The Future of Healthcare in Malaysia

“Unless security systems are designed to record access, the curious, entrepreneurial or venal can enter databases without leaving evidence of having done so,” it explains.

Special efforts

Special efforts

Previously known as Telemedicine Development Group, DHM was formed in 2017 to further digital health initiatives in Malaysia. It is co-chaired by the director-general of the Health ministry and chairman of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Meanwhile, Faizi Rosli, the director of ethics and legal division under Malaysian Medical Council (MMC)—which governs all registered medical practitioners in the country—emphasises that the use of technology shouldn’t alter the ethical and professional requirements in the provision of care.

In a recently held webinar by Digital Health Malaysia (DHM)—a non-profit special interest group formed by policymakers, doctors and telemedicine companies—Faizi spoke about how crucial it is for doctors who provide virtual consultations to inform patients of the limitations of the service.

“Records must be reproducible for the sake of referral and patients’ consent must be obtained to record their details. That said, MMC is not giving permission to virtual consultations, we are giving guidance and reference to doctors that practice it in order to maintain standard of care,” he said.

In an email reply to us, the MoH said the report by Alpha Catalyst for a regulatory framework will most likely be finalised by early December.

“We will pursue further the option for the regulatory framework including a sandbox if required based on the findings and recommendations in the report. Usually used for new emerging technologies/innovations, [it] may not be useful for telemedicine,” says Fazilah Shaik Allaudin, senior director of the ministry’s medical development division.

Neighbouring example

In April 2018, Singapore launched its first regulatory sandbox — Licensing Experimentation and Adaptation Programme (LEAP) for the telemedicine industry, enabling development in the space with close monitoring of all aspects of safety, including clinical processes, medication delivery and data protection, while co-creating the appropriate regulations.

What should be regulated in the telemedicine space? Well, everything.

“It’s not just doctors’ practice or medical practitioners. It’s also data management, user privacy etc. Telemedicine is an industry, and everything that goes into it has to be regulated,” says Choy.

New wings

While it may take months before the regulatory framework is finalised, DoctorOnCall is not resting on its laurels.

Riding on the winds of change, the startup is on a fundraising trail to boost its operations. Virumandi declined to share further details but said there’s been “a huge traction from some top investors in Malaysia and Southeast Asia”.

Things were definitely not the same when DoctorOnCall first started in 2016. The founding team, says Virumandi, hasn’t taken a salary in the last four years. Investors were not convinced of the potential of the telemedicine industry, especially with the impending regulations rigmarole.

“A lot of them were short-sighted in not understanding the same regulatory barriers and the high barriers of entry ( Porter’s Five Forces) into the business. It’s like a castle with a very deep moat, and there’s a lot of gold in it. They didn’t think we could penetrate that,” says Virumandi.

Where Shopbacks Positioned Themselves in the Industry and How they Measure against Different Players

Relationships with customers are also dangled for merchants. Chan likens ShopBack Go to the Starbucks app and loyalty programme, but in a form that’s accessible to smaller retailers. Larger chains could invest in their own app, but ShopBack hopes they’ll tap its platform to reach new customers and their existing base by offering deals. Brands can also hop on, as with the online product, with incentives if users buy their products through specific retailers.

Both Chan and Chhor—the ShopBack investor—admit the theory is still to be proven. But they see potential for expansion to markets with high consumer spend and a propensity for savings. If successful, ShopBack Go could massively grow revenues.

Offline on hold

Offline on hold

ShopBack’s international operations continue chugging but its offline programme, ShopBack Go, is on hold during the outbreak. That applies both operationally in Singapore and for market expansions, which Chan said had been planned for this year.

ShopBack is currently in the process of signing up mobile wallet partners, having landed Visa payWave and Mastercard PayPass on launch. The strategy is to extend the benefit of cashback offline by allowing users to link their favourite payment methods to their ShopBack account.

Payment companies don’t make revenue through ShopBack Go. They are incentivised to build a direct relationship with their customers, who typically interface with their bank. That could present opportunities to sell in other services, or simply increase engagement with existing products against competitors.

“E-commerce is just 2-10% of retail. The real market is offline.”


Other future monetisation strategies could include targeting advertising to brands. This would see ShopBack promote links to brand’s websites in exchange for money upfront and on condition of sales.

In response to lockdowns, ShopBack is currently “thinking of new ways for merchants to reach consumers” remotely using its platform, according to Chan.

Moving up

E-commerce in Southeast Asia is forecast to grow to $153 billion in 2025 from $38 billion in 2019, according to a report from Google, Temasek and Bain. The figures pre-date the Covid-19 outbreak, but overall upwards growth bodes well for ShopBack and others that work with e-commerce platforms.

By virtue of its recent funding, the company isn’t on the hook financially. “The answer to the pandemic isn’t just to raise money, but to get your house in order,” Chan said. The new cash, though, may allow it to enter other people’s houses, too.

“I strongly believe they can weather this virus situation,” said Willson Cuaca, co-founder of East Ventures, a Singapore VC that invested in ShopBack at Series A stage. “With their cash position, they are well placed to be acquisitive.” Cuaca added that ShopBack adapted fast at the beginning of the pandemic. “They’re aware of the situation and what is being hit.”

As founder, Chan said he’s had to learn the virtue of patience. The deal with Temasek, for one thing, took 18 months to come to fruition. With the business in hibernation across some segments, the new test is being in the right place once Asia’s economies reopen.

Why India Decided to Turn Off the Checkout Counter Agents in Shopping Centers and Mega Malls

However, domestic travel—which saw a recovery in April, according to a Flight Global report—kept the lights on for three of China’s largest carriers. The state-owned carriers, however, had to resort to a steep drop in fares—by as much as 90% in some cases—to attract flyers.

India-SEA tourism ties

India-SEA tourism ties

International budget carriers also connect tier II cities in India with overseas destinations in Southeast Asia—there’s Thai Smile to Varanasi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Gaya; Thai AirAsia which flies to Trichy, Scoot by Singapore Airlines connects to Jaipur; and AirAsia flights from Bhubaneshwar to Kuala Lumpur

There might not be a similar recovery in other countries as OTAs and airlines are already struggling, says Sanjay Goel, vice president of engineering for flights at OTA Cleartrip.

“For airlines, the biggest priority will be to optimise their inventory, given that occupancy is expected to remain low. As a result, they may cut down on the number of flights in certain sectors. The short-haul sectors will be affected the most as people will prefer using private vehicles for short-haul trips,” says Goel.

Hotels press the panic button

With flights grounded, hotels saw fewer customers. The data for the drop in scheduled flights and drop in hotel room bookings—and the rise in cancellations rates—in each country are similar, tied to when and how strict the lockdowns were.

Singapore is an exception. The city-state saw a drop in booking numbers much earlier—around early January. However, the country’s hotels got some respite in mid-to-late March, when they hosted Malaysian workers left stranded after the border between the two countries were closed.

Tourist-heavy destinations Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia recorded the steepest drops—74.8%, 87.8%, and 93.8%, respectively—from the eleventh week onwards. The bookings were also lower since the start of the year as the number of tourists from China dropped due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The particularly sharp drop in Malaysia’s numbers was due to its Movement Control Order (MCO)—a kind of lockdown—issued on 18 March. The country closed its borders to international visitors and decreed that hotels could not accept guests.

“China is a major source market for Malaysia from an inbound perspective. Its staggered ban of Chinese nationals—based on the provinces they resided in—since end-January also explains the severe drop,” said Chetan Kapoor, co-founder and COO of Videc, a hospitality advisory and analytics firm.

Unusual dichotomy—shallow demand but rising rates

Ajay Bakaya, managing director of Sarovar Hotels, says the chain is operating only 20 out of its 83 hotels in India. Though he expects travel to revive sooner rather than later, he also expects room rates to take a hit.

However, RateGain’s data, which was not available for all countries, shows that average daily rates ( ADRs) are back to the levels they were in January for India. In Indonesia, they have actually risen since the start of the year.

Watching India’s Economic and Political Predicament Before Your Very Eyes

RateGain culled and analysed data from its platform for more than 135,000 hotels across India, China, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It also shared data on over 900 commercial airlines in partnership with OAG, an aviation data intelligence company. The data is divided into two periods—January through the first week of May this year, and the same period last year, with an equal number of samples taken for both periods.

Buckle your seatbelts

Buckle your seatbelts

While airlines have suffered in general as travellers shelved their plans, flight schedule data mapped out by country show some larger patterns.

This covers both international and domestic commercial flights in each country, irrespective of the carrier.

The sharp drop in India and the Philippines is reflective of the sudden ban on flights. In India, international flights were suspended from 22 March, while domestic flights were suspended two days later when the nationwide lockdown started. The last week of March, therefore, shows a 68% plunge in scheduled flights as compared to last year.

Similarly, in the Philippines, on 16 March the government said it would stop issuing visas and placed a blanket ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities. Filipinos travelling as tourists were barred from leaving the country. This resulted in a 31% drop in scheduled flights that week. Both domestic and international flights in the country are suspended until 31 May.

Singapore is an interesting case since all flights taking off and landing in the island nation are international flights. As other countries—notably China—started closing their borders in early 2020, Singapore saw a steady drop in scheduled flights. The drop accelerated in late March, when Singapore Airlines said it would halt 96% of its flights.

Transit is a huge business for the country’s national carrier, Singapore Airlines. With that coming to a stop, schedules have taken a hit and the airline slumped to its first net loss in its 48-year history. The island nation’s Changi Airport also suspended operations at two of its terminals this month.

“Singapore’s strong position in connecting traffic has been impacted through Covid, but as travel restrictions ease, it will undoubtedly recover to its previous position of strength”, says Mayur Patel, regional sales director of Japan and Asia-Pacific for OAG.

But while the number of scheduled flights crashed, they did not go to zero in any country. Some carriers have ferried medical personnel or have been used to rescue nationals stranded in other countries. Some airlines also use passenger aircrafts for cargo operations, says Patel.

Aviation—“that sinking feeling”

In Indonesia, where the lockdown has not been as severe as in other countries, the drop in scheduled flights is a relatively tepid 25.9% for the week of 4 May—compared to the same period last year.

China, though, gives hope. Its flight traffic is picking up, albeit gradually. The country where the first case of Covid was recorded went into and emerged from its lockdown much before others. Still, as of last week, scheduled flights in China were down 32% year-on-year, largely due to little to no international air traffic.


The view I have is I think I’m invested in building OYO for the very long term

Now the growth will definitely change. If the growth was 200% or 300%, it may come down. It may not be that triple-digit percentage, maybe 60%, or maybe 80%. Something in that range. In today’s world, growth is not at the top of my mind. To survive, serve your key stakeholders, recover, and then grow, is. My belief is we are still left with, after the cost structure changes that we’ve done, a significant amount of firepower for incremental growth.

Firepower for incremental growth

Firepower for incremental growth

Q. Tragic as the pandemic has been, it is, in a sense, bringing to the fore, two strengths that OYO has. First, capital as a moat, given that you have more than US$1 billion of dry powder. Secondly, increased leverage with hotel partners since many hotels might be looking to partner with companies like yours in these uncertain times.

Regarding the capital, the goal at this point of time is to see through the crisis by serving our consumers and our partners. And when the world comes back, keep a decent amount of capital available so that we can invest in growth at that point of time.

I am putting my money where my mouth is. Remember that I have not sold a single share of mine in any secondary so far, and it’s not like I have a ton of savings.


The second one is where we see opportunity in two ways; first with new owners and the second with old owners. With new owners, to build and forge relationships, especially in locations where we’ve always wanted to be, and we could not find opportunity to get into. This is what we are seeing in China, for example, post-Covid. Earlier, we had challenges in China, but Covid seems to have really reset people’s minds in every manner.

Q. One of the most talked about fundings of last year was when you borrowed US$2 billion to invest into OYO alongside SoftBank. Doesn’t that put you on a ticking time bomb, at least from one sense, that now you need to think about your own loan and making sure that margin call does not happen? As opposed to wondering about what is good for the company, maybe, at that point of time. Does OYO need to save Ritesh Agarwal, rather than the other way around?

For me, building OYO and making this successful is the most important thing. And I am not just saying this—I am putting my money where my mouth is. Remember that I have not sold a single share of mine in any secondary so far, and it’s not like I have a ton of savings. The only money I have is that loan, which also sits in a holding company that I cannot use to pay for my normal expenses.

So if I were to look at my personal situation—on paper, the wealth may be worth whatever, but the actual savings situation would be very, very slim. But I don’t mind it.

The World According to Ritesh Agarwal; Tales of Innovation, Sustainability, and Digital Empowerment

So for me, the belief has been to figure out—“What does a customer in India demand?”—and provide that. My customers tell me that they are looking for a clean and affordable room in a good location. We give them that and that is why they come. And the signage outside the hotel is how you get to the top of the funnel. I am very focussed on conversion and not so much on traffic. Because I believe if you have the best conversion metrics, you can create a virtuous cycle.

Now remember, this is my philosophy and I’ve been challenged a lot on this, including by my chief financial officer, my chief marketing officer, and my chief strategy officer. Everybody challenges me saying, “Ritesh, you’re too obsessed with conversion.” But I believe in it because India is supply-constrained as far as quality options are concerned.

That’s the mindset I have operated with for a long period of time now, for good or for bad. It doesn’t mean we don’t try new top-of-the-funnel things. But so far, our occupancy has done okay for all the new hotels we opened with the repeat customers primarily.

So what is the top-of-the-funnel split right now between the direct customers, the OTAs, and walk-ins?

In India, I think a majority of our business—in the range of 93-94%—would be from non-OTA channels.

For most of our competitors, this number may be dramatically lower because they depend highly on OTAs, specifically and Trivago, to funnel business. Our model works the best for hotel partners as well because they don’t need to give double commission, first to the brand and the second to the online travel agency.

If I were to split that 93% further, the majority of it will be through online channels—the app and browser—so I would say probably 65% or so. You would anticipate around 20% more from corporate/enterprise sales. And then you’d have 6% primarily through walk-ins.

The Postnatal OYO Interview

The Postnatal OYO Interview

Q. If you have such a high percentage of direct customers and an equally high percentage of repeat customers, why is there a perception, at least on social media, of widespread consumer resentment against OYO? A social media search shows a vast number of people complaining the experience was substandard. Similarly OYO’s customer satisfaction scores on OTAs like are often very low. How do you reconcile that?

The headline answer is OYO has served 19 million customers in India, and we have many more app downloads. And these are consumers who we have full details of, some consumers we may or may not have full details of like walk-ins, and so on and so forth.

90% of our revenue comes from repeat and word of mouth. So, there are definitely some customers who are happy about coming back to OYO. At the same time, there are definitely some customers who are unhappy. And if you compare that to any other leading startups in India like Ola or Swiggy, you will get thousands of complaints for each of those brands on social media. That doesn’t mean that a large percent of our customers are unhappy.

The story behind the evolution of a Hero

Our brand promise with OYO was that for roughly Rs 1,500 (US$20) per night, a traveller would get a clean room of a minimum specified size with AC, WiFi, and free breakfast. I believed that such a value proposition would fly off the shelves.

How it all started

How it all started

So I pivoted Oravel to Oravel Inns and offered this service myself. From there, we moved to the OYO avatar and tied up with other hotel partners to offer this standardised, predictable offering countrywide.

Q. That is an interesting back story. While this may well have been a true market gap, what made you believe that this was a value proposition that could be monetised at scale? Even if you could monetise it, how would OYO make money from a room that charges Rs 800 (US$10.5), Rs 1,000 (US$13) or Rs 1,500 per night?

So here’s the thing. I think one of the things that has not been very well understood about our model is the key driver of unit economics. If you speak to folks at Treebo or Fab Hotels, I’m sure you will hear the same things. People think that the average room rent, or ARR in hotel parlance, is the most important metric. It is not.

What is far more important is RevPar or Revenue per available room. For a long time, asset owners operated in a manner where they said that “Because I invested so much capital expenditure, I require Rs 3,000 (US$39.5) or Rs 2,000 (US$26) in the form of earning from this room”. But the occupancy remained very slim.

For instance, if you have a room with Rs 3,000 ARR but a 20% occupancy, your RevPar becomes Rs 600 (US$8). So, the first important criteria for us was to explain that a room of Rs 1000 with 80% occupancy is better than one at Rs 3,000 with just 20% occupancy. If your occupancy is higher, you can easily get 25-30% higher net revenue outcome even if your rates are lower. Very simple principle, right? Anybody who understands any fixed cost business will understand the difference between the price and volume. Our value proposition to the hotel owner was that we will help you get these higher occupancy rates and split the proceeds.

Q. Was OYO the first to offer this type of model? Weren’t entities like Ginger also offering similar services earlier?

Yes, Ginger was there when we launched—they used to offer their rooms at Rs 999, which became a sort of a benchmark for us as well. But they got two things wrong.

One, as soon as they got some demand, they ramped up prices to Rs 2,800 or Rs 2,900 (~US$38). Did they get some short-term RevPar lift? They did. But that dramatically reduced their scale. Because what happened is that they had a certain type of demographic using them but when they increased the price, they became affordable to a much smaller segment of the population —what I call the “credit card customer base”, the 25-30 million Indians who have credit cards.

The problem, as I saw it, was not that there weren’t enough hotels in India. The problem was that for budget travellers, the hotel experience was often broken.


Carsome Online Auction Marketplace to Conquer SEA and Asia Under Wality Group Banner

Last November, Carro teamed up with venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners—also an investor in Carro—and gaming hardware firm Razer to apply for a wholesale digital bank licence in Singapore. Having the licence could help beef up Carro’s underwriting capabilities for automotive-related loans.

Tan told The Ken that Carro is also actively looking to apply for digital bank licences beyond Singapore, without naming any specific country.

Dealing with dealers

Dealing with dealers

There is a blue ocean in the used car market waiting for new players like TiinTiin to dive into. According to Monteiro, used car dealers spend 85% to 90% of their time sourcing cars. Working with used car marketplaces offer these dealers unlimited access to inventory minus brokers.

Steven Soon’s car dealership Amcar Motors came across Carsome around when it was founded. “Carsome has an ongoing database for us dealers to access, and we can make up our minds on what cars we want to bid for. So it’s more transparent, because all the prices, car specifications are listed,” says Soon.

The only difference between a small and large dealership is their access to capital. We believe we have both supply and the product to help them forward and double their business. We have built our product to scale and localise to any market we think is suitable. The ambition is Southeast Asia but definitely Indonesia first, since it is 35% of the regional market.


It’s been a particularly tough time for dealers. In Malaysia alone, about 79% of used car dealers surveyed by Carsome saw their income went down while 32% reported zero income.

Although Malaysia is restarting its economy again with Eid around the corner, sales are still slow, notes Soon. The festive season is usually a peak period for automotives sales. But Carsome’s Cheng is not worried.

Based on its platform’s data, Carsome claims it saw about 70% in sales recovery since markets like Malaysia and Thailand started opening up in May.

The startup has also launched a support programme worth up to RM55.5 million (US$12.7 million) to help dealers rebuild their businesses and finances. It offers cash rewards when dealers purchase inventories from Carsome, credit lines to improve cash flow, and advertising support to drive sales.

Meanwhile, Carros’ Tan thinks consumers will still err on the side of caution in the coming months. “I think it will be a W-shape recovery—we will see a momentary spike but it will decline and stabilise before going back up. Primarily due to lack of availability of credit (through financial institutions) and the broader macro outlook,” he says.

C2B2C: a circuitous route

Beyond facilitating used car transactions, financing and insurance are becoming increasingly important verticals for used car marketplaces. With a huge pool of used car transaction data, these marketplaces become the key for banks to tap into for the used car loan segment.

“[The auto-lending scene in Southeast Asia is] huge. Indonesia and Thailand sell about 4 million cars [used and new] annually. Assuming an average order value of just US$10,000, that would be a US$40 billion potential loan market,” says Carro’s Tan.


5 Things You Didn’t Know about PLAYING THE GAME

A funding round for ZEN from an undisclosed Chinese investor fell through at the last minute in 2018, as per a source with knowledge of events. Deep in financial trouble, ZEN had to downsize its business. It exited several of its eight Southeast Asian markets and executed brutal layoffs

ZEN has since stayed focussed on the Philippines. The company offers guarantees selectively, and most of its properties are fully leased, giving it better control of the margins, said co-founder Boublil. Its SaaS product—alongside a revenue management service—helps hotel owners manage inventory and distribute rooms online without giving up their own brand. As a result, they don’t have to spend on sprucing up their property to join a franchise chain.

Been there, done that

Been there, done that

The SaaS product enjoys a “special distribution” arrangement with online travel agent (OTA), which backs Yanolja, said Boublil. He added that the SaaS business has continued generating revenue during the Covid-19 crisis, but declined to divulge any figures.

But ZUZU offered the SaaS-plus-service model first. The model made sense as people no longer cared about the brand in the mid-to-budget segment thanks to OTAs, which provide crucial information like customer reviews.

Today, ZUZU has more than 2,000 hotels as clients, to which the startup has delivered an average 40% increase in online revenue, claimed co-founder Vikram Malhi. We could not independently verify the claim. ZUZU earns mainly by taking a cut of the revenue, which is why its business has been affected by the crisis. But because it doesn’t need to hire people to manage properties nor spend on minimum guarantees, “we were profitable on a unit basis [before the crisis],” he said.

Unlike ZUZU, ZEN may find it harder to scale its SaaS business because of conflict-of-interest concerns. “If I’m an independent hotel owner, how can I be sure that ZEN is not prioritising its properties over mine?” said an investor who asked to remain anonymous to avoid upsetting any of the players in the space.

Finding ways to cope

It appears that investors were right to worry about whether the OYO model, while scalable, was sustainable.

With revenue on a downhill slide, hotel chains, mainly OYO and RedDoorz, have been compelled to restructure their contracts with franchised hotels. They’ve pulled the plug on guarantees, claiming force majeure. Both have switched those contracts to pure revenue-sharing. “Everything we have implemented has been done as per our contract terms and in full accordance with the hotel partners’ support,” said RedDoorz’s Saberwal.

For wholly-leased properties, companies had to make concessions with hoteliers, getting them to waive rent, agree on a discount or defer payment due dates.

ZEN’s exposure to minimum guarantees was little, claimed Boublil. Landlords of half of its fully leased properties in primary market Philippines, as well as Singapore agreed to negotiated terms. The other half enjoyed high occupancy rates—when borders closed, Singapore had to play host to a large number of its stranded Malaysian workers. In the Philippines, a ban on all public transportation meant accommodation for workers near offices.

Hotel Industry Overview and Open Questions

The problem is simple. The two companies, in competition with each other, have grown too fast—OYO more than RedDoorz—to sustain in the face of crises.

Just months ago, they seemed unstoppable

Just months ago, they seemed unstoppable

The catalyst? OYO. Lounging in Malaysia since 2016, OYO expanded to the rest of the region from 2018, starting with Indonesia. RedDoorz wasn’t going to sit quietly. It raised a US$45 million Series B round in 2018, although it was only announced the following year, according to a former employee. A Series C round worth US$70 million followed in 2019.

This as revenue from online hotel bookings in Southeast Asia was expected to jump from US$13.6 billion per year in 2019 to US$38 billion by 2025, according to a report by Google, Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, and management consultancy Bain & Company.

RedDoorz and OYO would one-up each other’s minimum guarantee offers to poach hotel partners. The frenetic pace was exemplified in Thailand, where RedDoorz set up an office in late 2019 only to close it down when the pandemic started to unfold.

The company was also said to be burdened by runaway expenses. “Corporate credit cards were doled out generously. Expense approvals came left and right,” the former employee said.

Guide to Choosing the Right Hotel Startup to Accelerate Your Business Growth

Forget the math, what’s important was to close deals, ex-employees of both companies said. “We were extremely growth-driven,” said a former OYO employee in the Philippines. “The marching order was to get as many hotel rooms as possible. We did whatever it took to achieve that.”

The minimum guarantee that RedDoorz gave out was not backed by data or science, but “by stupidity”, pointed out the former employee cited above. The minimum guarantee was often more than 100% of a hotel’s monthly revenue, the person added.

RedDoorz’s Saberwal, however, said his company has been selective with its minimum guarantee model. “We have further reduced this programme in 2019 with profitability becoming the larger priority for us.”

But Saberwal also said that there’s a time for growth and a time for profitability. “Not even for a second do we regret being in growth mode. We were in a situation where if we would not have grown, we would not have been the number one player, simply because OYO was coming down with how many billions of dollars of funding. The money we raised was meant to be spent,” he told us.

The smaller players like ZEN and ZUZU, meanwhile, have played it safe. Although in ZEN’s case, it appears not to have been out of choice. Founded in 2015, the startup also prioritised regional growth metrics over scaling sustainably in its initial years. It had the backing of German investor Rocket Internet.

However, it had to scale back after a supposed near-collapse in early 2018 because of lack of funding. It was saved by a US$15 million strategic investment from Yanolja later that year.