Malaysian commerce startup Belazee bags pre-Series A funding led by DeNA, Fenox

Belazee founders, from left: Puvanendren M. Maniam, Adlin Yusman and Suthenesh Sugumaran.

Malaysian commerce startup Bemalas, or Belazee as it’s known regionally, has raised a fresh round of undisclosed funding co-led by Japanese venture firm DeNA and Silicon Valley-based Fenox Venture Capital.

RIMU Group from Singapore too participated in the round.

This investment is the first for all three parties in Malaysia.

This follows a $500,000 seed funding Belazee raised in June 2015, in a co-investment deal by KK Fund and Cradle Fund.

Belazee will channel its funds into building their proprietary technology platform and strengthen their market leadership in all of their operating countries, the company said.

The company was founded by Adlin Yusman, Suthenesh Sugumaran and Puvanendren M. Maniam in May 2015.

Yusman told DEALSTREETASIA that the funds will be channeled into the startup’s technology development, which will entail the introduction of a mobile app.

“We are planning to launch the app in Malaysia by the end of January, and in the other markets that we are in later on. Every country will have its own app, better suited to the different needs of the consumers there,” he said in an interaction.

Belazee is moving away from its SMS-only concierge business model, to a commerce platform to service its customers. It is Asia’s first “conversational commerce platform”, with omni-channel chat functionality and a full-fledged e-commerce store.

“We are moving away from the SMS model. Our commerce platform will be launched this month as well, which will make the user experience more seamless and quicker,” he said, noting that building a commerce platform is a capital-intensive matter, hence the funding needed for it.

Yusman added that both the app and commerce platform will be available in all its existing markets within the first quarter of this year.

“We started the commerce platform because people wanted things they could not get in the stores in their countries. We help them to buy it, and we deliver the item to them,” he said of Belazee “making commerce conversational again”.

The pre-Series A funds will be used solely for its technology roll-out, Yusman shared with DEALSTREETASIA, noting that the company will hold back on geographical expansion for the next six to eight months as it gears up for a Series A round of funding.

“We are targeting to raise our Series A in the next six to eight months, and then the funds will drive our expansion into more emerging markets, before we go into more mature markets,” he said.

The company presently handles 30,000 requests monthly across five cities – Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Metro Manila, Ho Chi Minh city and Brunei.

“We intend to infuse the interactivity back into commerce,” he added.

KK Fund general partner, Koichi Saito noted that Belazee is the firm’s third investment in Malaysia, which “goes to show the strength of the Malaysian startup ecosystem”.

DeNA’s senior vice president of strategic investment office, Masatoshi Fukasawa believed that Belazee is the best growing mobile concierge service in Southeast Asia, which the firm wants to support and collaborate with.

Fenox general partner Anis Uzzaman said: “Belazee is uniquely placed to lead the on-demand concierge business in SEA. It is a pleasure to support Belazee through the journey and growth.” RIMU Group commented that it believed conversational commerce will be the next big thing and, given founders’ expertise, Belazee will definitely be the go-to platform in Southeast Asia.

Yusman noted that while there are competitors throughout the region, none of them have the regional reach Belazee has.

Also read: Cradle Fund, KK Fund co-invest $500k in Malaysia based Be Malas

Malaysia’s on-demand PA service Helpr raises seed funding from 500 Startups

Malaysia: Supahands raises seed funding from ADIF, 500 Startups

VC KK Fund invests extensively in Malaysia: Report

Malaysia: Cradle Fund partners four more equity co-investors, fund size surpasses $25m

India: On-demand concierge service JoeHukum raises seed funding from TraxcnLabs, others

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.