WEBUY, a Singapore-based social e-commerce platform that runs on a group buying model, has raised US$6 million in its Series A funding round led by venture capital (VC) firm Wavemaker Partners.
Other investors for the round include Telkom Indonesia VC arm Centauri Fund and a unit of South Korea's KB Financial Group, with continued support from Global Founders Capital (GFC) - Rocket Internet VC's investment division.
The latest funding brings the startup's total funding to US$9 million, including a seed round backed by GFC, Webuy said on Thursday in a press statement.
Ir will use the funding for hiring purposes across its three markets - Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia - to improve its platform and further expand its regional footprint into South-east Asia. It is eyeing the Vietnam and Philippine markets.
Webuy was co-founded by Vincent Xue, who co-founded e-commerce platform ezbuy and was the latter's chief strategy officer. The startup launched in August 2019 as an online site in Singapore, and later expanded its reach to Malaysia in January 2020 and to Indonesia in May 2020.
Webuy's platform mimics social media influencer-driven interactions to increase the visibility of small merchants with e-commerce customers. It helps customers buy food and beverage (F&B) products in bulk to garner more discounts and deals.
The platform supports 3,000 "group leaders" who regularly update their buyer communities with the latest offers and product offerings, influencing their purchases. These group leaders have collated and purchased orders for more than 100,000 consumers in Webuy's three markets, it said.
Webuy's priority to value-add to its social capabilities will be accelerated through its partnership with ByteDance in the first quarter of 2021, it said. It also has partnerships with organisations such as Taiwan Trade Center Singapore to offer customers international and local F&B products.
Mr Xue said South-east Asian consumer habits are driven more by influence rather than necessity. "If social media platforms dictate consumption trends, Webuy's social e-commerce platform aims to reconstruct the act of daily consumption and interaction," he added.
Centauri Fund investment director Shannon Lee said observations of the social commerce space lead Centauri Fund to believe that this concept is well suited for South-east Asia.
Wavemaker Partners general partner Gavin Lee said: "Webuy's lead in this unique social movement within South-east Asia's e-commerce industry excites us to be a part of this new age of shopping, where community interactivity, good value and convenience converge."
GFC venture partner Jay Lim noted that Webuy's approach of offering highly sought after curated products at lower prices has worked well for them before and during the Covid-19 period.