FunNow, an instant booking app based in Taiwan, raises $ 15 million Series B – TechCrunch

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FunNow is a booking app for spontaneous people. For example, you can reserve a manicure or restaurant seat and head right away. As people start spending more time away from their homes, FunNow is gearing up to expand to more countries. The Taipei-based company announced today that it has closed a $ 15 million Series B.

The round was co-chaired by Perfect Hexagon Commodity & Investment Bank and Ascendo Ventures, with participation from the corporate risk arms of PChome, KKday and Wistron. It also included recurring investors CDIB Capital, Darwin Ventures, Accuvest, Sanput Travel Group and CSV Venture Fund, which is jointly managed with NEC Capital Solutions and Venture Labo Investment.

Co-founder and CEO TK Chen told TechCrunch that FunNow originally planned to start ramping up its Series B in 2020 before COVID arrived. Despite dealing with the impact of the pandemic in all of its markets, including Hong Kong and Malaysia, the company began to see an improvement in business during the second quarter of this year. Your Series B provides full funding for FunNow, including your 2018 Serie A, at about $ 22.5 million, and will be used to expand the number of categories in your app, adding nightclubs, karaoke bars, and catering, for example, and entering new countries, including Thailand, Singapore, and Japan.

During the pandemic, FunNow faced different challenges in each of its markets. For example, cases in Kuala Lumpur were low for most of this year before an outbreak that began in May. In Taiwan, FunNow’s largest market, life was relatively normal until a spike in cases caused a lockdown from May to August, causing its revenue to soar. decreased dramatically, but has now returned to about 80% of its pre-pandemic performance.

During the outbreaks, the FunNow team adapted the app’s services. For example, in Malaysia, he spoke with food and beverage merchants and found that customers prefer to pick up food rather than wait for it to be delivered, so he added take-out reservations. “In two months, our return on takeout was about the same as our dining income,” said co-founder and global chief strategist CC Chang.

The application already had multichannel reservation tools, so it began to adapt the types of hotel reservations that were offered, adding daytime options, with stays of 4, 6 or 12 hours in increments. For example, people who wanted to dine somewhere, but not in a restaurant, could reserve a room for a few hours and order room service. Some users, tired of the WFH, booked hotel rooms to work.

FunNow founders TK Chen, CC Chang, Pei-Yi Sun and Szu-Chi Lee

“We keep innovating, developing the application, developing more features, and we also acquired a great team in Southeast Asia, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and also in Hong Kong,” Chen said. “We wanted to raise money now so that we can expand market share as soon as possible, once the pandemic is under control.”

He added that COVID has changed the habits of consumers. For example, people now use online reservations more, as walk-ins are discouraged in many places and prefer the convenience of FunNow over a phone call. People also started taking advantage of times when the COVID situation is relatively under control to do things like get salon services.

FunNow faces increased competition, however, as startups that used to focus on international travel switched to “stays.” For example, both Klook backed by SoftBank and PickTime now also offers local reservations for many categories that overlap with FunNow. Chen said he anticipates that “the competition between us will eventually get bigger and bigger.”

One of the ways that FunNow differentiates itself is its emphasis on “everyday life” activities, such as food, haircuts, manicures, or massages, rather than destination-focused packages such as theme parks, tourist spots, or other cities.

“We are really focused on instant reserve,” Chang said. “It is important to our users because it is more convenient. You don’t have to make a phone call and we have 10 different categories that are based on daily life, so if you are used to FunNow for combing your hair, your nails, making salon appointments, ordering flower bouquets or party cakes, it won’t change. easily to other platforms. “

FunNow’s Series B included the corporate risk arms of e-commerce platform PChome, activity and tour booking app KKday, and electronics maker Wistron. Chen said his investment means that FunNow will be able to work with the three companies to “accelerate the growth of a lifestyle ecosystem.”

For example, PChome, one of the most popular shopping apps in Taiwan, may include FunNow activities during promotions. People searching PChome for Mother’s Day gifts can view FunNow restaurant reservations in the app.

Before the pandemic, KKday offered international travel reservations, but now it focuses on local stays or activities. By working together, Chen said the two companies plan to become Klook’s more formidable rivals. “We cannot give many details at this time, but the basic idea is to combine resources. For example, they have many activities and we have dinners and massages. By teaming up, we can combine our suppliers and get more traffic and orders for merchants. “

FunNow will seek other similar partnerships to drive low-cost traffic. Known for being one of Apple’s manufacturing contractors, Wistron’s role in the FunNow reservation ecosystem seems less obvious, but Chen explains that “it is not a pure strategic partner. Wistron has spent a long time digitizing the Taiwan market and has created a corporate fund to invest in startups, and we will get a lot of support from them. “

In a statement, Ascendo Ventures Managing Director Aaron Shih said: “FunNow’s performance during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that the company’s operating conditions are optimistic and have enormous potential for overseas expansion.” .

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