Hong Kong co-working startup Campfire pulls in $18M ahead of global expansion

WeWork may be doubling down on Asia, having initially focused its efforts on China, but that isn’t stopping local players from hatching ambitious expansion plans of their own.

One of those eying new markets is Hong Kong-based Campfire, which tries to stand out from the crowd with industry-focused spaces. Today, the startup announced it has raised an $18 million Series A ahead of planned expansions to three overseas countries: Singapore, Australia and the UK. It previously raised $6 million in March 2017.

Two-year-old Campfire’s business right now is in Hong Kong, where it has eight locations which include co-education, co-retail and co-living sites, as well as more standard co-working venues. In the case of its fashion-focused location, that even includes runway, photo studio, fabric facility and 3D printer.

The new capital comes from a trio of real estate firms in Hong Kong, they are Kwai Jung Group, Fast Global Holdings — which is a subsidiary of Rykadan Capital — and Sa Sa. In the latter case, Sa Sa is actually a cosmetics brand that operates across Greater China and parts of Southeast Asia, but the firm owns a significant retail footprint. That includes the building that houses Campfire’s ‘V Point’ space in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, so the relationship is already well advanced.

A Campfire representative confirmed that the capital is all provided up front and equity-based, in other words it is an investment in the business not specific locations or joint ventures, as is sometimes the case with investment deals in co-working firms.

Going beyond Hong Kong, the group is set to open its first overseas space in London (Shoreditch) with co-working locations in Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore planned thereafter. Further down the line, it is looking to move into “global gateway cities,” with the likes of Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok and Brisbane among those that are on the list.

Co-working is sufficiently developed worldwide that most countries across Asia have a number of local players who compete with WeWork, the global leader valued at $35 billion, either now or else soon in the future. Some of the more developed of that bunch include Singapore’s JustCoEV Hive in Indonesia and China’s Ucommune. WeWork has actually been busy consolidating its position, having snapped up Spacemob in Southeast Asia and its main rival in China, Naked Hub.

Restaurant booking startup Eatigo chows down ~$10M more from TripAdvisor

Eatigo, a Southeast Asia-based dining service that describes itself as an ‘anti-Groupon’ for restaurants, had a busy 2017 that saw it expand into a number of markets including India. Now it is primed to continue that growth further still after it gobbled down a fresh serving of capital from TripAdvisor, the travel giant that it already counts as an investor.

Ok, no more food jokes, I promise…

The funding is undisclosed but Eatigo CEO and co-founder Michael Cluzel told TechCrunch it is ‘eight-digits.’ We do know that it takes Eatigo to over $25 million raised to date which, given that the startup had raised more than $15 million following the completion of its previous round, suggests that the amount is around the $10 million mark.

Eatigo was founded in Bangkok in 2013 and it is designed to help restaurants fill unused inventory by offering deals to customers at certain times of the day. The appeal to eaters is deals, but unlike group buying services such as Groupon, Eatigo encourages restaurants to manage their inventory and time so that they are filling their quiet hours for additional revenue not ramming people into restaurants for the sake of it. The latter scenario, of course, puts pressure on staff, reduces service quality and is generally not conducive to a good dining experience. It is also questionable whether discounts drive long-time loyalty, a cornerstone the Groupon of old was built on, but I digress.

The Eatigo service is present in six countries where it claims four million registered users and over 4,000 restaurants. That latter number ranges from high-end affairs, such as upscale hotel restaurants, to chain outlets and — my own personal favorite — street food outlets.

The important part here, besides the money, is that this new deal appears to signal a closer relationship between Eatigo and TripAdvisor, and particularly TripAdvisor’s The Fork subsidiary and its TripAdvisor Restaurants service.

The Fork, which the company got via a 2014 acquisition, is TripAdvisor’s expansion into food, allowing users to find information on availability and bookings on restaurants and in cities. Like Eatigo, it allows for advanced bookings at a discount but the service is squarely focused on Europe, having initially been founded in France. In that respect, it makes sense for the duo to collaborate.

“As we look to further our presence in the Asia Pacific region, we believe our latest strategic investment in Eatigo will continue to support a great business and strong management team. TripAdvisor’s continued partnership with Eatigo will help us both better serve millions of diners and restaurant owners who are increasingly turning to online channels,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, whos is senior VP of TripAdvisor Restaurants and the founder of TheFork, in a statement.

Cluzel, the Eatigo CEO, told TechCrunch that his company is looking to expand in Southeast Asia and the wider Asian market but, on the product side, it is preparing a new service that will “move beyond our original scope of doing just time-based discounts.”

What exactly that is — and how/whether it is tied to TripAdvisor or The Fork — he wouldn’t say at this point.

Everledger’s Kemp and Omise’s Hasegawa join TC Blockchain

Blockchain technology and the decentralizing effects of distributed ledgers have enormous amounts of potential and may mean the Internet will never be the same again. The fact that one could eventually run vast applications without any servers is equally transformational. But it’s still very much a wild west out there in terms of ascertaining who is working on ‘the real deal’.

The blockchain world is currently weighed down with the expectations of dubious crypto-currency speculators and sky-high ICOs and hacks that are interfering with a frank conversation about the future.

Which is why TechCrunch has decided to throw its hat into the ring and try to bring together the leading players in the space for a frank discussion and inquiry into this next phase in Zug, Switzerland, this July.

At TC Sessions: Blockchain 2018, TechCrunch’s editors will bring together top figures in the blockchain technology world to discuss how and where blockchain technology is going to disrupt the status quo.

We’re delighted to announce that Jun Hasegawa, CEO / Founder of Omise, a multinational payments company currently present in Thailand (HQ), Japan, Singapore and Indonesia that has raised over $50M in funding.

In 2015, his desire to push the boundaries led Omise to become the very first financial services company to join the Ethereum community. In 2017, after over a year of research and development, this culminated in the launch of OmiseGO, the crowd-funded blockchain division tasked with creating the OMG network. This is an Ethereum-based public blockchain with the ambitious vision of enabling financial service equity by radically decentralizing value transfer and exchange.

Prior to founding payments Omise, Jun was involved in founding a series of tech companies in Japan mainly in the fields of e-commerce, lifelog and mobile payments and is currently based in Bangkok.

We’ll also be joined by one of the leading proponents of blockchain tech to track the provenance of real-world objects.

Leanne Kemp, is Founder & CEO of Everledger – a digital, global ledger that tracks and protects items of value.

Using her knowledge of emerging technologies, business, jewelry and insurance, Everledger is aiming at a new kind of global transparency for luxury, constructing a digital verification system that assists in the reduction of fraud, black markets, and trafficking.

Everledger was recently named Best Blockchain Company at the Financial Tech Awards 2016, Best Newcomer at the Asia Insurance Technology Awards 2016, Innovator of the Year at the Penrose Awards, and Best B2B Start-up at the Digital Top 50 Awards.

TC Sessions: Blockchain 2018 is being built on the hugely successful Disrupt San Francisco 2017 event, which included discussions on blockchain startups, cryptocurrency and ICOs with guests such as Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin .

But why is it in Zug, Switzerland?

Well, Zug has become known as “Crypto Valley” because of the numerous blockchain companies that have moved there to capitalize on the canton’s forward-thinking approach to regulation and favorable tax approach for cutting-edge projects.

As well as the above speakers we’ll also be joined by Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of the Hyperledger project, an open source, collaborative effort advancing blockchain technologies in areas like marketplaces, data-sharing networks, micro-currencies and decentralized digital communities.

At the event we’ll be covering how decentralization will impact the internet and web services today; how big businesses and enterprises are moving forward to tap the potential of the blockchain; what the future of financing through crypto and ICOs might look like; and the important technological breakthroughs and challenges facing blockchain.

More speakers are due to be announced in the coming weeks and months, but you can already buy a ticket here.

If you’re interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at this event, contact us here.

Kyklo is bringing the billion-dollar electromechanical industry into digital sales

The electromechanical industry may not be the kind of sexy tech that you’ll regularly read about in TechCrunch, but we like solutions to problems, and that is why I am about to write about a company in the aforementioned industry. Add in that the startup is based in Asia — Thailand, to be precise — and we have the recipe for a young company to keep an eye on.

Kyklo is the company and it is aimed at bringing the electromechanical space, which is worth over $1 trillion per year across 100,000s of distributors and retailers worldwide, into the digital era. The company operates a service that brings sales channels, inventory and networks online to replace the existing system, which is largely offline.

As of now, for example, if an OEM is selling air conditioning units for a new building development — the industry touches 5-20 percent of every new building via electrical equipment — the process will typically be handled by a reseller who presents a paper-based inventory to the buyer. Kyklo is proposing to take things online by allowing OEMs to lay out their inventory in a web-based shop — like Shopify — which can then be used by the reseller to solicit sales.

The idea may seem elementary, but the benefits go beyond ease of use — a website obviously has plenty of benefits over a physical sales catalog — including increased visibility to the OEM, who previously relied on the reseller for sales data. Resellers themselves also have a more dynamic catalog of products to share with prospective sales leads, which is also designed to feature highly in search engine rankings to help bring in inbound sales leads.

Kyklo began as a Shopify-like solution when it was founded in 2015 by two former employees of Schneider Electric, the $50-billion electric and energy company that is listed in Paris, France. Over the past year, however, the startup refocused into a sales lead and management tool for both OEMs and resellers.

CEO Remi Ducrocq — who started Kyklo with fellow co-founder and CTO Fabien Legouic — told TechCrunch that there was an expectation that simply by launching a store sales leads would land. While Kyklo does optimize search ranking, it works best as an aid for teams by helping coordinate sales leads, giving greater transparency on data — for future sales predictions — making it easy to add new products quickly, and automating much of the process for repeat customers.

Kyklo CEO Remi Ducrocq and CTO Fabien Legouic (left and right) both formerly worked for Schneider Electric

Rather than spending time requests from existing customers with phone calls and emails, resellers can simply provide a link to the catalog and enable customers to handle the re-purchasing process by themselves. That frees up resources to chase new sales and more.

“When we pitch distributors on why they should digitize their sales operations, it is first about how you get your existing customers online. So you shift your business from offline to online and by doing so you’ll get better satisfaction and you’ll be able to saturate your customer base,” Ducrocq said, pointing out that the service has helped some customers add 20 percent more sales from existing customers.

“Considering a distributor has 10 sales guys covering 1,000 customers, the truth is they only spend time with 50 guys who do 80 percent of the orders,” Ducrocq added. “On existing customers, a lot of the work is really admin [so] that’s something you can take off by making it digital.”

Kyklo’s customer base includes Schneider Electric and Thailand-based Interlink, the latter of which told TechCrunch in a statement that it grew revenue from its online business five-fold “in a matter of months” after coming on the Kyklo platform.

The benefit for OEMs is obvious, but initially some resellers were initially unsure of allowing a third-party into the relationship with their supplier (OEM). Kyklo CEO Ducrocq said his company has no interest in entering the reseller space. In fact, it has field agents who accompany resellers to meetings with their major buyers to help them come aboard while it jointly works on data and statistics to help reseller teams target new sales opportunities.

While it is sticking firmly to its position in the sales cycle, the startup does, however, have designs on international expansion. Right now, has customers in seven markets in Asia — Ducrocq is half-French, half-Thai hence the initial location in Bangkok — but already it is casting eyes on the European and North American markets.

U.S.-based Handshake, a B2B sales platform that has raised over $20 million from investors, is perhaps one of the most notable competitors it would come up against, but Kyklo believes its focus on the electromechanical space can help it conquer its niche. The startup is also looking to expand its relationship with existing global customers who it services in Asia to cover new markets that will give it a rolling start to its expansions.

“Right now we’re looking at which two countries we will do in Europe, and where we will go in the U.S.,” Ducrocq said.

In order to aid that expansion, Kyklo has raised funding from investors that include Singapore-based duo SeedPlus and Wavemaker Partners. Ducrocq declined to provide financial details of the round, while he also declined to give financial details on Kyklo’s business.

The company currently has 40 staff in its Bangkok HQ, with a number of remote business development and sales executives. While it plans to increase the number of staff it has outside of Thailand, there is no plan to relocate its main office from Bangkok.

The Kyklo office in Bangkok