Travel activities startup KKday lands investment from Alibaba and Line

Taiwan’s KKday, a startup in the increasingly competitive travel activities space, has pulled in an undisclosed funding round that adds two strategic investors to its business: Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba and Japanese chat app company Line. KKday was founded in 2015 to help people who travel overseas to find and book activities, ranging from tours […]

Taiwan’s KKday, a startup in the increasingly competitive travel activities space, has pulled in an undisclosed funding round that adds two strategic investors to its business: Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba and Japanese chat app company Line.

KKday was founded in 2015 to help people who travel overseas to find and book activities, ranging from tours to tourist attraction, transportation, museums and more. The company said it offers over 20,000 “unique experiences” in over 500 cities across 80 countries. There is much potential to move into, it seems, with analyst firm Phocuswright predicting that the travel tour and activities market will grow by one-third to reach $183 billion by 2020.

Unlike Hong Kong-based regional rival Klook, which is valued at over $1 billion and has ventured into Europe and the U.S, KKday is focused on Asian markets only.

We last wrote about the startup in January when it raised a $10.5 million round led by Japanese travel operator H.I.S, and this new Series B funding round is led by Alibaba’s Taiwan-based entrepreneur fund and Line Ventures, the VC arm connected to Japan’s leading chat app.

KKday CEO Ming Chen told TechCrunch in an interview that the two will help KKday with its efforts in China and Japan. Alibaba initially made an investment in July, this new deal represents a follow-up and it’ll see more emphasis placed on KKday’s branded store on Alibaba’s Fliggy travel store in China. Interestingly, Alibaba’s fund has also invested in another Taiwan-based activities service, FunNow.

Similarly, KKday will double down on Japan, where Chen said the company has seen “huge growth” thanks in a large part to its relationship with H.I.S. — a 38-year-old firm which has offices in 150 cities and $5.5 billion in annual sales. Chen, who thinks KKday may be Japan’s largest travel activities booking platform already, said Line will introduce a dedicated ‘Travel’ account that ties into the KKday service to allow Line users to book activities and share details with friends without leaving the messaging app.

Chen and KKday CMO Yuki Huang explained that the company is always open to strategic investments where it believes it can find business value.

“We’re very focused on looking for strategic investors not just money,” Huang said.

Others in the round announced today include existing investors CDIB Capital from Hong Kong and Monk’s Hill Ventures in Southeast Asia. That, added to Alibaba in China/Taiwan and H.I.S and Line in Japan, gives KKday a balanced investor base to help its business in those regions, Huang added.

KKday’s main rival is Klook and a Taiwanese competitor is FunDay, but a plethora of companies have sprouted to offer similar services in other parts of the world. Those include Peek in the U.SCulture TripGetYourGuideHeadout and WithLocals. Still, KKday is sticking to its Asia focus for now, according to Chen and Huang.

New unicorn Klook raises $200M to expand its travel activities platform worldwide

Klook, a Hong Kong-based startup developing a travel activities platform, has pulled in $200 million in new capital to fuel a major expansion into the U.S. and Europe. A spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the round values the company at more than $1 billion, although the company didn’t provide an exact figure. Klook sets out […]

Klook, a Hong Kong-based startup developing a travel activities platform, has pulled in $200 million in new capital to fuel a major expansion into the U.S. and Europe. A spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the round values the company at more than $1 billion, although the company didn’t provide an exact figure.

Klook sets out to make booking travel activities as easy as arranging flights and hotels. That could mean visits to adventure parks, scuba diving, more localized tours or basics such as train travel, food or airport transfers, all of which can be found, paid for and taken using Klook’s platform. The company claims to offer more than 50,000 activities and services from 5,000 partners in over 200 destinations across the world. The startup claims its platform is on track to gross $1 billion in bookings — which is not take home revenue — for this year.

That booking milestone is “not just a representation of how Klook has grown but also a representation of this space,” Klook co-founder and COO Eric Gnock Fah told TechCrunch in an interview. “A lot of people thought this was a very niche sector, but it is proving to be a very valuable industry [and] we’re glad to be the leader.”

There’s plenty of evidence to support that. Travel giant Booking.com jumped into the space via an acquisition earlier this year, while TripAdvisor and Airbnb are pushing the activities side of their businesses, too. More direct competition to Klook includes Taiwan’s KKday, which is aligned with Japanese travel giant H.I.S., U.S.-based Peek, Culture Trip, GetYourGuide and Headout.

Klook is the best-funded by some mile, having raised plenty of capital over the past year or so. It closed a $30 million Series B in March 2017 before adding a $60 million Series C the following October, and this new round takes it to nearly $300 million to date.

The new deal sees existing backers Sequoia China, Matrix Partners, and Goldman Sachs return to put in more capital. They’re joined by first-time investors China’s Boyu Capital, Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) — which has backed Airbnb among others — and Israel’s OurCrowd, while an undisclosed Asian sovereign wealth fund and unnamed family offices also took part.

Four-year-old Klook has been in expansion mode for the past year, opening offices in London and Amsterdam and growing its headcount to 600 staff across 16 offices, predominantly in Asia. That’s up from 400 people across 13 offices last October.

Now, the company is eying the U.S. and a greater share of Europe. That’s not new, per se, Gnock Fah last year told us that North America was in the roadmap, but now the company has confirmed it’ll open a U.S. office before the end of 2018.

“It’s very likely to be East Coast — New York — where we’d start off in the U.S., but I believe we’ll scale up to have teams on the West Coast and probably mid-West, too,” Gnock Fah said. “We also continue to be expanding in Europe and look for the next location to set up more offices.”

This goal push is two-fold. It’s aimed at tapping into the increased demand for global travel from Asian tourists, and particularly those in China, whilst also bringing Western travelers to Asia where they can tap into Klook’s ecosystem of activities and services.

“This round is really gearing up to global expansion,” Gnock Fah said. “There’s still plenty of growth in Asia but now we will be really accelerating our growth into the U.S. and Europe. We’re really entering the global stage [and attracting an investor like] TCV is a testament to what we’re looking to achieve as a global player.”

The Klook COO also added that the company is seeking to open a new R&D center to supplement its existing tech hub that’s located in Shenzhen. The location for that new office is likely to be in Asia, he added, although its efforts will support the business worldwide.