Exclusive: MY’s Tapway to secure bridge round funding of over $139k

Tapway's homepage

Tapway Sdn Bhd, a retail and location analytics solution provider, is looking to secure a bridge round funding upwards of MYR500,000 ($138,700), as the company looks to scale its business.

A source in the know said the exact figures of the funding is still under wraps but the parties involved were a Japanese venture capital (VC) firm and an Australian investor.

This round of funding will be Tapway’s second, the first being a pre-seed round from an undisclosed angel investor at MYR150,000 ($41,600). “The investors will be strategic ones, who are able to help Tapway grow regionally and globally in this industry,” the source said.

The source also said that the funding deal is expected to be sealed in mid-May or end of this month.

When contacted, co-founder Justin Loh confirmed to DEALSTREETASIA that the company was indeed looking to raise a bridge round funding but did not verify the amount to be raised. “We have signed the term sheets but the deal is not completed yet, so we prefer not to say anything (on the amount raised), yet,” he said.

In an interview with local media The Star, Loh had said that Tapway was looking to raise MYR500,000 to scale the business. “We need a lot of improvement based on our beta testing. We have feedback already and are adding features. There’s a lot of R&D going on,” he said.

Loh said that the company was self-funded in its early days before receiving the angel investment last year. That pre-seed fund, however, has been utilised to develop its location analytics solution and Tapway is ready to take another step further.

“We want to lengthen our runway. This year, we have a sales target of MYR1 million. If we hit that, we will be able to leverage off our track record and talk to bigger investors in the future,” Loh said.

It is understood that Tapway has been approached by some notable Malaysian VCs; as it is yet to build a substantial business traction, the firms have put the investment idea on hold.

The VCs, whose investment appetite was for larger deals, will observe Tapway’s bridge round funding as well as its business growth before entering the picture. “We need to go fast and own the market before the US players come in. If they do before we have traction, we will be crushed,” Loh said, using an analogy of “riding the right wave rather than being swept away in the currents”.

In its early days, Tapway was involved in near field communication (NFC) technology. However, during its participation in the Alliance Bank SME Innovation Challenge in 2013, founder and CEO Lim Chee How and Loh decided to pivot, to use wifi technology.

To their credit, the panel of judges in the challenge applauded their pivot. “We decided to change our business towards the end of the challenge and so we only had an idea to present,” Loh shared, “But the judges said it was a better idea than our earlier NFC model.”

Loh said the NFC solution was challenging business as clients will need to coax shoppers and end users to take certain actions to collate behavioural data. “To form shopper habits is very difficult, people are resistant when you ask them to carry out actions. So we moved to wifi technology where shoppers or end users are not required to perform any action; there is no app, nothing,” Loh explained.

Tapway’s solution collects actionable data through wifi and the customer’s smart devices. It tracks useful behavioural data like the trail of a typical shopper takes with int a store, the time spent, and so on.

Loh had previously aptly described the solution as the Google Analytics for brick-and-mortar stores. This data, Loh said, becomes useful for retail and food & beverages outlet operators to understand how customers patronise their stores so that they can push out targeted marketing messages, increase retention rate and therefore increase revenue.

Tapway currently has around 10 clients, mostly based in the Klang Valley in Malaysia. From the 10 clients, the solution is being used in over 30 stores.

Also read:

Singapore’s data analytics startup Latize raises Series AA round

Temasek to invest $40m in Indian analytics firm

Aureus Analytics raises $850k seed funding from global angel investors

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.