Earlier in the year, Singapore-based online marketplace for tours and travel activities BeMyGuest was crowned as one of the winners of Channel News Asia’s inaugural Start-UP Asia competition. It will be exhibiting at Startup Marketplace Echelon 2014.
Clement Wong, Founder and CEO, BeMyGuest, told e27 that there were a number of attributes that factored into its win, including its core team of experienced travel veterans and ability to convey customer validation, which was shown on the television programme through one of the challenges.
For example, it has hired Sandra Ho, the former Global Head of Finance at Wego, as its current Chief Financial Officer; Olalla Rey, who was previously at Expedia, the current Director of Partnerships and Revenue Management; Holger Jehle, a PhD holder in Computer Science, as its Chief Technology Officer.
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The win also ensured BeMyGuest’s latest investment of S$1 million (US$800,000), led by TNF Ventures, with additional follow on strategic investments from Korean online travel agency TideSquare; Match.com’s Adrian Ong; Wong Shung Toon, Founder, The Analytics Company, and CEO, Cornerstone Asia; and others.
The company had previously received S$500,000 (US$400,000) from TideSquare and other investors, and acquired former competitor Indiescapes.
Correction: The previous round was set at S$635,000 (US$508,000), and not S$500,000 (US$400,000).
In addition, as part of the latest deal, Foo Jixun, Partner, GGV Capital, will join BeMyGuest as an Advisor. He currently serves on the board of directors of multiple China-based companies like Qunar, Youku-Tudou and Tujia, and Southeast Asian taxi booking app GrabTaxi.
While BeMyGuest is not the only company to win the startup competition, it is, however, the only Singaporean company to receive investment through the competition, claimed the entrepreneur.
Wong added that the firm will use the new injection of funds to scale its operations regionally. Going forward, it will expand and set up its second office in Manila, the Philippines. There are currently 35 staff members across all operations.
Furthermore, it will look into scoring strategic distribution partnerships with travel companies that complement its offering. In return, these companies can “appreciate the additional monetisation that BeMyGuest can provide,” he said.
Blanca Menchaca, Partner and Chief Marketing Officer, BeMyGuest, also commented, “We’re changing the way traditional tour agencies do business by providing our partners with free technology to help grow their businesses online and immediately connect with travellers instead of via traditional offline travel agencies.”
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As a member of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, and licensed by Singapore Tourism Board, the company’s services extend far beyond being just an online marketplace. It helps smaller operators within the travel ecosystem go online by giving them a content and booking management technology for free, and helping them with content optimisation and copywriting.
“In addition, BeMyGuest’s peer-to-peer model allows locals to reach travellers seeking authentic travel experiences and as a result, contribute to Asia’s collaborative consumption economy,” added Menchaca.