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How Leading Ecommerce Aggregator iPrice Scored $10 Million in Funding

The startup bills itself as users’ online shopping companion.
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Malaysia-based startup iPrice Group on Monday announced that it has raised $10 million in a Series B funding round led by ACA Investments Pte Ltd, along with Daiwa PI Partners, and returning investors LINE Ventures, and Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund. 

The ecommerce aggregation engine, which helps online shoppers pull up and compare similar items from different shopping platforms such as Lazada, Shoppee, and many others, last announced a funding round in May 2018. Despite refusing to divulge the startup’s total valuation, iPrice Group CEO and co-founder David Chmelar said the company has now raised just under $20 million since it was founded in 2015. 

Similar to how travelers can go to flights and hotel booking sites such as Skyscanner, Hopper, and Trivago, iPrice’s main service is to simplify ecommerce in the region by providing a one-stop portal where users can search for whatever they’re in the market for and have the platform show the most relevant options.

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Chmelar said iPrice will use its fresh capital to develop new product discovery features, provide even better user experience, and add to its partner merchants. The company currently has partnerships with so-called “super apps,” like Line and Home Credit, as well as with Visenze, an artificial intelligence solutions provider for retailers, brands, and publishers.

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iPrice Group co-founder and CEO David Chmelar makes a presentation in front of regional media at the company hedquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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The company also just moved its 200-plus strong staff into a new office building in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Bangsar business district.

iPrice’s revenue model is as a classic affiliate marketing partner, where the company provides leads to the merchants in other ecommerce platforms for which it receives a commission.

“Typically a percentage cost per sale commission in exchange for those leads for users,” Chmelar said. “It’s free for users and the monetization comes from the merchants.”

According to the company, its main business unit that accounts for 50 percent of revenues is operating at a 30 percent EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) margin. The plan is to turn other parts of the business into the same level of profitability within the next two to three years.

Chmelar said that as of the end of 2019, iPrice offers 1.5 billion products on its platform, attracting 20 million visitors per month through various entry points (website, app, partners, etc.), and up to five million transactions, or when customers actually bought merchandise off its platform.

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iPrice is currenty present and claims to be the leading e-commerce aggregator in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

The company now has a staff of about 200, comprising some 25 nationalities, all hedquartered in Kuala Lumpur's Bangsar district

“iPrice has the potential to become the biggest e-commerce aggregator in the entire Asian continent,” said Daiwa PI Partners Director Hirofumi Imamura. “It has been expanding its service with super apps like LINE and Home Credit. Aside from this, iPrice’s strong management, deep understanding of SEA’s consumer behavior, and diverse, talented staff from various countries have given us the confidence to invest in this company. It has so much potential to grow further,”

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“We think the ecommerce market in Southeast Asia is attractive in general,” added ACA Investments chief investment officer Tomohiro Fujita to explain its decision to join this funding round for iPrice. “The positioning of iPrice in the industry is very unique. As an ecommerce aggregator, iPrice is not in competition with the big ecommerce platforms like Lazada and Shoppee. iPrice works together with those large ecommerce platforms. So we thought iPrice can enjoy the growth of the market together with other ecommerce platforms.”

Fujita added that ACA Investments, which does private equity investments around Southeast Asia and Japan, is not only limited to ecommerce but has investments in other sectors, such as healthcare and other traditional industries. While the company has yet to make investments in any Philippine company, it is on the lookout for opportunities in the country.

“We are looking at consumer-related industries in the Philippines, such as consumer goods retailers or food and beverage,” he said. 

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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