Korea’s STIC Ventures-backed hotel booking platform Go2Joy Vietnam (formerly Appro Mobile) has raised $2.3 million in a Series A+ funding round led by HB Investments, DealStreetAsia has learnt.
New investor Platform Partners Asset Management joined existing investors in the round.
The fresh funding comes a year after Go2Joy raised $2.5 million in a Series A round led by STIC Ventures. Wonik Investment Partners, Wadiz Platform and existing investor KB Investment also participated in this round.
The investment comes at a time when the global pandemic-induced movement curbs, lockdowns and social distancing norms have severely impacted the travel and hospitality industry.
According to Go2Joy founder and CEO Simon Byun, 2020 was a tough year for all the companies in the travel sector with the pandemic severely affecting many hotels in Vietnam.
“The company will use the fresh funding to grow further and take the role to speed up digital innovation of domestic industry in Vietnam. In addition, Go2Joy will start to explore the opportunities to expand its service to other markets such as Thailand and the Philippines,” he added.
Appro Mobile was set up in 2012 by Korean entrepreneur Simon Byun, one of the founding members of S-Fone, the CDMA telco project of South Korean telecom giant SK Telecom.
Go2Joy allows customers to book hotels by the hour or overnight and pay through e-wallet Payoo, Momo, Payoo and OnePay.
During the pandemic, Simon said that the firm was discussing with investors ways to adjust this year’s KPI target matrix to prolong the runway. The startup is also refocussing its marketing efforts on online channels.
According to HB Investment director Bae Sung Hwan, Go2Joy’s main focus market is local and intra-bound hotel demand, which is less affected by Covid-19.
“After the pandemic is over, tourists will come back to Vietnam. But, it may not be as good as before. Instead, intra-bound travel will boom just like in Korea where it replaced overseas travel demand. Go2Joy can lead the new trend as it is focused on catering the local needs,” he told DealStreetAsia.
Based in Korea, HB Investment has been investing in SMEs with a potential for steady growth and profitability.
In Vietnam, the investment firm backed the $5.5-million Series A round in Vietnam-based OKXE.vn, an online marketplace for motorcycles. The funding round was led by South Korean venture capital firm Partners Investment.
Platform Partners Asset Management’s VC division head Chris Kim added “post-pandemic I do believe the travel & hospitality sector will boom again in Vietnam. Vietnam is one of the major travel hubs in South East Asia.”