Alongside BAce Capital, last week’s pre-series C funding round was co-led by Hong Kong-listed Sun Hung Kai & Co. Money also came from investors who used to work at Skype, Starbucks and BNP Paribas. The round valued Loship at $100 million, DealStreetAsia reported. Trung declined to confirm the valuation.
Delivery giants from the region are already trying to warm up U.S. public markets. Indonesia’s Gojek, the ride-hailing business-turned-superapp, is planning a flotation while Singapore’s Grab announced it will merge with Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company Altimeter Growth. Grab, however, has had to push its public debut to the end of 2021 due to new regulatory requirements.
The first Vietnamese company to float in the U.S., infrastructure business Cavico, was delisted from the Nasdaq for missing securities filings deadlines in 2011, less than two years after its debut.
VNG, a gaming and messaging giant, was striving to be Vietnam’s next U.S. listing but has been quiet since starting talks with Nasdaq in 2017. More recently, U.S.-based SPACs have approached Tiki, Vietnam’s biggest e-commerce company, DealStreetAsia reported this week.
Vietnamese companies face a daunting set of challenges, such as gaining state approval, before they can sell shares abroad.
Trung said the pandemic has pushed many first-time users onto the internet who will keep using the Loship app after COVID wanes.
Most of Loship’s business currently comes from delivering groceries and boxed lunches. It also ferries flowers, medicines and other low-order, high-margin items from warehouses to shoppers.
Another growth strategy was suggested by BAce Capital, whose partners were directors at Alibaba Group and Ant Group. Drawing on their knowledge of Chinese trends, Loship added a game to its app, just as China’s Pinduoduo added gaming to its e-commerce platform.
Trung likened this kind of multifunctionality to a supermarket, where shoppers can wander not knowing what they’ll buy. Loship users may pull up the app intending to play games, not shop, but wind up making purchases. Vietnam’s biggest e-wallet, MoMo, is playing with a similar strategy.
“What happened in China will happen in Vietnam,” Trung said. “Among Vietnamese, we have that saying.”