Eko – a Thai messaging app for workplace settings – has secured US$2 million in funding, it announced today.
The funding comprised a US$1 million strategic investment from Japanese trading house Itucho, which has acquired a 5 percent stake in Eko as a result. The rest of the capital came from existing shareholders who exercised follow-on rights. This values the startup at US$20 million.
Two years ago, Bangkok-based Eko raised US$5.7 million in a series A round led by Gobi Partners. Prior to this it had secured US$1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups and a number of angel investors. Other previous backers include Siemer Ventures and Tigerlabs.
Eko is in a strong financial position and probably won’t be touching the cash for some time… the main driver of the investment is strategic rather than financial.
Eko says it is scaling up for an anticipated series B raise next year, but opted for the strategic investment from Itochu in the interim because of the Japanese corporate’s because international reach.
Founder and CEO Korawad Chearavanont tells Tech in Asia that Eko is in a strong financial position and probably won’t be touching the cash for some time. He says that the main driver of the investment is strategic rather than financial, in order to ignite a partnership between Eko and Itochu. “Japanese companies are among the world’s top spenders in software, and Japan is the world’s second largest enterprise IT market,” he says.
Nevertheless, Eko has ambitions to take its platform to new markets – and to a new clientele beyond the large enterprises in Southeast Asia and China that have so far been its bread-and-butter. Korawad has previously highlighted this as a key point of differentiation with Slack and other office messaging providers.
But now, Eko is also looking to tap the small business segment in an effort to increase the company’s growth rate – a move which is likely to bring it into more direct competition with the likes of Slack, Hipchat, and Yammer. “For that, we are focusing on more developed markets such as Europe, the US, and Japan,” he says.
In addition to establishing a sales presence in both the UK and the US recently, Eko has been concentrating more resources on product development. Thailand remains its largest market, though the company said in a press release that it expects its client base in the kingdom to be overtaken by those in China, the UK, and the US within the next few months. Eko – which offers its platform for a limited free period before requiring users to subscribe to a license – also stated that it currently has over 150,000 recurring paid users.
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