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Investment  9, Apr 2014

[Update] Workplace chat app Eko secures US$1M from 500 Startups and others

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Enterprises are sick of the same old chat solutions that are stuck in the 90s. Here’s one that might improve things

Thailand- and US-based technology company Eko Communications today announced that it has completed a seed round with US$1 million in funding from 500 StartupsTiger Labs, and Siemer Ventures. Other angel investors who joined the investment include Supachai Chearavanont, CEO and President, True Corporation; Khailee Ng, Venture Partner, 500 Startups; Sammy Lee, Executive Chairman, Infinitus Health; Bert Navarrette, Managing Partner, Tigerlabs Ventures; and Stanley Cheung, EVP, Walt Disney Company.

The international company’s flagship product Eko allows large enterprises to communicate, delegate and store data on a dedicated server. While it allows users to take advantage of most of the features for free, those looking to have a dedicated server, custom app icon and app name can contact Eko for pricing details. An official release noted that since its launch last September, the product has been “deployed and adopted by companies representing a total of US$3.3 billion in revenue”.

Also Read: Track employee performance with billionaire Fred Mouawad’s TaskWorld

The startup’s Co-founders come from slightly different walks of life. Its CEO, Korawad Chearavanont is a 19-year-old student at Columbia University. However, he has had experience working in organisations like True Corporation, IBM and the Shanghai World Exposition. Having been raised by a family of entrepreneurs, the teenager started Eko from his dormitory room with friends during high school. His Co-founder and CTO, on the other hand, is a David Zhang, whose age was not disclosed and has worked with NASA on the Curiosity Rover project, according to the official statement.

Khailee Ng, Venture Partner, 500 Startups, commented on his decision to invest in the company, saying, “Modern enterprises are already mobile savvy, using consumer apps like WhatsApp or WeChat to communicate with colleagues. However, these apps are not designed to meet enterprise needs, Eko is.”

In the market, there are similar apps available — both on mobile and the desktop space. Competitors include Typetalk, Hipchat and Zulip. While Typetalk is still new to the market, having been launched by Japan’s Nulab a few months back, Hipchat’s parent company Atlassian was today announced to be valued at US$3.3 billion. Zulip, on the other hand, was only acquired by Dropbox last month.

“People have been touting mobile as ‘the future’ for a while now. It’s already here. It’s here to stay. What will mobile do to transform workplaces? This is our mission. And this is a good start,” said Chearavanont.

Update April 18: Added Siemer Ventures as one of Eko’s investors.

Elaine Huang

Elaine Huang

Elaine is a fervent believer that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, we will all be snapping away at them with our phones and posting them onto Instagram. A Mass Communication graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies, she enjoys writing about technology and entrepreneurs. When not hashtagging her way through all sorts of trouble, Elaine is probably contemplating how to write in the third person.

  • Tony

    Chearavanont raised from Chearavanont?

  • Kevin Wong

    Tony, it’s self funding. Do you think $ 1million would need such funding syndication? Self funding is ok. Chearavanont should proudly speak as they don’t need other VCs to join.

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