This is Gobi Partners’ third announcement this week. DEALSTREETASIA had earlier reported on Monday that Gobi has led a seed round of $250,000 in YouthsToday, and a $1 million seed round in RecomN. All three are Malaysia-based companies that have plans to go regional.
The websites under Nuren Group are: Wedding.com.my, a wedding portal for potential brides and grooms in Malaysia, which was launched September 2013; Nuren.sg, a similar wedding website for those in Singapore launched early last year; and Motherhood.com.my, a portal for mothers in Malaysia launched late last year.
The funds will be used to help Nuren speed up its growth of user and sales numbers across all target markets and verticals. The company has plans to increase headcount to hit its growth targets, improve it e-commerce systems and its sales conversion.
Going places and making money
Speaking to DEALSTREETASIA, Petrina Goh, CEO and co-founder, Nuren Group, said that the company is planning to expand into Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines in the next three to five years. Currently, the firm has operations in Malaysia and Singapore.
“First of all, because we’re targeting female consumers,” she said, explaining the company’s decision to enter those markets in the near future, “we think that there is a growing middle class in these countries, and these countries are emerging markets and we think that there are a lot of awareness and spending in terms of wedding products, services and motherhood and baby products.”
Through Wedding.com.my, which is the only subsidiary under the Nuren umbrella that is actually generating revenue, the whole company makes close to seven-figures every month. However, it is not yet profitable.
Currently, there are three income streams available to Nuren Group. Firstly, wedding vendors can pay a subscription fee to advertise on the website to reach out to potential customers.
Secondly, soon-to-weds can purchase products off the Wedding.com.my e-commerce site where they can buy anything from wedding dresses to wedding cakes to honeymoon packages.
Lastly, the company has a team of three wedding consultants, whom couples can talk to regarding D-day itself, and charge vendors a referral or marketing fee for connecting the latter with new customers.
“We don’t charge for consultations but we do charge for coordination. So for example, if they (couples) need additional services like a coordinator on their wedding, that’s the additional service that we charge,” said Goh.
Since Wedding.com.my started its wedding consultant service earlier this year, it has been helping plan eight weddings a week, claimed Goh. By the end of this year, the team is looking to reach out to about 150 to 200 weddings in Malaysia alone.
The company is planning to roll out a marketplace for Motherhood.com.my a few months down the road as well. Products that will be available on Motherhood.com.my include diapers, infant and toddler food, feeding accessories, strollers and gadgets, nursing and bedding, toys and apparel and early learning materials and courses.
According to Goh, currently, the biggest source of revenue for Nuren Group is still through advertising sales. However, going forward, she expects the money from e-commerce and consulting services to make up about 60 to 70 per cent of the company’s total revenue pie.
Say “I do” to starting up
“It’s actually a personal reason,” said Goh, adding, “when we started, I was planning my own wedding. That was about three, four years ago. I couldn’t find enough information, and I didn’t have a very good consultant to refer to. I had a wedding planner but she was not as good as I hoped. So, I didn’t have my dream wedding.”
But instead of becoming jaded, the former Accenture Consulting and CIMB executive started helping her friends plan their weddings and other events, and realised that there needs to be an outlet where people can find information about wedding planning easily. She turned to the Internet.
“I can share all my information, all the contacts I’ve collected while I was planning the wedding, to not only my friends but also a community of brides,” she said.
“Of course, besides that, I also enjoy doing something that is my passion. I’ve always liked to plan and host events, so this was something I like to do,” added the entrepreneur.
Recalling early days, Goh shared that one of the biggest challenges Nuren Group faced (back then, it was only known as Wedding.com.my) was understanding how to utilise the resources available to the team.
“We had to get our hands dirty because we don’t have an army of people to assist us,” she said, explaining that the company was started with just her, Kelvin Leow (her co-founder) and one employee. Funds were limited as well, at least until they managed to secure MYR 1 million (now about $250,000) from N Capital Partners and two other angel investors in May 2015.
Recruitment was a challenge too. “There were so many MNCs and big companies that can offer better salary packages, so we found it a bit hard to attract talent during that time,” she said, adding, “We did a lot of roadshows. … I gave talks on how exciting and how interesting our business was, and working with us. We tried to sell them the vision of the company and the dream.”
Today, as Nuren Group reels in the new round of funding, recruitment has become a lot easier. But Goh and her team of 20 cannot let up. After all, part of the funds will be used to increase the number of new hires in a bid to scale and expand the group’s websites into new markets.