Why would GREE, with its recently launched last-minute booking app Tonight, invest in a potential competitor?
Last-minute hotel booking app HotelQuickly has been more than swift in bagging funds and rolling out new features.
The Hong Kong-based startup today announced raising US$4.5 million in a Series A-1 financing led by GREE, Inc, a Japanese mobile social company, with participation from William E. Heinecke, CEO and Chairman, Minor International, who has invested through his family office.
Given that GREE (not its ventures arm) had launched its own Japan-based spontaneous hotel booking service Tonight last month, Christian Mischler, COO, CMO and Co-founder, HotelQuickly, told e27 that the partnership makes perfect sense, even though it was initially regarded as “very risky”.
He said, “They (GREE) clearly understand the model. … They have done it themselves.” However, if the deal did not turn out to be successful, HotelQuickly had a lot to lose in terms of important information and intelligence shared with a potential competitor.
Launched in March 2013, HotelQuickly, which is available on Android, iOS and BlackBerry, claims to have netted more than 150,000 registered users and 300,000 downloads.
At the moment, the startup has offerings in 12 markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Geographically, Thailand leads with the most number of bookings, while Taiwan has the most number of users on HotelQuickly, and Singapore generates the most amount of revenue for the company.
According to an official statement, the two parties will go forward with more partnerships in the pipeline, all with the end goal of enhancing the respective services (Tonight and HotelQuickly), through exchanges, sharing of technical expertise and other collaboration methods, in mind.
Mischler added that he wouldn’t completely rule out expanding to Japan. He said, “I think, so far, Tonight has a better sense of the market there.”
The funds will be used to ramp up product development, marketing and hiring efforts in Asia-Pacific. He shared that HotelQuickly is looking to hire five people in Australia, 10 to 15 in Bangkok, Thailand, and market managers throughout the region.
“We’re seeing a clear shift from online to mobile and as traditional booking channels lose ground, there is tremendous opportunity for a service like HotelQuickly in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Heinecke, one of the investors in HotelQuickly.
In September 2013, e27 reported that HotelQuickly had secured US$1.16 million in its first Series A round. The funds had come from angel investors including Boon Hwee Koh, the former chairman of companies like SingTel and Singapore Airlines, who is also the current board member of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.