Spotlight on Gobi’s Women-founded Startups
Since our inception in 2002, Gobi has backed many women founders who have gone on to be successful key industry players in their respective fields. Here are a few of their stories.
Christina Suriadjaja, Travelio
Travelio is an online platform that actively leases and manages vacant and investment homes from property owners and developers. Known as “Indonesia’s Answer to AirBnB”, Travelio strives to deliver to its users a hotel-standard experience and envision tenants as not just merely renting a home — they deserve a warm and comfortable environment, without compromising on high hospitality standards and services.
How It Started
In 2015, Christina co-founded Travelio with Hendry Rusli and Christie Tjong. Since the platform’s inception, the company has managed more than 1,000 apartments and 5,000 rentals across Indonesia. They have also received four rounds of funding. Today, Christina is in charge of the company’s strategy, business development efforts, and fundraising efforts.
Managing Partner Kay-Mok Ku met Travelio through a Gobi intern in Indonesia, Kesley. At the time, Travelio was going through a tough time, trying to pivot from a hotel-booking platform to a rental platform. The model they were pivoting to held similar elements to China’s Tujia. As such, Kay-Mok and the Gobi team brought Christina to China, to meet Chinese angel investors where, due to the promotion of their new model, the company received angel investments. Gobi subsequently invested in the company via their ASEAN SuperSeed Fund, a move that was done even before Travelio had completed their pivoting process. On a human level, Kay-Mok and Gobi observed that Christina was quite distraught and stressed by Travelio’s progress, and the team gave her a lot of encouragement to move forward with her startup. As a result, Christina continued to pursue her passion and has made Travelio into a household name in Indonesia; in 2018, the company doubled in size and earned twice the earnings it achieved in 2017.
Jazz Tan, Youthstoday
YouthsToday is an online platform with a goal of funding, educating and supporting students and young professionals by realizing their ideas into successful projects through experiential events. Youths are able to utilize YouthsToday for marketing campaigns, event promotions and to connect with other young people for knowledge exchanges. The platform has 40,000 active youth event organizers connected to it, and is the first and largest online youth engagement platform in Malaysia.
How It Started
Jazz Tan created the YouthsToday platform in 2013, with the express purpose of keeping young people off the streets. She was inspired to do more for the youth after the untimely death of her father, who was involved in gangsterism and drugs; he passed away when she was just 14 years old. Today, Jazz is a recognized and respected entrepreneur, having been listed on the Prestige Magazine (Malaysia) list of Top 40 Under 40, winning the award for Best ICT in the ASEAN region, and being named as one of the Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs for 2017 by Forbes Asia. She continues to help the youth set a course for their lives and to live their fullest potential.
Jazz’s story touched the Gobi team back in 2016, and she subsequently received funding from Gobi via their ASEAN SuperSeed Fund. Jazz now regularly connects other startups within Gobi’s portfolio to her young audience, and is in talks with some of the firm’s companies to do collaborations on future campaigns and projects.
Norma Chu, DayDayCook
DayDayCook is one of the most popular online cooking platforms in Hong Kong. The company provides their audience with creative recipes and videos to help inspire them to cook and enjoy both traditional and modern Asian cuisine. Their goal is to promote the idea that, “Cooking is an attitude and an enjoyment.”
How It Started
Chu first realised that DayDayCook had the potential to grow into something bigger when Lee Kum Kee came knocking on her online door in 2013, looking to collaborate. “That was our first try at doing [our] branded content,” she says. “Back then I think a lot of people didn’t find [our approach] a viable way to do advertising online, because they thought it was too [much of a] hard sell. But I think we sort of made it work, because the way we design the recipes actually showcases the products [in ways that they are] regularly used.” Since then, DayDayCook has had multiple collaborations with leading food and beverages companies, including Kraft, San Remo and Kellogg’s, to name just a few.
Norma began her business in Hong Kong, where she was discovered by Gobi’s team and funded via the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, which is managed by the firm.
Yuki He, LiveMe
LiveMe is a live broadcasting app that allows you to discover content, meet people, build communities and earn cash rewards. Live.me promotes social online interaction all over the world by chat, live broadcast. Users are able to receive or send virtual gifts to other users and convert them to monetary rewards. Their Series B brings total funds raised by Live.me to a whopping US$110 million.
How It Started
You probably know LiveMe by the live-streaming service of the same name, which is a teen sensation, and boasts almost 50 million users, many of whom have stuck with the service for years. “The most ambitious content creators are the ones who began broadcasting live years ago, but we are continually seeing more and more people of all ages, with all types of talents begin to use live broadcasting instead of other content creation tools,” she said. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially when you reflect on the crowded nature of the livestreaming market. In addition to the likes of Twitch and YouNow, Live.me also has to compete against Twitter and Facebook’s own offerings.
LiveMe is a spin-off from Cheetah Mobile (a Chinese company that is dedicated to doing business in the overseas market). The company saw great potential for livestreaming in the American market, and as such began work on Live.me, which was incubated internally. Once the service was ready, Gobi Partners was the first firm Cheetah contacted to invest in the platform, along with previous backers such as Matrix Partners. Upon meeting Yuki, Gobi was impressed with her capabilities and her drive to travel to and from the United States in order to help the business grow. Yuki is now the bridge between China and the US for Live.me, helping the Chinese company with their cross-border relations and business transactions.
Lucy Yueting Liu, Airwallex
Airwallex is a financial technology company offering integrated solutions to business for cross-border transactions. Airwallex facilitates international money transfers through a combined method of local payment collection, foreign exchange and distribution. The platform is able to support thousands of transactions per second while providing low cost alternatives to existing payment networks for business looking to automate and scale international payment workflows. Supported by high profile investors including Gobi Partners, Tencent, MasterCard and Square Peg Capital, Airwallex brings extensive experience in the Asia Pacific region to the global multi-currency market.
How It Started
Founded in Melbourne in 2015, Airwallex provides a platform for cross-border payments for businesses, with foreign exchange rates in line with inter-bank rates. Still in her twenties, Liu was featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia last year. She completed a Commerce degree and Master of Finance at the University of Melbourne before co-founding Airwallex, and was recently appointed as a board director for FinTech Australia.
Managing Partner for China, Michael Zhu, met Co-founder of Airwallex, Jack Zhang, through a personal friend. Jack had studied in Melbourne, and had found it painful to transfer money from his accounts in China in order to pay for tuition at university. He joined banking upon graduation, and three years later, created Airwallex, which has become the solution to his foreign exchange problems. Lucy was subsequently brought in to handle Human Resources (HR) and Marketing; she complemented Jack’s more business-driven personality and has helped to build team spirit and cares for the staff, frequently organizing team-building exercises and headhunting the best talent for the company. Under her supervision, Airwallex has grown to 250 staff members. Gobi’s contribution to Airwallex’s success began in their early days. Michael and the team introduced Airwallex to customers such as Huangbaoche, and new investors, such as Sequoia China, a firm which has now funded the startup for two rounds.