Airtasker’s $6.5 million raise will be used to boost product development but more importantly plan for the company’s expansion into Asia, according to co-founder and chief executive Tim Fung.
The latest capital injection, announced on Tuesday morning, brings the total funds raised by the startup to $10 million.
The raise was led by Shanghai-based Morning Crest Capital, along with Australia’s NRMA and Exto Partners, Carthona Capital and Black Sheep Capital.
An expansion into Asia was first flagged by Airtasker in late 2013 as a way to gain a foothold in a market largely untouched by competitors such as Elance-oDesk.
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Speaking to StartupSmart this morning, Fung said Airtasker will focus on Australia for the next 12 months or so in order to build the best possible platform.
However, after that time the team will “definitely be looking to China” because online marketplaces are proving popular with consumers.
“That’s going bananas over there, so we think there will be some stops at some more middle-ground countries like Singapore and Hong Kong on the way to China,” he says.
“The other thing with China is that whilst they have massive amounts of tech penetration – and social media usage is just crazy in terms of mobile – their audience is quite undertrained in terms of how to use this kind of software and products. So there is about a year or two of education the big companies need to do over there to prepare the market.”
Fung says while there are significant cultural differences Airtasker will have to overcome if it is to gain a foothold in China, he is optimistic his startup will be able to develop the level of trust necessary in a two-sided marketplace.
“In Australia I think if you meet someone on an online dating site or LinkedIn there is a high level of trust – you could bring them to your office or take them to a coffee,” he says.
“Whereas in China that trust has not been developed in the online space that well. One of our big focuses that will be quite different to Australia is about educating the market and building that reputational trust network. While that is a challenge, because there is a lack of trust right now that is the biggest opportunity… the opportunities off the back of that are just massive.”
Founded in 2012, Airtasker now processes more than $15 million worth of tasks each year.