Meet Startup @TW

Taiwanese ecommerce firm citiesocial scores US$2.75m in investment capital

Citiesocial said it received the funding from the China-based Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund with CDIB Capital of Hong Kong and venture capital firm Cherubic Ventures. The recipient anticipates using that money for expansion into China, Japan and South Korea.

“We started as just a curated Ecommerce platform but quickly found that the brands we were working with needed more,” citiesocial CEO Eric Wang said in a news release.

“The barrier for entry into Asia is high,” he said, citing tough competition. “Without local market knowledge and a dedicated Asia retail team, it's nearly impossible for these companies to gain meaningful results here. That's when we had a rethink and began to expand our services.”

Wang hopes to be a “disruptive power” in ecommerce following the new investment.

Expansion of services

Founded as an Ecommerce platform in 2011, citiesocial now focuses on helping small brands grow their name recognition and expand in the marketplace. It hosts 2,000 brands with products numbering in the five digits. The platform has reached more than 600,000 customers in Hong Kong and Taiwan region to date.

Citiesocial promotes its clients’ goods via media in the target regions and uses a store of data to help customers.

Clients can also learn from citiesocial’s experts who know how small brands succeed in new markets and sign up for localization services via marketing campaign management and social media – as well as offline sales and promotions through partner companies.

The firm helps some clients with cross-border logistical issues and import-export laws, documents, taxes and warehousing. It’s core e-commerce services, including B2B and B2C, are still running.

Citiesocial sees itself as a “true gateway for these brands,” Wang said. “We provide everything they need to successfully launch in Asia and an English-speaking point of contact to keep communication smooth.”

Primed for more countries

In a 2016 survey by the U.S. Consumer Technology Association, more than half of the Chinese, Indonesian and Malaysian citizens polled described themselves as early adopters of technology, a boon to brands hawking new IT goods.

Only 15% of Americans identified themselves in the same survey as early adopters.

Advertising happens to be vibrant in Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. But as major global brands are commonly found in the major cities, Wang believes small brands still face setbacks.

“The demand for new products in Asia is huge, but young brands often lack resources to expand outside of their domestic market,” he said.

Executive Director of the Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund Andrew Lee agreed.

“We have witnessed a trend of Asian consumers, especially in mainland China increasingly seeking out products that let them express their own individuality,” Lee said. “This is why we have chosen to partner with citiesocial. They have shown us that they have the grasp and capability to fully address these trends.”