Malaysia’s Zoom eyes overseas expansion, expects to close Series A in 12 months

Jeevan Kumar (seated left), co-founder and chief executive officer of ZOOM, gives the thumbs up with his team.

After 30 attempts at raising funds, Malaysian on-demand delivery startup Zoom finally secured RM4 million ($1.01 million) in a pre-Series A round early this year led by Gobi Partners.

The latest funding round was joined by Cana Asia Limited, Spiral Ventures, and Cradle Fund. Klang-based Zoom said it will use the funds to expand its operations to Penang and Johor Baru and then explore the Indonesian and Thai markets in 2019.

“Fundraising is a skill and it takes time to get good at it. Being first-time founders, it took us some time to start being able to talk the same language as the investors,” Jeevan Kumar, Zoom’s co-founder and Chief Executive Zoomer, told DEALSTREETASIA.

With other similar startups failing to succeed after securing major funding from investors, Kumar said it took some time for Zoom to break through the noise and show investors that the company is operationally profitable with healthy month-on-month growth.

“We are grateful for the investors and clients who have trusted us with their money and business. Our commitment is to make sure Zoom grows beyond Klang Valley, to Penang and Johor in the third quarter of this year, and to Jakarta and Bangkok by the first quarter of 2019,” he added.

Kumar shares with DEALSTREETASIA his company’s expansion and fundraising plans as well as his advice to budding startups looking to secure funding from investors. Edited excerpts:

Can you talk about Zoom’s business model and how you differ from other startups offering the same services?

Zoom is a technology-enabled on-demand delivery service for businesses to help solve their last-mile fulfilment problem. Mainly, we work with e-commerce merchants and landed vendors (restaurants and specialty stores) to deliver their products to their customers.

We increase efficiency and make the last-mile process easy by using our robust backend that allows vendors to integrate fast (24 hours at maximum), provide advanced tracking and cost optimisation via an automated system that caters to multiple drop-offs. Our platform integrates deeply with the merchant’s pre-existing operations as we would like to offer them the peace of mind of having every parcel delivered. We also offer insurance and have a 99% successful delivery rate.

When Zoom first came to the market, there was a perceived view that most delivery riders were not highly educated. Hence, they were paid poorly and there was no career progression for them. We wanted to create a highly trained force of riders who are presentable, can communicate well and maintain professionalism. So, since day one, we have invested heavily in our riders to make sure that they are able to converse in both English and Malay, and have a career progression through Zoom (going from a rider to rider team leader to rider manager, etc).

Every one of our riders goes through an extensive two-week training before being properly inducted into the Zoom team and we run training on a monthly basis to make sure that we continue building them. On top of that, our platform allows us to track every rider who is on the road and off the road to make sure that we can optimise every delivery in real time.

What is your short-term and long-term vision for Zoom?

Our short-term vision encompasses extending our platform to better serve our clients by continuously iterating it. For example, we introduced COD tracking function. On top of that, we have also extended the platform to support part-time Zoomers, to allow anyone to gain extra income by delivering items. On the integration with pre-existing end, we have just tested out our APIs with our core clients and would like to make this available to every vendor in the coming months.

In the case of expansion, our near target is to expand to Penang and Johor. Services like Zoom thrive in places with bad road infrastructures such as traffic congestion and mapping difficulty. Hence, our overseas expansion will be in Jakarta (prolific for its traffic jams) and Bangkok to name a few.

What are the company’s fundraising plans?

As we expand to Indonesia and Thailand in the coming year, we are exploring new investment opportunities with multiple investors in the region. As we just raised our pre-series A, we are expecting to close our series A in the next 12 months i.e. by the end of 2018 when we show growth from the round of investment we just secured. The funds will be mainly used to expand to the new regions and strengthen the core offer in the current markets we operate in.

How do you maintain a competitive advantage in a market like Southeast Asia?

We always believed that we will stay competitive as long as we make products that solve our customer’s problems better while creating more jobs in the markets where we operate, especially for those who are not fortunate enough to have a tertiary education. Hence, regardless of which market we go next or who are coming into the space to compete with us, our strategy to stay relevant is simple: To have the best product that solves customers problems.

It took you several attempts before garnering funds from investors. Based on your experience, what should startups possess in order to attract investors?

Every good investor thinks the same – they want to bet on the jockey and not on the horse. Through this process, we have learned that in order to attract investors, you need to have a good team of founders that compliment each other to start with. That’s the cornerstone of everything. We bootstrapped our way to show how we could achieve operational breakeven even before we started fundraising, which was a huge factor that attracted investors.

On top of that, we spend most of our marketing budgets on our zoomers and platform to serve our customers better, which ended up paying multiples as our customers ended up introducing more customers to us.

Lastly, we were able to fine-tune our platform to be the best in the market even before meeting the investors. In our opinion, all these in combination showed the investors that we are the right jockeys to the Zoom horse.

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