As reported earlier by e27, Japanese venture capitalist Koichi Saito founded KK Fund in February, focused on investing in online marketplaces and fintech startups in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, in addition to Taiwan. This fund is largely backed by Japan’s Incubate Fund, which appointed the latter’s founding partner Masahiko Honma as KK advisor.
Malaysia-based Digital News Asia recently reported last week that KK Fund has invested in Malaysia’s SMS-based on-demand delivery service called Be Malas. This round was led by KK Fund with participation from other unnamed investors, raising a total of $500,000.
Be Malas allows users to text for anything ranging from picking up a lunch box to paying taxes as long as it is legal, for delivery to the doorstep. Using the service, one is to pay delivery costs and Be Malas’ commission not to mention the actual expenses for an item purchased.
Saito told Digital News Media about what led him to invest at this time:
I’d been looking for a mobile messaging service that acts as a commerce platform in Southeast Asia as well as East Asia.
This type of business has low barriers of entry, so it really depends on how fast the team moves, expands and executes; the founding trio’s previous experience with Groupon Asia has been reflected.
The founders emulated Groupon by focusing on speed and know-how as to regional expansion. I spotted their strengths during my first meeting with them in Kuala Lumpur.
Saito decided to invest in Be Malas within two days since he first met up with the company’s three founders, namely Adlin Yusman, Suthenesh Sugumaran and Puvanendren M. Maniam. They raised their seed round within a month from their first order of brace wax.
Prior to Be Malas, KK Fund has invested $530,000 in Malaysia’s home renovation marketplace Kaodim just three months since its launch with participation from 500 Startups and East Ventures, following investment in an unnamed logistics startup in Malaysia.
In view of the recent trends for this sector, US-based Magic, often cited as a messaging-based on-demand delivery service, fundraised $12 million from Sequoia Capital in March. Slightly different from Be Malas, India’s Lookup, a messaging-based concierge service that lets one shoot off a message to local businesses, fundraised $116,000 from Japanese angel investor Teruhide Sato and gaming company DeNA (TSE:2432) in January.
Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by Masaru Ikeda
Proofread by “Tex” Pomeroy