million and is backed by high-profile investors such as Sequoia Capital and 500 Startups, among others.

For more information, please visit KFit at Crunchbase for the company’s timeline activity.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Malaysia’s MaGIC, Uber, And Digi Initiate Ideation Lab – ASEAN’s Next Great Idea To Groom Selected Startups

Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), ride-hailing app Uber and Telecom operator Digi have initiated an ideation lab whereby 20 startups throughout Southeast Asia will be groomed to be investment-ready and this does not require any equity from the participants. A few selected ones will also proceed to the next round and be given the chance to meet early stage investors.

The program is a six-day initiative known as “ASEAN’s Next Great Idea” which will conclude on November 30. Mentors at the MaGIC include Chelsey Lepage, Innovation Lead at UNICEF, Prashant Pathmanaban, Head of Technology at Google and Michael Octoman, Partner at Navis Capital, among others.

“During the program, the top 20 startups – shortlisted from a pool of 417 applicants – will learn how to develop three key aspects of their future business which are their customer, product, and market,” MaGIC said in an announcement on Tuesday.

Additionally, the lab will also provide participants with direct access to the best resources in the ecosystem: MaGIC’s expertise in building entrepreneurs, Uber’s real world experiences, and Digi Incub8’s strength in startup strategy. All these will help the entrepreneurs to fine-tune their ideas or concepts and create a working prototype, preparing them for the next stage of seed investment and funding.

Following this, the top 10 participants will present their refined business ideas to key executives from MaGIC, Uber, and Digi at the Global Entrepreneurship Community event on December 8 in Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, qualified ideas will have the opportunity to meet early stage investors and key players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in San Francisco, as well as a visit to Uber’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

“I hope with programs such as ASEAN’s Next Great Idea lab, more and more individuals are encouraged to come forward with their ideas and develop them further. The emergence of new ideas is what keeps our entrepreneurship ecosystem growing,” said MaGIC CEO Ashran Dato’ Ghazi.

With this, ASEAN’s startup ecosystem will continue to thrive with ideas that can dramatically shape people’s digital lifestyles with their smart devices. While the role MaGIC plays is through instilling an entrepreneurial mindset where solving a problem is at the heart of any startup.

“The ambition now is to help translate the growth potential of these ideas and startups into creating long-term, sustainable businesses,” Digi’s Chief Digital Officer, Praveen Rajan added.

For more information, please visit

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Malaysian Food Delivery Startup ‘Dah Makan’ Is In Talks With Global VCs For Their Next Funding Round

From Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai to the iconic Penang Laksa, Malaysia has a reputation of being a food paradise. It is little wonder that its hottest sector, for both startups and venture capitals, turns out to be the food delivery service.

Currently, online food orders have represented 15 percent of a massive US$70 billion market, and the figure is continuously increasing as consumers are now moving online to do everything, from online bank transactions, shopping and even ordering food for their next meal.

Many food delivery services have rise to fill this demand. Driven by technology, these food delivery services which include The Lean Canteen, The Lunch Club Asia, Chopstick Diner, Naked Lunch Box and The Rebellious Chickpea among some, work to deliver lunch to the busy Malaysian. But one startup stands out among the rest through delivering healthy, foreign options.

“Dah Makan” which in Malay, means “Have you eaten?”, is a Malaysian startup that plans to make daily eating a simple luxury as the company creates healthy gourmet for lunch and dinner which are MSG-free and crafted with the finest ingredients. These cuisines are then packed in a lunch box and delivered to the doorstep within 30 to 45 minutes. With this, healthy eating has become even more convenient and affordable.

But most importantly, the startup described themselves as a “full-stack” food delivery service, which means that they are in control of the whole value chain from menu creation, ingredients sourcing, production delivery as well as customer care. This translates into maintained quality as their orders continue to grow. Besides, Dah Makan also does not compromise on the taste buds as the kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Shamsul Hashim, who previously worked in Sheraton and Hilton.

Co-founded by Jessica Li, Johnathan Weins and Christian Edelmann, the previous two being ex-FoodPanda team members. It was in December 2014, that the team bootstrapped their startup and tested their idea by preparing the meals out of their own apartment for friends. The venture was self-funded with only US$40,000.

In March 2015, The healthy food delivery startup has its first angel seed round, raising US$80,000 (RM340,184) from two angel investors over. Since then, the startup has used the funds to improve and expand their services where it has grown to cover around 80 percent of the Klang valley region and develop the Dah Makan’s mobile app. The funding also allowed them to relocate into a building with a bigger central kitchen, and other processes like hiring, marketing and developing their logistics.

“We are right now finalizing a larger round with several global VCs with extensive experience in e-commerce and consumer brands. It’s very important to have the right investors on board as they can have a significant influence on the future of a company,” founder and CEO of Dah Makan, Jonathan Weins told DealStreetAsia in an interview.

Although currently, the team only delivers to all major business areas in KL and selected residential areas. The startup looks forward to scaling up its target from its current 1000 orders per day to reach 10,000 in a year or two. Beyond that, Dah Makan plans to expand to Singapore and Jakarta early next year – as well as other Malaysian cities besides Kuala Lumpur, having receiving queries from people in Penang and Johor Bahru, asking when Dah Makan will come to them.

Specifics about the funding were not disclosed but Johnathan Weins, the CEO of Dah Makan, said that an announcement on the funding may come in a few months.

For more information, please visit

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Trip Free Secures Seed Funding To Offer Free SIM Card Service For Tourists In Japan

Bridge, based in Tokyo, is a provider of mobile communication and retailer information service that caters specifically to international tourists in Japan. The startup, founded in January earlier this year, has announced that its tourist information service platform, Trip Free has managed to secure a funding round from iSGS Investment Works.

What appears to be interesting is that the funding group, in October, has also invested US$12 million in a startup of a similar nature, that is a mobile application for restaurant reservation management called TORETA. The details of this investment amount or payment date, however, were undisclosed.

Though both startups deal with restaurant reservations, Trip Free, in essence, is a free SIM card service for foreigners who are visiting Japan. The Trip Free service distributes 50MB data SIM cards for free to inbound tourists to provide them with tourist information via the company’s portal website. The SIM cards are also available for usual internet use as well. But if the data communication amount exceeds the free capacity of 50MB, users will be charged for additional capacity, or obtain such capacity for free by booking a restaurant via the Trip Free website.

According to Bridge CEO Yusuke Matsumoto, he has in mind a business model charging retailers for each completed reservation, aiming at information provision for 40 million inbound tourists in 2020, in line with the Japanese government’s goal for the Olympic year visitors.

“Through questionnaires to foreign visitors in Japan, we discovered that many of them have similarly faced troubles in terms of the language barrier, internet environment as well as the understanding of maps. So, at first we came up with a solution, a kind of taxi service which takes them directly to the restaurants first,” Yusuke Matsumoto, Bridge CEO tells about the story behind the commencement of Trip Free.

However, he later gave up that method due to the bad cost balance to the service and instead prioritized the improvement of Japan’s mobile Internet connectivity. That idea led to free SIM card provision and associating customer guidance that was seen as a business opportunity to grasp the route of information provision which visitors are likely to use.

“We perform intermediation of guidance or reservation for restaurants because restaurants are often concerned about last-minute cancellations by foreigners. Preventing the occurrence of cancellations by adopting advance payment with credit cards, we allow users to use this service for free by charging restaurants 10% of the sales amount as commission” Matsumoto added.

The additional capacity will be available with about 2,000 yen (about US$18.7) per GB. Since the service adopted Soracom SIM card, Soracom’s price fluctuations might alter the final pricing. Currently, Trip Free has been distributing SIM cards at about 10 hotels or youth hostels accepting inbound tourists in and around Tokyo, and been reaching 15,000 users.

For more information, please visit

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Chinese Bike-Sharing Startup Mobike Is Riding To Its First Stop In Singapore

China’s bike-sharing startup Mobike is exploring new opportunities as it plans to introduce its bike-sharing services in Singapore. Co-founded by a former Uber executive, Mobike is offering a new mode of transportation for short distances traveling using the electronic bike.

Mobike is also the world’s first station-less bike sharing service, where users can just book and pick up an electric bike, ride it for short distances before returning it to any public bicycle parking. But ultimately this is enabled as the bike-lock is activated by scanning a QR code.

With Mobike, it will not only solve the individual’s personal transportation problem but more importantly, the electric bike will incarnate a revolutionary lifestyle which is much healthier, reducing congestion and pollution that is caused by transportation.

This also goes in lieu with Singapore’s development as the city-state is pushing to become a cycling-friendly city, evident with the government National Cycling Plan that aims to create a cyclist-friendly, extensive well-connected off-road network that will provide safe and healthy cycling for all.

Florian Bohnert, Mobike’s Singapore general manager who has moved to the country for its expansion said that it has been in talks with universities and polytechnics in Singapore to start the service on their campuses.

“Students can cycle from classroom to classroom within the campus, or from the campus to a nearby MRT station, or even a neighboring town.” Florian Bohnert told The Straits Times.

Mobike uses their own manufactured bikes whereby the bikes consist of a full aluminum frame which will prevent rust, airless tires and a crank-and-shaft transmission with the drivetrain concealed, that will prevent users to deal with the traditional issue of chains popping off. Furthermore, the bike locks charge themselves when the user pedals. These features result in the bikes being maintenance-free for 4 years.

In China, the startup is locked in battle with local rivals like Ofo which are backed by the support of Xiaomi and Didi Chuxing, the most dominant ride-hailing. However though Mobike has only found its footprints in four cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, but the startup has found favor with investors like Tencent, Sequoia Capital, and Singapore Vertex.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Scroll to top