Toku raises US$10 million Series A funding for APAC expansion

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CLOUD communications provider Toku has raised US$5 million in a Series A funding round extension, bringing the Series A funding round total to US$10 million.

The extension was co-led by Delivery Hero Ventures, the venture capital arm of German-based food delivery company Delivery Hero, Malaysian conglomerate OSK Ventures International and venture capital firm Betatron Venture Group.

"With customer experience being a crucial focal point for businesses today, Toku's accelerated expansion across APAC with this funding round will enable more companies to deliver impactful results," said Amelia Ong, executive director and chief executive officer of OSK Ventures International.

Starting out with a telco licence, Toku claims to own over 60 per cent of the virtual numbers in Singapore. But it was the lack of innovation in the sector that led them to move beyond traditional telephony to improve customer experience via communications even in over-the-top channels.

"We connect the communications channels of their choosing in engaging their customers, and collect customer data to ensure the engagement is as relevant and efficient as possible," said Thomas Laboulle, founder and chief executive officer, Toku.

Toku's solutions are delivered via application programming interface (API) and can be integrated into apps and websites, allowing consumers to click to call with one button. Ride-hailing platform Gojek uses Toku to allow for interaction between customers and drivers while hiding the telephone number of either party for lost-and-found cases.

Going beyond just connecting customers and companies, Toku also collects data for companies, from patterns based on timing of calls, the agents handling the customers to sentiment analysis of how customers reacted to certain keywords on a call. All of this can be translated into insights on what would impact outcomes of a call, and help to make it a positive experience for customers engaging with companies.

In the social media era where consumers demand an almost instantaneous response from companies, there is even less time for brands to react to issues. Toku wants to turn that pain point into an opportunity for companies as well as ensure regulatory compliance across markets.

"The regulatory environment in Asia-Pacific is complex to navigate for brands, which is one reason why they are working with us. Toku is able to facilitate the compliance spanning different markets that the companies are operating in," said Laboulle.

The customers Toku has the biggest impact on are those dealing with digital transformation, and needing to move their legacy communications systems to the cloud. From there, conversations about taking the next step with their customer support can happen.

"Instead of customer support as a simple cost centre, it becomes a way to differentiate themselves as a brand. If you have an average customer experience that is excellent, you can deal with problems more easily with customers that have built a loyalty and bond with your company," said Laboulle.

Companies certainly see the value of Toku, with over 200 customers in Singapore and across the Asia-Pacific. While contractually there is a concentration of customers in Singapore, Toku sees more activity from other places such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The acceleration of digital adoption has also aided Toku's revenue numbers, with FY2021's revenue at US$14.4 million compared to US$7.4 million in FY2020, according to company filings on data platform Venture Capital Insights. The startup claims a clear path to profitability, with a compound annual growth rate of 128 per cent over the past four years, including FY2022.

The funding will be used to establish local presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines, building out local offices to support customers in these markets. Toku is also looking to double its headcount to 200 by 2024.

"We have a global reach, but we have a hyper-local focus in Asia-Pacific. We want to expand further by having a local presence in the countries we're operating in and build out a strong partner ecosystem in these countries to do direct sales and sales via partners," said Laboulle.

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