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Thailand start-up raises THB229 million to expand online printing into APAC

According to a recent report, a Thai start-up aimed at disrupting the traditional printing industry in Southeast Asia has acquired a THB229 million (US$7.7 million) investment. It will use these funds to expand its business into Asia Pacific.

While the Bangkok-based company had expanded beyond Thailand and into Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia earlier, it is now looking to go beyond Southeast Asia and enter Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and other markets over the next year.

Those moves will be backed by this Series A round, which is led by an investment firm who is an existing backer of the printing company.

The printing start-up claims to have worked with 45,000 companies to date. Its core services include printed business cards, flyers, booklets, posters and more, in addition to marketing collateral such as promotional pens, other stationary and flash drives.

While the printing business isn’t a particularly alluring to outsiders, the start-up aims to disrupt the industry in Southeast Asia using something known as “batching.”

Batching involves bundling a range of customer orders together for each print run to ensure that each sheet that’s sent to the printer is filled to capacity, or near capacity.

While this may seem obvious, traditional printing batches were almost always below capacity because each customer ordered individually with little option for batching.

The start-up uses the internet to reach a wider number of customers which, using technology to batch jobs, allowing for it to handle more orders with fewer printer runs.

That translates to cost savings for its business and lower prices for its customers. There are also benefits for the printers themselves, as they are guaranteed volume, which is no sure thing in today’s increasingly digital world.

The start-up’s joint managing director stated that the company’s main pivot has been away from the idea it needed to own its printing facility in-house.

At first, the company was under the impression that as an online printer eventually, it needed to own and operate its own machinery. However, over the next couple of years, the company experienced a shift in mindset.

A large part of this is because it simply isn’t practical to ship products overseas form Southeast Asia, both in terms of time and also the cost and hassle of importing.

Thus, the start-up has local partners in each market that it collaborates with. Rather than “disrupting” the system, the co-founder argued that his company is making the process more efficient.

Currently, the start-up employs 125 staff, and there are plans to grow that number by an additional 30. In particular, the co-founder said the company is building out an internal structure that will enable it to scale — that includes the recent hiring of a CTO.

It was noted that the company focuses on larger clients because of their higher average basket size and a higher chance of repeat customers, which the co-founder revealed is 60 per cent on average.

This turnover is achieved rather impressively and involves no design software on the website. Instead, the start-up’s customers can upload their completed designs in any format.

While it was acknowledged that the various formats can be bothersome, the approach also minimizes more hobbyist-type business.

However, the co-founder did say that the company is happy to work with customers of all sizes.

The start-up claims it grew its customer numbers by 200 per cent over the past year but it declined to provide revenue details. The company has a path to profitability that’s helped by “healthy” profit margins of 30-80 per cent depending on the product.

An early backer of the start-up stated that the company has found the right formula to win an increasing number of customers by creating true value: providing something that’s better at a cheaper price point, and with enhanced speed to market.

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