Senser, an e-commerce app for fashion and luxury products, raised $40 million in a Series B round from Trustbridge Partners, with Lighthouse Capital as the sole financial advisor for the deal. Most of the funds raised in this round will be used for brand building, user expansion, and investment in technologies.
Senser was founded in 2017, with investment from Blue Lake Capital, Vision Plus Capital, Spade Capital, and Fosun RZ Capital (who participated in angel round and pre-A round).
In its first year, Senser started to build an integrated supply chain for fashion and luxury items across Europe, including sending a team of over 10 people to Italy for offline business development. It took Senser a year to build its initial network.
In the first three years, Senser focused on B2B market, sourcing luxury and fashion items for buyers and retailers. In early 2021, Senser made its foray into B2C market by launching the Senser mobile app. As of today, the app has registered a 60%+ compound MoM GMV growth rate and sold to over 400,000 users with an average transaction value of over 5000 RMB.
The Senser app is integrated with the inventory management system of shopping malls across Europe. New arrivals in those malls will be immediately available on the app as well. As the team told 36Kr, over 70% of the app offerings were new arrivals, sold for 30-40% less than those at a branded store in China. That’s because of the bargaining power Senser gains by sourcing in bulk from shopping malls. Sensor now offers over 600,000 products from more than 3,000 brands, sourced from nearly 1,000 shopping malls across 50 countries and regions including France, Italy and Germany.
Building a supply chain is Senser’s forte, but even so, it hasn’t been an easy feat to pull off. The founder Seamon Shi said, there were several challenges Senser had to tackle. For one thing, Senser was dealing with an enclosed sector. Putting together a supply chain that covers all European luxury shopping malls requires a deep understanding of the products and how they travel throughout the entire system.
There are many things in this business that are counterintuitive. For example, the most sought-after items are also the least available, and one needs a prior and extensive purchase history to get their hands on a much-coveted item. The team has to know the nuts and bolts of every collection of every brand.
Another challenge was the weak infrastructure. When Senser set out in 2017, Europe was twelve years behind China in terms of internet infrastructure. So the team had to build the entire supply chain almost from scratch, from the SaaS system to the non-standard item models,the digital linkages for electronic duty refund, and shipping routes where international cargo can be efficiently sent to Hong Kong and eventually mainland China. It took the team four years to build a complete infrastructure that was good enough for China’s e-commerce retailers.
Senser has hammered out a cost-effective and efficient logistics solution. First, to offer a 100% duty refund (versus 50% if a customer claims on their own), the company established digital linkages with European tax authorities, customs offices and international logistics providers. Senser also built small warehouses in Europe where individual orders from various malls can be stored, packed and shipped in bulk to Hong Kong. The China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC), Senser’s strategic partner, inspect each item, and each qualified item is packed by Senser for customs clearance. On average it takes 10-14 days for a purchase to be delivered to a customer.
According to Mckinsey, China has a nearly 800-billion-Yuan luxury market, accounting for a third of the world’s total. Luxury retail platforms such as Farfetch and Net-A-Porter have also stepped up their investment in China in recent years. Senser’s statistics show that before COVID, 70% of China’s luxury spending happened offline outside of China, but over 20% of post-pandemic luxury spending happened online and the number keeps growing.
Senser’s founder Seamon Shi has over 20 years of experience in online and cross-border retail. He was President of Mei.com and previously held senior positions at LVMH and Nike. The team consists of members that previously worked in tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, Amazon, Meituan, and luxury groups such as Gucci and LVMH.
Within the same week, Momenta, a Blue Lake Capital portfolio company, has announced that it has received significant funding both from General Motors and SAIC Motor.
Momenta is dedicated to reshaping the future of mobility with best-in-class AI technologies. In order to offer solutions that are at least 10 times safer than human drivers, Momenta has pioneered the iterative “flywheel insights”, a three-pronged approach that combines large amount of data, data-driven algorithms and closed-looped automation. This shall accelerate the mass production of its autonomous driving solution Mpilot, and driverless solution MSD, thus enabling a more effective, rapid and massive deployment of driverless technologies.
On September 23rd, General Motors announced that it would invest $300 million in Momenta to accelerate the development of next-generation self-driving technologies for future GM vehicles in China. Julian Blissett, executive vice president of General Motors and president of GM China, said “Customers in China are embracing electrification and advanced self-driving technology faster than anywhere else in the world, and the agreement between GM and Momenta will accelerate our deployment of next-generation solutions tailor-made for our consumers in China.”.
On September 16th, Momenta further announced that it had received additional funding from SAIC Motor, which became Momenta’s biggest institutional investor in the March Series C round. Both parties will further deepen their strategic cooperation in core technologies of intelligent driving, jointly develop full-stack intelligent driving algorithms, accelerate the application L4 autonomous driving in China, and drive the worldwide commercialization of intelligent driving technologies.
Blue Lake Capital, since it became the lead investor of Momenta in the first financing round, has been stepping up its research and investment in autonomous driving. The Blue Lake Capital team aligns itself with Momenta’s mission “Better AI, Better Life”.
China’s new generation of enterprise service providers have entered a period of accelerated growth. Salespeople, as the bridge between value propositions and customer needs, have become increasingly sought-after by SaaS startups.
The growing SaaS market calls for salespeople that are capable of driving more sales, uncovering hidden opportunities, and thriving in an ever-changing market. They are expected to manage the presales and sales processes and work to the satisfaction of their customers. Companies are willing to pay a high premium for such top sales talent when they can find it.
As a champion of enterprise digitization, Blue Lake Capital is committed to scouting and investing in promising SaaS companies and providing them with the support they need to grow. From 14th of August to 4th of September, Blue Lake Capital joined forces with six top-performing portfolio companies and offered the Blue Lake SaaS Sales Bootcamp. We sifted through over 200 applicants and handpicked about 30 HiPos for the four-week bootcamp which featured super salesmen from each of the companies who offered coaching and provided “brain training” each Saturday.
This was the first time Blue Lake Capital unveiled its Sales Enablement Module, whish is a part of its post-investment management program. With the existing resources and expertise of Blue Lake Capital and its portfolio companies, The goal of this bootcamp is to find a new path for talent development which can bring much-needed fresh blood to our portfolio companies and the wider SaaS community.
(Six Super Salesmen：Yao Yiming – President, Zhenyun Technology;Su Pengde – Head of Sales of Helios；Lu Haiming – Head of Sales for East China, Moka; Xue Gang – Executive Assistant to President, Zhenyun Technology; Xie Weihu – CEO, One Contract Cloud; Jin Hengjie – Head of Presales, Tanma SCRM)
Sales is an art about people. It is also a science and skill. Drawing on the vast real-world experience of the coaches, the bootcamp was a complete sales training framework we put together and repurposed specifically for the SaaS sector.
顺造科技当前两大业务线包括米家产品线以及自有品牌产品线。目前米家产品线品类持续扩充，继车载便携吸尘器以及手持吸尘器K10 Pro后，顺造科技还成为了米家扫地机器人产品与洗地机产品的合作企业，其中首款旗舰产品K10 Pro在上市首月完成了3000多万销售额。自有品牌方面，顺造科技也在持续围绕不同价格区间，进行不同梯队的产品部署，同时基于家庭清洁场景、出行清洁场景以及户外清洁场景进行品类创新拓展。
这也让我们反思，如果我们一直做Tier 2（二级供应商）的话，永远会被Tier 1（一级供应商）卡脖子。
Tier 1是做系统集成，负责生产管理项目管理的工作，Tier 2是做模组模块，但是如果不做Tier 1的话，连客户需要什么模块都不知道。
王磊：我们的路线是先做Tier 1，未来再做Tier 2。
做产品和Tier 2的话，它的增长曲线不是线性的，研发投入、迭代、市场培育用户需要一个过程，无法实现快速创新，所以一开始发展比较慢，但过了拐点后它会增长很快，但是到对于做Tier 2的创业公司而言，能不能在到达拐点之前还活着，这是一个问题。
做Tier 1 是一件重投入的事情，因为大客户对于你的机器的先进程度、品质控制体系、场地、服务能力都提出了非常高的要求。
On August 10th, Forbes released its 2021 Cloud 100 List. This list, produced in collaboration with Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures, is the definitive ranking of the world’s top private cloud companies. JST, a Blue Lake Capital portfolio company, is one of three Chinese companies to make the list.
Forbes uses four factors to evaluate hundreds of private cloud companies and identify the standouts: market leadership (35%), estimated valuation (30%), operating metrics (20%), and people and culture (15%). Dozens of public cloud CEOs helped score and rank their private peers.
Founded in 2014, JST has been committed to developing cross-platform ERP systems for numerous enterprises. Tasked with addressing customer demands and pain points, JST leverages the synergistic nature of SaaS to connect the entire e-commerce value chain from upstream to downstream. Today, the company has grown to become a SaaS ERP platform that offers a diverse range of services to merchants. As of today, JST operates over 80 outlets across China, covering 350 cities, with a team of over 2000 people providing timely and quality services to its merchants.
During the past 7 years of serving e-commerce enterprises, JST has been digging deep to diagnose the pain points of the industry and its users. Efficiency and synergy are the two guiding principles of JST when it looks at building up a comprehensive product mix and optimizing its service system. As a result, JST’s products and technologies are leading the way. Its unique “tailor-made” service system has now become an industry standard. The integrated SaaS ERP solutions offered by JST has dramatically sped up the digitalization process of the entire e-commerce industry in China and contributed to the thriving SaaS sector in China.
As Luo Haidong, Founder and CEO of JST said: “ B2B business is a pit that’ll take a decade to fill up. As a B2B company, we have a long way to go before we become the world’s biggest SaaS Synergistic Platform that pivots on e-commerce ERP. This is our vision and something that we will work tirelessly to turn into a reality.” In the future, JST will continue to focus on technological innovation in order to keep upgrading its products and service capabilities. By doing so, JST can offer users ever-improving integrated solutions and service experience to lead the industry toward transformational upgrades. In the meantime, they keep optimizing their layout strategy around their core business. They will also work to build an integrated e-commerce innovation ecosystem via M&A and incubation. We believe all this will help increase their presence across the value chain and contribute to the digital and intelligent transformation of enterprises.
Tanma SCRM, a leading WeCom SCRM provider, announced on July 28th the completion of a 15 million USD Series B funding round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and co-invested by Shunwei Capital. Tanma closed its Series A funding round just two months ago, raising 10 million USD from Blue Lake Capital, Legend Capital, and K2 Venture Capital.
Tanma SCRM uses WeCom to serve sales-driven enterprises by offering total process solutions from customer acquisition, conversion, and services to management.
Tanma has all three customer-facing scenarios (online, offline, and by phone) covered through the use of multi-channel management, search/location-based customer expansion, and their marketing toolkit—which includes community operations, fission marketing, red packets, lottery, CRM, and telemarketing calls. These tools have effectively lowered customer acquisition cost, improved lead conversion, and increased transparency of social marketing—arguably the biggest pain points of SCRM.
In addition, the use of Tanma’s side bars, client SOP, and marketing tools make it possible for enterprises to have smoother after-sales communication and boost customer renewal rate. By supporting digital and granular sales process management and CRM processes, Tanma helps take its clients’ businesses to the next level.
Tanma SCRM has served thousands of corporate clients, including Gaotu Group, Taikang Life Insurance, and Zoomlion. Its marketing solutions have been implemented across various sectors such as education and training, finance and insurance services, real estate services, big-ticket purchases, aesthetic medicine and enterprise services.
Meanwhile, as part of Tencent Cloud’s Thousand Sails Plan, Tanma SCRM has received many awards such as the Most Highly Recommended SaaS Provider of the Year and 2020-2021 WeCom SCRM Leader award, making it one of the most well-recognized service providers among peers and customers.
Tanma SCRM has a team of over 270 people, over 50% of which are in R&D. Many of its core team members have come from big-name companies such as Google, Tencent, Baidu, Huawei, and top universities in China and abroad. Collectively they have innovative capabilities in cutting-edge technologies and vast experience in the field of enterprise services.
成立于2010年的怡合达主要从事自动化零部件研发、生产和销售，提供 FA 工厂自动化零部件一站式供应；其深耕自动化设备行业，基于应用场景对自动化设备零部件进行标准化设计和分类选型，通过标准设定、产品开发、供应链管理、平台化运营，以信息和数字化为驱动，致力于为自动化设备行业提供高品质、低成本、短交期的自动化零部件产品。
What are the hottest arenas for VC firms this year? Most investors would agree—it’s new consumption and enterprise service.
However, enterprise service is not nearly as accessible as internet products are for most people. You don’t often hear sexy, insane growth stories. However, as the internet traffic dividend dwindles to a trickle, business warfare starts to break out from behind the scenes — among companies that are quietly serving their big-name corporate clients.
In the enterprise service sector, SaaS attracts the largest amount of capital and is considered the most likely to disrupt the software market. It is estimated that China has about 20 SaaS companies with over 100 million RMB of ARR (annual recurring revenue, a key indicator that measures the size of a SaaS company). Blue Lake Capital is a champion of SaaS and has placed a substantial bet on the arena. According to the company, they have invested in 6 of the 20 biggest SaaS companies of the past 4 years.
In July 2021, I had the chance to meet up with Managing Partner Ray Hu, Chen Haohui and Wei Haitao, partners of Blue Lake, and hear what they had to say about SaaS. Blue Lake Capital was founded by Ray Hu in 2014. He is an investor of Momenta, Meicai, Qunar, and Grab. Starting from 2016, Blue Lake Capital gradually shifted its focus area to SaaS, with investment in Moka, Zhenyun Technology, JST(Jushuitan), among other SaaS companies. The insights into the SaaS business they gained over the past five years are more than hard-earned experience than investment methodologies.
Blue Lake Capital was founded at a time when the big VC firms got even bigger in China. That made it impossible to stay a competitive and comprehensive boutique fund. Placing big bets on highly selected companies and becoming part of a value chain has become a way forward for some small and medium-size funds.
Ray Hu characterized this domain-specific strategy as “standing on the other side of the table”.
Tencent News: When did the idea of “standing on the other side of the table” come to you?
Ray Hu: When I made my worst misjudgment with Moka. The founder said in angel round that he wanted to do ATS (applicant tracking software). I told him: stay away from ATS. I’m telling you, I’ve looked into it and there’s simply no market for it in China. We talked again in Series A round, and I still decided it was a no-go for me because however, I looked at it, the ATS market was just not big enough to make sense. But then in Series B+, we just couldn’t let the Moka slip away again, so we jumped on the bandwagon.
Tencent News: What did you learn from this case?
Ray Hu: Don’t give too much thought about the ceiling. Knowing the unit price and scale of the customer base should suffice. If both are five-digit, we would take the plunge; if one is five-digit and another is 6-digit, chances are it’s quite a good project.
Basically, it’s about zooming in on matters most in any given stage: in Series A round, see whether the product is standardized; in Series B round, see whether the sales are scalable.
Tencent News: What methodologies have you accumulated for investing in Series A and B rounds of SaaS companies?
Ray Hu: What exactly is an investor looking for in a deal? One, real product with value. Two, margin of safety. Three, compound interest. In the SaaS business, these three things can be translated as: Is there customer value? It is complicated enough, with barriers to entry? Retention/renewal rate?
What’s really good about this arena is there are many success stories, especially in the US. You can look at the growth trajectories of these companies from year one to year ten. By year ten, a company would typically be listed already. The revenue they generate each year, the number of customers they have and the amount of money they burn – all these numbers are readily available. Our job is to identify metrics that are quantifiable so we don’t spend much time on those when doing due diligence, but instead focus on the outliers. Evaluating a deal is about sniffing out irregularities.
Tencent News: What do you mean by irregularities?
Ray Hu: For example, three salespeople generating 20 million RMB of sales.
Tencent News: Isn’t that great?
Ray Hu: It might be. It could also be a red flag for many of the problems you didn’t see. As the Chinese saying goes: there’s a devil in every irregularity.
What could the devil be? No competitors, robust customer demand, short sales conversion cycles, contract signed after one or two visits – all these are irregularities.
Tencent News: Isn’t that supposed to be great? What can be the problem?
Ray Hu: 3 salespeople for 20 million RMB. That’s 6+million RMB per person. That means these are big contracts. Chances are this company is not working on SaaS products but contract deliverables.
Tencent News: Such companies may have a hard time scaling up in the future.
Ray Hu: And the sales pipeline can be problematic. 3 big contracts worth of 20 million. Where can you get 3 more next year? You simply have no idea. I’d rather the 20 million come from 100 small contracts, and next year I can look at signing up 150 to 200 small customers and growing at a steady pace. That’s the certainty I’m looking for.
Tencent News: Any other irregularities?
Ray Hu: Along the lines of sales, say, if a company tells you the cost of sales is only 15%. That just can’t be for a startup in its first few years. We need to dig up as many reasons as possible when doing due diligence because the window is small.
Tencent News: How do we identify irregularities?
Ray Hu: You would have to go the opposite direction by knowing what’s normal or regular. If we have a feel for the business, we would know what’s normal and not get obsessed with it; we would also know what issues are problematic, but not too important. You have to take the bull by the horns and figure it out.
Tencent News: President of Zhenyun Technology Yao Yiming said that if a SaaS company (in China at least) has a high enough ARR rate and retention rate, you can invest with your eyes shut.
Ray Hu: Yes, you can invest blindfolded if those metrics look great. But most companies are not that good, especially in the early stage. They are not around long enough to have a track record, much less a renewal rate.
Tencent News: Two of the four partners of Blue Lake Capital are pure investors, and two are operator-investors. Do you pay attention to different things?
Ray Hu: A pure investor would usually look at the product interface and talk to a few customers, which might be a setup or a bait. You may go one step further and talk to experts and competitors. But even if you find inconsistencies you might not be able to interpret it. An operator investor, however, would hit the nail on the head.
The pure investor would have to know what your hammer looks like and try to find the right nails. Back in the day, there were many opportunities but not nearly enough money. If you showed up in the market with enough money and tried your luck here and there, you could always nail something. Now with fewer opportunities around, if you go hunt for nails with your hammer in your hand, you’re more likely to hit the nail on the head.
Tencent News: What is your hammer?
Ray Hu: That would be our knowledge of how SaaS software should be done.
A SaaS company is supported by three pillars – products, sales, and service. The last two are just as important.
Tencent News: What are the implications of SaaS companies’ rising popularity over the past two years?
Ray Hu: It’s a mixed picture. The good news is it’s easier to raise capital for your portfolio. The bad news is the post fundraising 12 months is the most dangerous period for any company as it tends to make lots of mistakes.
Second, there is a lot more competition – VC firms that used to steer clear of SaaS are coming in; Before you had a deal for 30 million dollars, but now you don’t even get a chance to talk to the founder without putting 50 million on the table; In the past, you had 3 weeks for due diligence, but now you have to whip out a term sheet in three days. The “involution” (cutthroat competition) is incredible. But this is expected – just a matter of sooner or later. You should be worried if you don’t see competition in the industry you want to invest in.
Tencent News: Why is that 12 months the most dangerous? Is it because of euphoria?
Ray Hu: You do get a boost but end up making more mistakes when it comes down to business.
Let’s see what could possibly happen. During the fundraising process, the founder tends to paint a nicer picture and tells investors that the company can bring in at least 30 million next year while it’s more like 20 million. Now, they have to make it happen, say, by having 50 salespeople after fundraising instead of working with just 15. That’s how SaaS companies dig themselves into a hole.
What happens then, with the 50 salespeople out there hunting for new orders? A salesperson may come to his boss and say, this product is usually sold for 200,000RMB, but this big client/sucker/friend I know would sign an 800,000RMB order. But he has a handful of other requests. Yes or no?
Tencent News: No.
Ray Hu: You wouldn’t say no. If you do, the order is gone, so is the salesperson. The order may go straight to your competitor.
You’d just have to sign it. And you’d soon realize that the salesperson has made a way bigger promise to the customer than he was telling you. You’d realize you can’t deliver, and you would have to get more R&D people on board to deliver. Say you have five orders like that and the entire R&D team is burying itself in work trying to deliver, the company would be ground to a halt. Scheduled upgrades are left behind.
Tencent News: What would be the right way to go?
Ray Hu: Do not rush to hire more salespeople.
You need to sign more orders but don’t rush to hire more salespeople. They are shortsighted. The right way to approach it is to follow the original trajectory and do not set a growth target too high. There’s a pattern in this business. A typical SaaS company can grow 50%-100% each year in the early years, but something is wrong if it suddenly hits 200%.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. A company can grow crazy fast, but not without a hefty price.
Tencent News: Moka CEO Li Guoxing said that organizational capability is more important to a SaaS company than having a heroic CEO.
Ray Hu: The SaaS business is one long value chain that requires the concerted effort of everyone. It is an arena without secrets. The trick is to be able to gather a group of people to do it out of pure faith while being paid a lowball salary.
Tencent News: From your vantage point, what are the typical traps for SaaS startups?
Ray Hu: Sales and delivery are always the two biggest traps out there.
You will not only need good salespeople to drive sales, but you also need willing customers. The salesperson may peddle really hard and rattle off a list of product features. But even if some of the features are unique, 1) it’s not a done deal because that feature might not be what the customer wants, and 2) even if it is, a competitor can catch up within 2 or 3 months.
Tencent News: What should you do then?
Ray Hu: There are many ways around it. For example, developing a new feature. It can be one that customers really need and see great value, or it can be one that looks fancy for driving sales, but that’s not necessarily useful for customers. We need to have both and use them alternately. Every responsible investor would keep revisiting these issues with the founder until they get it right.
Tencent News: What are the fail-safe tips you have?
Ray Hu: The founder of a company we invested used to be in the tech business. One of our partners with operational background asked him about the company’s revenue breakdown by region. He said 50% came from Northeast, 30% from Southeast and 20% from the East. Most investors would just let it lie, but our partner immediately knew the numbers were off – all management software companies get 50% of their sales from the East.
If you build a new sales team in the East region, but the salespeople keep picking the low-hanging fruits. Would you let them? You want to go beyond the tech industry, but how do you tackle the barriers down the road – brand new use cases you don’t have experience with? Greater investment into R&D? Longer conversion cycle for your salespeople? Lower ARPA in other sectors compared to the deep-pocket tech industry? Would you be willing to solve more complicated issues for less? It’d be even more agonizing for the salespeople. If I were the sales lead, I’d think – would this impact my performance and commission? Who should I send to fight the toughest battles? What’s in it for him? All these are typical managerial issues.
There’s a simple solution for this. Let’s say this company is trying to boost its sales in the East. Step 1, send your main sales force to the East to seize the tech industry. If you don’t get it in the bag, your competitors will.
Step 2, cast your net wider to cover more sectors, but not with the entire sales force. Send scouts instead. These are people that will take one for the team. But don’t send your top salespeople. You don’t want to lose them in the fight and impact the team. Send people with mediocre performance.
But then the scouts can’t explore at random, going for the medical industry today and FMCG tomorrow. For example, a salesperson in Guangzhou is assigned to cover FMCG companies. Beyond that the supervisor would have to grant him the approval and go with him. His commission can a bit higher just so his real income does not suffer. If he manages to sign on new customers, he may actually make as much as when he covers tech firms. That’s how a company gets people on board. Take it slow, see whether a certain sector generate more revenue than cost incurred. If the cost is greater, then move on to the next. That’s how you get a hang of the sales dynamic in each sector, at a small cost.
There are many detail issues it’s quite fun. Just tackle them one at a time.
Tencent News: How about delivery?
Ray Hu: A typical delivery issue is – should I say yes to customers’ weird demands? If so, for how much? How much is too low and not doable? Do I do it on my own or hire more people for it?
You may say yes because this feature may be useful to future customers. Then you’d need to involve R&D personnel in customization. Should these people follow the lead of the delivery team or R&D team?
Tencent News: The delivery team.
Ray Hu: Wrong. They should follow the R&D team. After all this customized product will be integrated to the product mix. There are many similar issues like this where choices would have to be made.
Tencent News: Of all customers with weird demands, what type of customer can I say yes to?
Ray Hu: It’s complicated. You’re asking because it’s a judgment call. That’s usually because you don’t have enough customers to tell whether it is a universal demand. Companies would say yes in most occasions because they want to get the order.
Firstly, You need to figure out how to lower the cost as much as can. Second, whether the customization team follows the R&D or delivery team. This is crucial.
Tencent News: Having homogeneous products would only set a company up for an endless price war. So how does one build a differentiated product?
Ray Hu: Moka is highly responsive to customer demands. It has a Net Promoter Score of 8 while the industry average is -20. How did Moka pull that off?
Moka runs a “group for grumbling users”. Everyone from CEO to frontline salespeople and customer service are there. Anyone who receives customer complaints shares a screenshot of the complaint for follow-ups and troubleshooting. If it’s a common issue, it will be put on the agenda for the next meeting, and addressed with a timetable and a lead person.
I don’t think other companies have a group chat like this.
Tencent News: Wouldn’t that make the CEO overwhelmed?
Ray Hu: All discussions would happen among a much smaller group of people. Say, if a salesperson shares a product complaint in the executive group chat, the product manager would go: why did you blast it to the group? You could’ve just sent it to me. Companies with that kind of corporate culture can’t possibly be product-driven. Every company can make the change their customers wish to see, but most would take longer.
Tencent News: They are trying to keep the CEO in the dark.
Ray Hu: We all try to look good and capable. Such is human nature. So don’t put human nature to test.
Tencent News: With all this insight into the business and what’s going on in their minds, how does that help with your investment decision?
Ray Hu: Operator investors tend to subscribe to the Eastern philosophy, which is more about human nature, while pure investors lean toward Western philosophy, which is more logical and categorical.
Investing is an art, not something that can be solved with just equations and numbers.
Tencent News: Where does the SaaS market stands in terms of development stages? What is the macro-environment that sets the stage for SaaS explosive growth over the past 2 years?
Ray Hu: It is in the early stage of explosive growth. My understanding of the macro environment is different from that of operators. As a pure investor, I would say it happens against the backdrop of raising labor cost, widespread availability of IT equipment and mobile devices, and the readiness of cloud infrastructure. Operators would attribute the rapid growth to VC’s involvement. After all, building a software product can cost 300 ~ 500 million RMB. Apart from VCs, who else has the wherewithal to do it?
Tencent News: So why did VCs enter the fray?
Ray Hu: there is the herd mentality among VCs. They wouldn’t have joined the race without these few success stories.
Tencent News: Why can’t we see a salesforce of China? How do you look at future trends?
Ray Hu: We will, in the next 3-5 years.
Most SaaS companies in the US follow the same playbook. Value creation typically happens after IPO, and the market cap would at least double after IPO.
A growing market cap correlates with stronger performance, higher valuation, and M&A, which is an important factor. Being the first public company in a sector means it has money to acquire latecomers. Salesforce, Adobe and Workday all expanded via acquisition funded by the capital market. The salesforce is key to a SaaS company. That’s how you generate additional sales. SAP and Oracles have been known for their shopping sprees. In China, SaaS companies have not yet taken advantage of the capital market, but they will, sooner or later.
Tencent News: When do you think SaaS companies in China will be ready for the capital market?
Ray Hu: Within 2-3 years. A company can scale up very quickly if it has a solid main business and a smart acquisition approach.
Most B2B companies will live, but they may find it difficult to scale up. If a company grows to become huge, the capital market will give it a high premium. Why? Because we all know that it’s a highly unlikely event. We pay more for scarcity.
In China, I think 10 billion is just a starting point. It’s possible for a company to grow to a 30-50 billion enterprise.
Tencent News: What is the worse fear of a B2B company?
Ray Hu: B2B companies can’t grow fast, which is a good thing, because your competitors can’t either. So if you’re lagging behind, you can catch up real quick. You can afford to make mistakes.
Top B2B companies are investors’ darlings. They have money to burn. The flip side is the cash flow can easily go in the wrong direction. That’s why managing cash flow properly is important. It’s not unusual for a company to stay in the red for the first 3-5 years. But you’ll need enough money to keep up with the bleeding.
Tencent News: Tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Tictok have all burst onto the B2B scene. How does that impact startups?
Ray Hu: No impact at all. Granted, they have more traffic, but that has nothing to do with you. Second, even a tech giant will have to stay in the game for years to see any result. The best and brightest always go where they can deliver the best performance. Third, customers don’t always opt for big brands.
Tencent News: With so many SaaS companies in your portfolio, have you created a profile for successful SaaS founders?
Ray Hu: CEOs always care more about customer satisfaction than anything else. This is a business built on repeated purchases, which is an enabler of long-term profitability and a positive growth cycle. A kick-ass SaaS company keeps their customers happy, and the rest of the problems take care of themselves.
Tencent News: I don’t think you’re betting on the founder. As one of your partners Wei Haitao said, “you can’t bet on the founder based on your own preferences.”
Ray Hu: No, we definitely bet on the founder. Regardless of how much we know about a business, 70% of its success depends on the founder. But there are uncertainties. Will a kid make it to an Ivy League school? You never know.
“Not based on one’s preferences” means acknowledging what the founder manages to achieve in a given industry environment. Try putting the entrepreneur and the deeds in perspective instead of being way too biased.
Tencent News: Any profile that you think is no good?
Ray Hu: Those that dither won’t make the cut. A good founder has just the right amount of salesmanship. Smooth talk is important, but he can’t get carried away. He should be aware that he is smooth talking, in a way that the investor picks up without calling him bluff.
Tencent News: As a fund with a focus on SaaS, how do you feel if you fail to invest in the top players?
Ray Hu: How I feel doesn’t matter. It’d be a failure.
Tencent News: How do you just keep winning, and make sure that you always get to invest in top SaaS companies?
Ray Hu: first of all, we have a bit more common sense and a feel about the business than most people. Second, we continue to create value for entrepreneurs, for example, by offering sales enablement module, etc. Blue Lake is like an SaaS for our founders.
We can’t be sure, of course. We can only work harder each day. As we say in Blue Lake, keep showing up at your customers’ doors – that’s how you get business. And we also say that there are only two seasons in a year – a busy season if you work hard, and a slow season if you don’t.
Grab a drink, keep these words in mind, and keep at it. Go home, get some sleep, and go to work again the next day. (chuckle)
Tencent News: You had worked in BCG for 4 years, and GGV for 7 years. Why did you decide to quit and become an investor?
Ray Hu: A consulting project lasts for about 8-10 weeks. 3-4 weeks down the road you know what you are about to write. The rest of the time is spent on writing it up, double checking the format, footnotes, numbers and punctuation, tweaking the wording to get rid of the edge, and fiddling with the color palette. If you look to spend 20 years in consulting, 15 of those years will be all about tweaking formats and wording. That’s kind of boring.
So I was thinking, can I do it the other way around? As a consultant, I put together slides to share my insights with clients. I charged them on a per person per day basis. I couldn’t make more than my hourly rate, which can’t get beyond a certain range. Investing, however, is about using a financial leverage to magnify the return on my insights.
Tencent News: What was your focus area for investment in GGV?
Ray Hu: GGV didn’t assign specific sectors. There were 10 of us and we invested mostly in internet companies and enterprise service companies. We didn’t invest in gaming, though.
I was new to investing. I couldn’t read the three financial statements, and I didn’t know how internet traffic worked. GGV was nice for a rookie like me. I didn’t know anyone there when I joined, and I didn’t make any meaningful contribution in the first 18 months but I didn’t have to stress over it. Those days are gone. Now you can’t possibly show up at GGV clueless about investing. There are more than enough smart and capable people in this business.
Tencent News: Among the companies you invested in GGV, Qunar, 21Vianet and Grab, which is the most interesting?
Ray Hu: Every deal has interesting stories to tell. Qunar opened a door for me. When I heard Zhuang Chenchao’s thinking behind the founding of Qunar, I got inspiration about how to spot investment opportunities in an ocean of companies. He co-founded Shawei.com, a sports website after graduating from college. I asked him why. He said Sina was the hottest portal in 2000 it was impossible to beat. So he picked the hottest channel.
He thought about doing news, and if he did, whatever he created would probably be as big as Toutiao (news site Jinri Toutiao). But he decided that doing news was risky and entertainment news was no fun. Sports is not bad and sports advertisers were rich. So he decided to do a sports portal.
Before he founded Qunar, Baidu and Google were the hottest companies, and finance contributed the lion’s share of revenue for Google. So he founded rong360, a financial search platform. The second biggest advertisers were travel agencies so he switched to OTA and founded Qunar.
Tencent News: Why did you leave GGV in 2014 and founded Blue Lake Capital?
Ray Hu: I was tired of working for others. I could run a financial model and calculate how much I would make in the next 10-15 years. It was a depressing exercise. Not that the numbers weren’t great, just predictable.
Tencent News: Have you seen a seismic shift in the VC industry since 2014?
Ray Hu: The total amount of capital it the hands of top VCs is 2 orders of magnitude (100 times) larger than that of the second-tier VCs. Sequoia, Hillhouse and Tencent each have a pocket so deep it’s bottomless. This was unimaginable back then.
Tencent News: How did you manage to slowly switch Blue Lake’s investment focus to the SaaS vertical?
Ray Hu: In 2016, we saw a shift in the macro environment and sectoral landscape. Money was increasingly concentrating in the hands of top VCs. So they grew bigger in size. When capital is no longer scarce, brand recognition becomes more important. That rules out the possibility of staying as a competitive and comprehensive boutique fund. If you run a small fund and you want to be competitive, you must specialize.
Tencent News: Why didn’t you run a big fund?
Ray Hu: Even big funds start small.
The VC cultures in China and the US are different. Many LPs told me that LPs in the US would usually ask a GP: what is your specialty? And your ROI? But the first question for a Chinese GP is: how big is your fund?
Tencent News: How do small and medium funds like yours survive in an increasingly concentrating VC market?
Ray Hu: We live by diving deeper into a vertical to achieve a network effect. I heard investors quote a famous Chinese saying “the water may be boundless, but I’d take the one ladle I need”. I thought they meant to caution against investing in too many companies. Later I realized it wasn’t a matter of quantity. As long as you’re investing in companies of the same type, same vertical, or of similar nature, you’ve got it all under control.
Tencent News: Large VCs and PEs are putting heavier bets on B2B businesses. How do you get ahead and get deals? Your parnter Chen Haohui said, there was a time where he spent 6 months trying to get a deal, but he still lost it even with 5kg of Chinese liquor down the throat.
Ray Hu: Branding has indeed given them great momentum. Let’s say if you are not the first to meet the founder, you have to be at least the 10th, or you have to set up a meeting in the same week, or do your dd three days ahead of top VCs. And salesmanship is important. We need to lay out what we can offer – our understanding of the business, how the company can snowball and how we can keep learning and providing input. This isn’t just inputting resources. I just disdain the practice of putting together a Wechat group and providing post-deal services from there.
Tencent News: Any advice you have for B2B investors?
Ray Hu: Most investors like me have a pretty steep learning curve. So I’d say spend more time with businesspeople. Old birds like us are not likely to grow wiser hanging around pure investors like we did in the past decade.
Tencent News: Do investors born in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s have different investment styles?
Ray Hu: Generally speaking, the older the investor, the more conservative he is. If you’re born in the 60s and still in the game, you must really love investing. Most post-90s investors are in it for the money. Post-70s is a mixture of both. They haven’t made big bucks, but the love is still there.
Tencent News: Any difference between Beijing VCs and Shanghai VCs?
Ray Hu: People in Beijing VCs tend to hang out more with those of the same work level. Young folks tend to hang out, have a meal, get some kebabs, and gossip. Those in Shanghai keep to themselves instead of having big gatherings.
Tencent News: How will China’s VC landscape change in the next few years?
Ray Hu: It’s hard to tell. The handful of VC firms at the top will get bigger, so does the tail, because money is abundant.
Tencent News: How would you describe the standing of Hillhouse, Sequoia and Tencent in the investment community today?
Ray Hu: They are the Wudang Mountain and Shaolin Monastery (two establishments that churned out Kungfu masters), while we are honing our “Dugu Nine Sword Moves” (the invincible killer sword moves in a well-known Kungfu fiction).
Editor’s Note: This article is edited based on the two-hour keynote presentation of Ray Hu in the opening seminar of Dark Horse Enterprise Services Training Camp. Ray Hu is the Founder and Managing Partner of Blue Lake Capital and served as an acceleration mentor for the Camp. Over 50 start-up founders attended the event.
Ray Hu was awarded Forbes’ 2019 Best Venture Capitalist in China. He has fifteen years of investment experience in enterprise services, including Investments in Meicai, Momenta, Yiheda, Going-Link, Helios, and Moka. Under Ray Hu, Blue Lake Capital has been an early-stage investor in at least one-third of the top-notch SaaS companies in China with an ARR of over 100 million RMB.
As an investor, it is very important to look at sector-specific opportunities and start-ups from an industrial perspective. One increasingly important industry is information technology, which has become the crucial infrastructure for even traditional sectors.
So, how should aspiring entrepreneurs go about starting their own software business? According to Blue Lake Capital’s investment playbook for the software industry, there are two options: developing business solutions for SMEs (small and medium enterprises), a process that involves zooming in on particular verticals, identifying common pain points, addressing these pain points, and eventually developing vertical-specific products; Or, developing modules for big companies by examining the needs of various LOBs (lines of business) and producing industry-agnostic software such as HR, finance, accounting, and procurement solutions.
Misconceptions toward SaaS start-ups and the industry as a whole are not uncommon even now in China. Many investors believe that the software market is small and those software companies grow only slowly, while in fact, SaaS software is driving a digital transformation in many companies. According to Blue Lake’s industry analysis, China’s software industry shows just as much potential as the software industry in the US.
To begin with, 20%-70% of software for various sectors worldwide are cloud-based. This number will climb to 60%-90% in the next 10 years. China’s cloud migration progress is where the world was in 2016. That means China’s software market scale only lags behind the global market by 5 years—not as far behind as we thought.
The software market in China is riding an unprecedented wave of mobility based on AI and cloud migration. All this is transforming the industry from inside out. A plethora of products with these core competences has mushroomed, making China a heaven for investors. US investors were not as fortunate the US software market didn’t grow in the same way.
Second, over the past few years, the market cap of US SaaS companies has expanded eight-fold, while the NASDAQ Index only saw three-fold returns. During 2008 to 2020, the market cap of the top 5 US SaaS companies combined surged over 40 fold. All this shows how quickly the SaaS industry is expanding.
Non-US SaaS companies are equally impressive. We selected about two dozen SSE/HKSE-listed software companies that are leading the cloud transformation, weighted the share prices and compiled the Blue Lake China SaaS Index. A comparison of the SaaS Index with the A Share Index showed that the market cap of these companies grew five-fold over the past 5 years. Kingsoft Cloud (one of the leading cloud computing companies in China) and Ming Yuan Cloud (a China-based ERP and SaaS company primarily serving real estate companies), in particular, have had an impressive run since they went public.
Looking at the numbers, we can conclude that the software industry is a high margin, high growth, and big volume sector, with SaaS companies being the front runner, and that makes SaaS software a compelling racetrack for start-ups.
Why is there an increasing number of companies purchasing SaaS software in China? It is because the demand side is shifting.
First, customers are more demanding. In the past, traditional software companies would pour hundreds of millions of RMB into developing a new product, sometimes to no avail. Companies were often disappointed and got impatient with R&D. As a result, customers were generally unhappy with the products. But these days software companies have been working on improving their cost structure and efficiency. Products are constantly iterated so customers are happier with the products and more willing to renew their subscriptions.
Second, customers have a growing demand for cost optimization. Traditional software companies used to be project-based before the advent of SaaS software. They would identify customer needs, provide a cost estimate and develop the product accordingly. These were typically multi-million RMB contracts and the money would have to be paid upfront. These days, the process is completely reversed—an SaaS company develops a product first and looks for customers later. A customer only pays hundreds of thousands of RMB for a single order. Of course, they are happier.
Third, B2B end-users expect the optimized, fool-proof user experience they’ve grown accustomed to with B2C software. When procuring enterprise software, customers care a lot about whether the product is user-friendly and efficient. We call this “consumerization of enterprise software”. Take booking a flight as an example. Doing T&E reimbursement on Helios (a Blue Lake Capital holding which has become the top expense management and business travel service provider in China)is just as hassle-free as on B2C platforms like Ctrip. This was simply unimaginable in the past when users would have to grapple with complicated OA software.
Finally, SaaS software does not need deployment or maintenance, resulting in enhanced security and a shorter deployment process. All these fuels the long-term development of SaaS software. For any enterprise software to be adopted in the past, the CIO would have to look at the entire IT architecture, budget, compatibility, interface, and available resources before he made the final decision. It used to be a complicated process. These days, all it takes is for the marketing and HR departments to pick the right product and launch it across the company. This explains why SaaS software is gaining traction among companies.
1. On Sectoral and Start-up Opportunities
Over the years, Blue Lake Capital has accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge about investing in SaaS start-ups.
The first thing we learned is that neither entrepreneurs nor investors should underestimate the growth potential of the market. Right now, several leading software developers have been growing a lot faster than people thought they would. In fact, explosive growth is possible with increasing customer stickiness. But this kind of growth should not be taken as a given in the early stages of any company. So don’t jump to conclusions about when and where a software company might hit the ceiling.
Next, the demand side for general purpose software has changed, which presents challenges to traditional software developers, but also creates opportunities for start-ups. In the past, SAP and Oracle dominated the general-purpose software market. But today, as customers are more segmented, traditional software companies will not be able to meet changing needs with their existing product mix. Digital transformation is no longer a corporate-wide project, but broad-based adjustment that extends to the entire supply chain. Customers expect the software to interface with companies all along the supply chain. This is a challenge to traditional software companies, but it’s an opportunity for SaaS companies.
Meanwhile, the development of the software industry has constantly stretched the limits of our knowledge as investors. In the past, we thought that management software migrating to the cloud would be a tall order. Now it is made easy with technological leaps. There are over 200 software companies being traded in the Shanghai Stock Exchange with a total market cap of over 3 trillion RMB. But most of these companies are still traditional, project-based companies. All their previous projects can get a do-over in the future. On the supply-side, it is increasingly important to be product-centric. Product depth and expertise are key.
Chinese entrepreneurs who wish to explore opportunities in SaaS should look at how their US counterparts did it, and then decide what products they should or should not do in China’s market. But they cannot simply copy to China whatever products work in the US because Chinese companies are not quite the same as US companies. For example, SFA (Sales Force Automation, software that works like CRM for sales) products developed by SaaS companies in the US might not work seamlessly here given the different sales management styles and philosophies of Chinese companies. In fact, so far, SFA products from the US do not work so well for Chinese companies. Marketing these products in China hasn’t been easy, and so US developers operating in China usually face two possibilities—either rebuilding a product with a ton of customization or bracing themselves for roadblocks in sales.
So it is very important for a Chinese SaaS start-up to take a deep dive into the local market and identify real customer demands. This step can be a turning point for a company helping to realize robust growth within the next 3-5 years. It is something that SaaS entrepreneurs need to figure out from the get-go.
Today, a company would have to pay 200 USD per year for every employee that uses American or Japanese T&E reimbursement software, but the cost would go down to 200RMB per year per employee using systems developed by Chinese SaaS companies. My confidence in Chinese software companies only grows over time as I witness how they have flourished with technical expertise, great product quality and fast iteration. No doubt they stand a chance in overseas markets and they can be a force to be reckoned with.
2. On Customer Recognition
There are two things SaaS companies need to keep in mind in order to gain customer recognition.
One, lower cost and boost efficiency for key accounts. These are the pressing needs in light of their complicated organizational structures. Forget about helping your key accounts increase revenue as they have multiple product lines and even more factors that affect revenue.
That brings me to my second point: do help SMEs boost revenue. SMEs have fewer employees and relatively simple organizational structures, and boosting revenue is their pressing need.
3. Advice for Starting a SaaS Business.
Blue Lake Capital offers the following pieces of advice on starting a SaaS company.
First, be patient when just starting out. Note that SaaS companies in the US that went public in 2020 have been around for 10 years on average. So, do not expect a SaaS start-up to grow several folds in a year and go public within three years. When choosing investors for your start-up, you have to manage investor expectations by giving them a realistic and reasonable ROI.
Second, you need a disproportionally large sales force. Pay them generously and keep them motivated.
Third, keep iterating your products, even if it brings only a 1-2% improvement with each iteration. Think of the edge you are going to have with 50 iterations.
Fourth, find like-minded investors. SaaS entrepreneurs should look for investors with domain knowledge, as start-ups benefit from the industrial perspective and domain-specific advice that experienced investors can offer.
Three characteristics of a Startup Mastermind
Excellent start-up entrepreneurs have three things in common.
One, they know how to do the math. How much does it cost to acquire a customer? How much commission do I pay to my sales people? How much inventory do I have? Numbers are what keep you grounded when delivering your products.
Two, they are persistent and patient. The first 30 customers of a SaaS start-up are important because these customers help you shape the product and get it right. Keep them happy. Think about it, how can you possibly serve 300 customers if you can’t even serve 30? Don’t overstretch the company within the first two years.
Three, always put customer satisfaction first. Given the nature of 2B business, 1/3 of a software company’s success can be attributed to its relationship with customers, old and new, and 2/3 to the quality of its products and services. SaaS companies that always keep customer satisfaction in mind will not fare badly in the long run.
Lingxing ERP，a cross-border e-commerce SaaS provider, announced on May 28th the completion of its Series B funding round of 200 million yuan. This round was led by Tiger Fund, co-invested by Source Code Capital and Eastern Bell Capital, and additionally funded by existing shareholders in Hillhouse Capital, Shunwei Capital, and Blue Lake Capital. Following Blue Lake Capital’s initial investment six months ago, Lingxing ERP has raised almost 300 million yuan in total making it the most valuable tech firm in the field of cross-border SaaS solutions.
Founded in 2017, Lingxing ERP is dedicated to developing one-stop ERP systems for cross-border e-commerce businesses on Amazon. To make it easy for cross-border sellers to do business, offering modules such as sourcing, warehousing, logistics, advertising, customer service, finance, and accounting. After four years of iteration, Lingxing ERP stands out with better functionality and more accurate and secure information than its competitors, and t now enjoys an industry-leading reputation, clientele, and renewal rate. Lingxing is serving tens of thousands of sellers, big and small, that strive to operate with granular visibility and analytics. Many of them are big-name or listed companies that have long-term, close collaboration with Lingxing ERP.
Lingxing leverages its superior product development capability to bring best-in-class solutions to its products and thus enabling sellers to make informed decisions and achieve refined management. As a front runner for cross-border e-commerce ERP solutions, Lingxing ERP carries eight modules – operational analysis, profit accounting, advertising management, FBA management, smart inventory replenishment, supply chain coordination, customer relationship management, and efficient operation toolkit, all in one single, integrated platform. Such a professional one-stop management system closes the operation and management loop for cross-border e-commerce sellers.
Thanks to its superior technology architecture, Lingxing ERP is leading the way in data acquisition, processing, and protection. Lingxing meets the difficult task of serving cross-border sellers by accurately navigating the complex business environment of international e-commerce, interface with multiple global e-commerce platforms. For Lingxing, real-time, accurate, secure, and responsive data is key. Lingxing ERP’s proprietary job scheduling framework can run hundreds of millions of tasks. This reduces latency to the minimum and allows for responses in seconds. The system also performs proper cost allocation and accurate profit accounting with sufficient granularity to meet public company reporting obligations. It is a system that enterprises can count on to make efficient and accurate decisions. As clients take their brands overseas, they can feel rest assured that their data is secured at all times by Lingxing’s rigorous data security controls and technology system.
Lingxing ERP is committed to providing the ultimate experience with user-friendliness in mind. Products are upgraded on a biweekly basis and optimized constantly. Compared with traditional ERP software that is difficult to learn and work with, Lingxing’s ERP dramatically shortens the learning curve for enterprises. Its dedication to the client’s success is expressed in the professional products and services that it delivers to every user. That is how Lingxing established its reputation and got new clients through word of mouth.
Fu Bo, CEO of Lingxing, said, “The future of cross-border e-commerce is very bright. SaaS ERP as an indispensable infrastructure is also presented as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow and flourish. We believe that over the long run, there will be more Chinese brands and Chinese SaaS software going global. Our mission is to serve these brands by offering intuitive and easy-to-use SaaS products. Product, technology, and service are core competencies of SaaS ERPs. Lingxing will continue to improve its products and services in order to drive efficiency. Even in a rapidly expanding market, we will stay grounded so we can grow at a sustainable pace.”
Chen Haohui, the partner of Blue Lake Capital, recalled his early impression of Lingxing last year. In a client visit, Chen Haohui saw with his own eyes just how easy it was to sell a product that addresses client pain points with impeccable user experience. It was evident in Lingxing’s robust indicators – customer retention, revenue renewal rate, LTV/CAC, etc. that Lingxing has a lot of potentials to succeed in the SaaS ERP market. It is for all these reasons that Blue Lake Capital has decided to provide additional funding in this round.
哇力的产品规划大致也是按照这样的思路。我还提出过一个概念，叫做「哇力定律」，每 36 个月，家用机器人的实用功能将增加一大项，而售价将增加100美元。2019年，我们发布全球首个可以自己洗拖布的机器人。2020年，我们实现机器人自动接水换水的功能。今年，我们还要上线全球首个支持热烘干和消毒功能的清洁机器人，这些都是基于前面说的思路落地的。
Tanma SCRM, a leading WeCom (FKA WeChat Work) SCRM provider, announced on May 25th the completion of its Series A funding round, raising 10 million USD from Blue Lake Capital, Legend Capital, and K2 Venture Capital.
Tanma SCRM is a WeCom-based integrated solution that provides sales services to its clients. Tanma’s products include Tanma CRM, marketing toolkit—including community operations, QR code on posters to funnel new customers, red packets, lottery, and distribution—and telemarketing. These services are designed to help clients with CRM, sales process management, WeCom group chat operations, data acquisition, and consolidation across the entire WeChat ecosystem.
Tanma’s footprints have spanned across various sectors, including education and training, finance and insurance services, real estate services, big-ticket purchases, aesthetic medicine, and enterprise services. Tanma’s products have been well received among thousands of corporate clients, including Gaotu Group (NYSE: GOTU), hqwx.com (an in English Universal e-School and one of China’s largest online vocational training platforms) and Taikang Life Insurance (one of China’s largest life insurance companies).
Tanma SCRM has a team just shy of 200 people, over 50% of whom are in R&D. It has a core team of scientists recruited from big-name companies such as Google, Tencent, Baidu, Huawei and top universities in China and abroad. They collectively have vast experience and expertise in massive parallel processing and enterprise services.
WeChat is the most popular social networking app in China. As of Q1 2020, WeChat’s mainland and overseas MAU (monthly active users) had reached over 1.2 billion. Launched in 2016, WeCom is a business communication and office collaboration tool developed by the Tencent WeChat Team. Over the years, WeCom has been iterated to connect and interface with WeChat. It offers functions such as Customer IM, Customer Moments, Mini Programs and WeChat Pay with direct access to 1.2 billion Wechat users. As WeCom helps retain private domain traffic for enterprise customers, SCRM services that operate within WeCom ecosystem also thrive.
WeCom-based SCRM systems offer extra features beyond the existing functions of WeCom. They are user-centric, helping enterprises to bridge between social networks and achieve closed-loop CRM starting from connection, to management, conversion and retention.
As an official service provider for WeCom, Tanma SCRM drives traffic and customer acquisition via multi-channels and QR codes on posters. Tanma offers Group Chat SOP, Friend Radar, Chat Quality Assurance to help enterprises manage employees and customers. At the same time, it enables users to convert and retain customers with a series of marketing strategies and ongoing follow-ups.
Ray Hu, the Managing Partner of Blue Lake Capital, said, “We have known the (Tanma) team for many years. This allows Blue Lake Capital to witness the growth of an outstanding enterprise services team over a long stretch of time.
“First of all, WeCom has opened up new territories for SaaS. We and the team are bullish on WeCom-based SCRM and CRM. This the cornerstone of the team’s success.
“Second, product capability and customer satisfaction are two key indicators with which Blue Lake Capital evaluates a SaaS company. Tanma has always been product-driven and well-recognized by clients that are top players across industries. The team is unrivaled in terms of product capability and developing solutions for key accounts.
“Third, Tanma’s growth this year has gone beyond our expectations. As a long-time shareholder, we are honored to have the opportunity to increase our investment at this juncture and be there for Tanma in the long run.”
It is for all these reasons that Blue Lake continues to provide additional funding in this round to be used for product innovation, market expansion, and talent sourcing.
而根据调研机构Context的最新数据统计，Raise3D打印机已经进入全球专业级3D打印机销量前三的行列，其产品受到全球170多个国家和地区的技术工程人员的喜爱。“我们的合作伙伴很多都是全球知名的企业，如：NASA、波音、SpaceX、梅奥医疗、苹果、微软、迪士尼等，我们的产品为他们提供了有效的解决方案并受到广泛好评。” Raise3D美国公司执行副总裁 Marc Franz说到。
美国Desktop Metal公司在桌面金属3D打印领域最先登录资本市场，该公司于2020年SPAC上市，上市估值25亿美元，截至发稿前市值为32.1亿美元。Raise3D在本次TCT亚洲3D打印展上推出的解决方案和Desktop Metal同属新兴的桌面级金属3D打印技术，有望进一步推动金属3D打印的小型化和离散化。
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