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Getting to Know Hong Kong’s Unicorn Startups
by: The Beat Asia
A unicorn startup refers to a private company with a valuation that exceeds US$1 billion. With Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial centre, many believe that they could be the next one.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said during a press conference that the number of startups in Hong Kong has reached a record high. This goes to show that despite the current situation, the city is “still an attractive place to do business” and many entrepreneurs are still eager to start their ventures.
It may not be now, but if you’re planning to set up a business in Hong Kong, you might want to look into these unicorn startups for future reference.
Founded by Steven Lam Hoi-yuen, Nick Tang Kuen-wai, and Reeve Kwan Chun-man, GoGoVan is an on-demand ride sharing service that focuses on freight transportation in urban areas.
The company started in 2013 when its co-founders realized that it was difficult to organize van transport in Hong Kong. During its first year, more than 100,000 users downloaded its app and over 7,000 drivers registered to use its service. At present, it operates in five Asian countries: Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, India, and South Korea.
GoGoVan became Hong Kong’s first unicorn in 2017 after it merged with China-based freight company 58 Suyun. 58 Suyun is the logistics arm of 58 Home, the largest online marketplace in China.
In July 2020, to celebrate GoGoVan’s seventh anniversary, the company rebranded to GOGOX to build a clear marketing positioning and convey their long-term development strategy.
Lalamove is one of Asia’s leading local delivery platforms, connecting users with drivers on its mobile and web apps. Founded in December 2013 by Shing Chow Shing-yuk, Gary Hui, and Santit Jirawongkraisorn, the company was called EasyVan before it was renamed to Lalamove in 2014.
Similar to GoGoVan, the co-founders found it difficult and time-consuming to use call centres (which takes about 20 or more minutes) to book delivery vehicles. There was also a lack of transparency in pricing and availability, so they decided to create their own solution and made on-demand delivery possible to anyone. At present, it serves Asian cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei, and Manila. It has also expanded and commenced operations in Latin America.
Lalamove reached unicorn status after it announced a US$300 million Series D funding round in 2019.
Klook has made booking travel activities as easy as arranging flights and hotels. It has redefined the tourism market by working directly with local sellers to bring value-added experiences to customers who love to travel. Founded in 2014 by Bernie Xiaokang Xiong, Eric Gnock Fah, and Ethan Lin, the company aims to support communities by partnering with responsible tour operators and social enterprises. By removing the need for a middleman, Klook’s partnerships guarantees that the beneficiaries of their initiatives are the operators and communities themselves.
Klook reached the unicorn status in August 2018. In 2017, it closed a US$30 million Series B deal in March and a US$60 million Series C deal in October.
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