Fashion eCommerce WearYouWant’s CEO Martin on How to close series B with Japanese VC, mobile commerce in Thailand and… Muay Thai

IMG_0013Series B of funding is not popular in Southeast Asia and still rare in Thailand. So I catch up with Martin – Co-founder/Co-CEO of the fashion ecommerce startup WearYouWant who just got funded an un-disclosed amount of money series B from the leading Japanese online fashion house ZozoTown (market cap over $3 billions). This is one of a very few series B funding in Thailand till date, so there would be many things to learn for startup founders. 

IMG_0566Having worked with fashion since a young age, how did that shape your interest and help on your entrepreneurship path within fashion from a small initial to a lager scale with series B?

I’ve always been interested in fashion and it has been part of my life as my father was running a traditional brick and mortar fashion store. He was mainly importing premium Italian fashion brand and I was basically introduced to everything from store management to sourcing. At that point of time entrepreneurship was not something that was part of my planned career path. I was studying my masters in political science at the university so it was more in the cards that I was going to work a job in the public sector.

However, I do think that those early days in my farther’s store must have awoken an inner desire of building something and to see it grow.

After working with more than 20 VCs for series B how is that fund-raising process different from series A? Can you share some key factors for entrepreneurs to raise series B successfully?

I believe the process is quite similar. The initial work by creating your deck and starting to go through your list of potential VC’s are very similar to how we raised Series A.

Obviously what is important to successfully raise Series B is that your business has improved on the most important KPI’s since the completion of Series A.

IMG_0094 How is life after Series B? You managed to get good press coverage.

Life is very good. Of course both Julien, my co-founder and I, are happy about the announcement and the fact that we’re one of a few startups in Thailand having closed Series B. The rest of the team is obviously also proud and energized so news like this serves several purposes externally and well as internally. That being said, the processes are the same and we keep working towards the same targets as were planned prior to the announcement.

Japanese are playing a big role in the regions but japanese moneythey’re famous for reserved style. Due to your experience what are the good way to work with Japanese partners? How are they different from other VCs, eg. VCs from Singapore? 

We’ve actually been very happy about working with Japanese. OPT SEA, one of our Series A investors, has supported us a lot and their close connections with Start Today has of course been very essential for getting this deal in place. So from my understanding connections in Japan is important to make the process smoother and get things to move faster. That being said, the whole Series B process took less than 6 months which is not considered longer time than if you were working with VC’s from Singapore.

 For recruitment you said that it was difficult to recruit good people. Is that easier after Series B? And how can you find and attract talents? What are your criteria on evaluating new recruit?

Recruiting is one of the most important things for a startup besides making sure that you have enough runway to keep going. It’s challenging because many employees still favour larger corporations because it’s considered more safe and traditionally also sends a different signal to friends and family.

That being said, we start to see that some Thais are becoming much more eager to explore the benefits and amazing possibilities startups has to offer.

During July and August you have tried out offline campaigns with WearYouWant on BTS ad board. How was the result and how would you do next with the new-loaded money?


WearYouWant offline campaign on BTS

WearYouWant offline campaign on BTS in Bangkok

Being in a market where eCommerce is still relatively immature you need to test as many channels as possible. The BTS was by far the largest offline campaign ever carried out and we had really good feedback. Our B2B partners are very important for us as we source all our brands locally via distributors or smaller to medium sized merchants or fashion brands. The campaign increased our brand awareness significantly and we have brought onboard several new brands over the last couple of months. Measured on direct performance online it outperformed our expectations greatly as well.

How would you prepare to ride the wave of mobile commerce in the region? Especially Thai consumers are very much into mobile with one of the highest mobile usages in Southeast Asia? Please feel free to share some specific details, EcomEye’s readers are very hands-on guys!

Mobile is definitely important. More than 50% of our traffic comes from mobile which is also why we’re currently planning the roll-out of our native iOS and Android apps. We’re expecting traffic from mobile to pick up significantly over the next 12 months time which is why UI/UX optimization very important.

iphone-moneyConversion rate still remains half on mobile device vs desktop. Users are often using their smartphone to explore but then place their orders at home or via desktop in office. In terms of marketing budget allocated for mobile vs desktop, we’re still experimenting meaning that by far the largest part are focused towards desktop. Over the next 12 months that picture might change.

Roughly 45% of the traffic is from iOS vs 55% from Android. However, iOS users bring in 70% of the revenue, meaning that they shop more and larger basket sizes. Mobile peak time of the day is from 6-10pm.

A lot of our shoppers are officer workers so during the day they are browsing via desktop in office and then from 6pm when heading home they shift to mobile.

What are the focuses for marketing in the next phase? How do you plan to acquire new users and how would you increase the conversion rate? 

The traditional online channels such as Google, Facebook and retargeting will still play a major role, but we will definitely keep testing new channels.

Youtube is one of the channels we will allocate budget for together with more traditional offline channels.

We’ve had great success with our offline pop-up stores during the last 6 months so we will carry on with those in order to increase visibility and build trust in the market. Besides that we will be adding a range of well known international brands over the coming 6 months which we believe will have a positive impact on the conversion rate. Most of these international brands sees very high search volumes and they have a strong brand awareness in the market from being sold at multiple offline locations either in flagship stores or department stores.

IMG_0367Being an entrepreur that’s touch, especially the pressure would be higher when you have later stage funding. What would you do when you have free time?

My free time is spend on several things, and trying to stay in good shape is one of them.

Muay Thai is probably one of the hardest martial arts in the world, so even you’re not planning to get in the ring it’s a great way to keep your body and mind fit.

I find it one of the best ways to combine both cardio and strength training at the same time. Besides that physical training I spend time with family and friends and try to make sure to plan a few weekend getaways once in while to catch some fresh air.

Wishing you a great health to keep fighting on the startup battle! สู้สู้

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Minh Bui is a seasoned eCommerce veteran from both Southeast Asian startups and corporates in online commerce and offline retail chain as well. He's also an avid Asia explorer and love to enjoy local foods and learn cultural differences in Asia.

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  • Karsten Aichholz

    Good job on the interview and being able to get some replies with hard numbers. Looking forward to your future coverage of the Thai m&e-commerce market!

    • minhbkx

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry i just saw your comment now!