Philippine live-streaming app Kumu has raised around $4-5 million in Series A funding led by Openspace Ventures, according to a statement.
The round was joined by Filipino broadcaster ABS-CBN, Gokongwei-backed Summit Media, and Globe Telecom and Ayala Corporation’s venture arm, Kickstart Ventures. These three entities are owned by the Lopez, Gokongwei and Ayala families respectively, making this an extremely rare co-investment by some of the most powerful business families in the Philippines.
Other participating investors include Gobi Partners’ Core Philippine Fund, and Foxmont Capital Partners, a Filipino venture capital firm and early investor in Kumu. The Filipino startup last raised its $1.2 million seed round led by Summit Media in December 2018.
Kumu had on Monday confirmed to DealStreetAsia that it did close its Series A round from these investors, but declined to verify the total amount raised. Its announcement on Tuesday confirmed the total corpus raised.
Its co-founders, Rexy Josh Dorado and Roland Ros, said that the company has seen a surge of activity as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, with thousands of Filipinos flocking to online apps like theirs to stay entertained and connected with their loved ones.
According to Ros and Dorado, the number of daily live-stream broadcasts on Kumu has shot up 67 per cent to 25,000 since the end-2019. The startup already has a registered user base of 3 million comprising Gen Z and millennials and continues to grow both within and outside the Philippines, where a sizeable number of Filipinos reside and work.
Some 11 million Filipinos live and work across countries like the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Many of them have turned to Kumu as a way to stay in touch with family and friends back home and comprise one of Kumu’s strongest revenue generators.
“About 20 per cent of Kumu’s user base is from outside the Philippines, coming from over 100 different countries around the world. This audience segment alone drives about 50 per cent of our revenue today,” explained Kumu’s president and co-founder Dorado.
Kumu declined to share its revenue numbers but said that it is aiming to hit profitability in the next year or by the time it raises its Series B round.
Meantime, the COVID-19 epidemic has already driven its monthly revenues by over 100 per cent since the end of 2019. The majority of Kumu’s revenues comes from virtual gift purchases (to its influencers), followed by branded content and e-commerce.
Moving forward, Kumu aims to use the fresh capital to develop its tech base and user experience. New features are in the pipeline include an AI-empowered, community-driven live commerce platform which allows users to purchase products while engaging with their favourite live-streamers.
“We’ve really grown to admire companies who have prioritised the tech ecosystems of entire countries,” shared Dorado.
“When I see what Gojek has done in Indonesia, what VNG has done in Vietnam, and more recently what Ookbee recently did in Thailand, in all three cases we’re talking about vastly differently apps, but they have each custom-tailored a tech solution prioritising the voices of the young generation of people in that country.”
“We want to be something similar for the Philippines,” he added.
In the medium to long term, Kumu anticipates branching into other verticals such as online gaming and education. It also foresees itself expanding into other Asian emerging markets later down the line.