Vietnamese influencer platform Hiip raises funding from Expara, others

Singapore-based early stage investment fund Expara and individual investors have made an undisclosed funding round in Hiip, Vietnam’s first automated influencer platform.

Hiip was incubated in CLAS Expara Startup Accelerator, which the Singapore fund operates with Microsoft in Vietnam.

The funding is a follow-on investment to the Expara acceleration grant, Phi Nguyen, founder and CEO of Hiip, revealed to DEALSTREETASIA.

Christian Schaefer, managing partner of Asia Counsel law firm, and Eric Rosenkranz, former CEO for APAC and Latin America at Grey Global Group, joined Expara in the investment. In conjunction with the funding, Rosenkranz has become the chairman of Hiip.

The proceeds will be used to upgrade the startup’s product and expand its market to reach more brands and influencers, said Nguyen.

Officially launched in April 2016, Hiip, using social data and matching algorithms to help brands and advertisers connect with social influencers, has garnered more than 1,000 social sensations who are already registered to the platform. It claims to have grown 50 per cent month on month in the number of customer bookings.

Brands are allowed to create campaigns, and they will be matched with the right influencers based on the campaign specific requirements and influencer data.

“For a very long time, brands in Vietnam used to choose influencers based on subjective feelings. We want to change that by helping them choose the right influencers based on data,” said Nguyen.

While major companies in Vietnam have traditionally been using the images of top celebrities to promote their brands, Hiip aims to ride on the increasing use of social media in the country with 45 per cent Internet penetration rate. The aim is to select the right promoters for a wider base of businesses at lower costs.

In addition, while other players in Asia are operating as agencies, Hiip acts as a platform so that the company’s network can grow more rapidly and effectively, Nguyen tells DEALSTREETASIA.

“We invest in innovative products that solve painful customer problems in fast-growing markets and Hiip definitely fits that bill. They have a strong team and are set for regional expansion,” commented Douglas Abrams, founder and CEO of Expara.

“Currently influencer marketing is only available to multi-national and big local corporations. With Hiip, we aim to help thousands of local brands to connect and cooperate with the correct social influencers,” added Rosenkranz.

Also read:

Exclusive: Expara Vietnam Accelerator to come in as first investor in graduating startups

Microsoft, Singapore VC Expara, CLAS launch startup accelerator in Vietnam

Exclusive: First close for Expara’s S$30m fund

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.