Investments

iPrice’s (Mobile) Eyes On Prize

There are any number of players striving to be the prime mover behind Southeast Asian eCommerce — many of them very large and rather established. And in that crowded field is iPrice, a small firm with a big plan for itself: to be the gateway to all online retail in Southeast Asia.

iPrice’s business model is built around aggregation, meaning they get paid for all the traffic they send to various eCommerce sites around the world — and their primary service is curation, connecting the consumer to the good or service they want (no matter where in the world they want to buy it).

But iPrice is looking to do much, much more, according to their incoming CEO David Chmelar. Chmelar hails from the Boston Consulting Group and most recently from the Czech Republic’s Wuestenrot Bank, where he was a board member.

Chmelar is laser-focused on growing the horizons of iPrice’s offering, which in the not too distant future will involve coupon offers with some of its partner sites. Says.com in Malaysia and news site Rappler in the Philippines are both using iPrice’s white-labeled coupon pages to expand their eCommerce offerings for users.

According to Chmelar, the coupons are the next rational expansion of the firm’s product discovery business, as it helps them connect consumers to the best tie and the best value. And it increases the number of clicks in general, which is important since iPrice takes a cut of any sales generated by clicking on its links — though the firm is quiet on the exact details of how its monetization scheme works, or how their partner sites fit into it.

iPrice is also looking to strengthen its mobile offering, particularly around its design for users on the mobile Web.

“We’ve been getting great traction and have built a very solid base and good base number of merchants,” he added. “By mastering our mobile presence, iPrice can truly become the consumer brand for online shopping that we envision it to be.”

But for now that plan will not include a standalone mobile app, even though iPrice gets more than half of its Web traffic from mobile shoppers. That is not an oversight, Chmelar notes, it is understanding the reality of how consumers are actually leveraging mobile.

“People are still searching for products on Google [and iPrice] transfers traffic to merchants, many of which don’t have an app,” Chmelar explained.

Today, iPrice offers 15 million products from over 150 “direct” partners — a fivefold increase from when the company completed its first funding round of 2015 in May.

Chmelar says he believes the firm can double those numbers by the end of the next quarter, an effort that will no doubt be aided some by the $1.2 million the firm just bagged.

Asia Venture Group (AVG) financed the company’s previous $550,000 raise and also led this round. Venturra, F2 Capital and Starstrike Ventures also participated.

Investment Tracker for the week ended 12-11-15

The weather is unseasonably warm, with shorts and T-shirts abounding on the East Coast, but Wall Street and VCs have not thawed in lockstep. This past week, which ended Dec. 11, saw gains from the previous week, but that comes off a very small base, with the week showing $240.5 million in fund movement, and the huge bulk of that coming in at the FinTech level, which has been a trend for quite some time.

This time around there were no triple-digit deals.

The heaviest hitter in this anemic week came as National Funding, which makes small business loans, said it had signed a $75 million lending facility with CapitalSource, which is a division of Pacific Western Bank. That boosts the lending pact by $25 million and now, according to National Funding, the lending commitments to the company total $150 million. National Funding has said that its revenue should grow by as much as 67 percent in 2015 to $66 million.

Trustev followed this news with the sale of the Ireland-based company to TransUnion for $44 million last week. The latter firm had been looking to boost its fraud and analytics platform.

Separately, Platfora, a big data and analytics company, grabbed $30 million in investments last week. The company got the backing from earlier funding partners, ranging from Allegis Capital to Tenaya Capital, and the most recent score brings total funding to $95 million. The company said the funding would be used to boost sales force and efforts.

If big data has had its moment in the sun this week, then it pays to look at, as usual, how the FinTech realm in general has been trending, and below we can see some staggered, but ultimately downward trending, smoothed out to exclude large deals.

Headed into the holidays and the last few business days of the year, it seems a safe bet to say that a sudden surge in investments may not be in the cards.

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