Gobi Partners co-leads $20m Series C for SG-based AI startup ViSenze

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Shanghai- and Kuala Lumpur-based venture capital firm Gobi Partners and Europe-based corporate venture investor Sonae IM have co-led a $20-million Series C funding round for ViSenze, a Singapore-based artificial intelligence startup that focuses on e-commerce and online advertising.

Other participants in the funding round include new investors Tembusu ICT Fund, 31Ventures Global Innovation Fund, and Jonathan Coon’s Impossible Ventures. Existing investors Rakuten, WI HarperSingapore Press Holdings (SPH) Ventures, Raffles Venture Partners, Enspire Capital, and UOB Venture Management also participated.

The startup, which has offices in the US, UK, China, South Korea, India, and Singapore, develops advanced visual search and image recognition solutions for retailers and publishers.

ViSenze said it uses visual intelligence to analyze image and video content, automatically linking the content to products from online retailers, delivering non-intrusive user experience. The technology enables publishers to facilitate a closer connection between brands and content in a relevant context.

The company’s customers include global retailers such as Rakuten, ASOS, Urban Outfitters, and Zalora. It also partners with smartphone manufacturers including Samsung, LG, and Huawei,

Visenze plans to use the proceeds from the latest funding round to expand its visual commerce technology and enhance its platform solutions.

“Visuals have incredible power and influence over buying decisions, therefore having visual search capabilities within mobile devices delivers a modern, smarter way to ensure discovery by consumers,” said ViSenze CEO and co-founder Oliver Tan.

Since its inception in 2012, ViSenze said it has seen a steady annual revenue growth rate of over 200 per cent. It has also expanded globally with over 80 employees to meet the needs of global customers. It originally started as a part of NExT, a research centre jointly established by National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University of China.

The latest funding round raised ViSenze’s total funding amount to $34.5 million. It last raised $10.5 million in a Series B round in 2016 backed by eight investors.

Gobi Partners managing director Dan Chong said ViSenze’s business has the opportunity to significantly scale up as the e-commerce markets across the world continue to expand and shoppers are becoming more mobile-centric

“As ViSenze helps their clients to capture this group of consumers and adapt to their shopping behavior, the opportunity to scale its business significantly presents itself,” Chong said.

Sonae IM CEO Eduardo Piedade said the technology being introduced by ViSenze will continue to “shape the future of retail” as more retailers and brands now offer visual search capabilities to accelerate the time to shop and improve consumer buying experience. Sonae IM is the technology investment arm of Sonae Group, a multinational with more than €6 billion ($6.8 billion) in revenues and core activities in retail and telecommunications.

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