London-based Kuai Commerce has raised $2.4 million in a pre-seed funding round. The startup, which takes its name from the colloquial term for the Chinese Yuan, will use the capital to further develop and launch its e-commerce solution aimed at helping Western merchants take their wares East.
Kuai’s oversubscribed $2.4 million pre-seed round was led by Playfair Capital with Haatch Ventures, Portfolio Ventures, and Unbundled VC participating. The startup also saw the support of angel investors including the former Managing Director of Alibaba UK David Lloyd, prolific tech industry investor and founder Will Neale, Joshua Stevens, CEO at One Retail Group, and a number of undisclosed Chinese influencers.
Beginning in 1978, when the Chinese economic boom began, the past 45 years have seen an average growth of around 9 percent per year. Meaning, and I don’t think you need me to tell you this, there’s a lot of money floating around in China. Now entering its second, if not the third generation of rising consumer budgets, the e-commerce sector alone in China is estimated to be valued around $1.7 trillion.
Now if you’ve ever tried to do business in China, you’re well aware of the complexities, if not downright stonewalling when it comes to conducting commerce.
And herein lies the barrier that Kuai founders Jonny Plein, Adam Knight, and James Campbell are aiming to tackle. Remember those Chinese influencers mentioned in the list of investors? It's by no accident that they’re there, as Kuai’s play is to offer a tech stack that will allow brands to sell directly to Gen-Z consumers via social commerce. According to Kuai, their unique approach mitigates risk and maximises reward, with a focus on long-term partnerships.
The agency is slated to begin operations focusing on China’s growing clean beauty market, a sector gaining increased popularity with young Chinese consumers who are environmentally and health aware. The term is used to describe all products that are harmless to the environment and their users, and are oft to adjectives including cruelty-free, natural, organic, vegan, or sustainable.
“Our social commerce solution is a market-expanding technology, meaning brands that wouldn’t even consider China before now have a real opportunity to build a profitable business there,” explained Plein. “E-commerce in the West is having a tough moment but we believe we are working on the most lucrative opportunity of the next decade. Entering China with Kuai Commerce can be genuinely transformative for category-leading brands who are currently struggling for growth in their home markets.”