TrustedCompany.com, a review platform for e-commerce businesses in emerging markets like Southeast Asia and India, announced today that it has raised a Series A round of $1 million led by Tengelmann Ventures, with participation from 500 Startups and returning investor Asia Venture Group.
The company, which launched in November 2013 and is based in Malaysia and Hong Kong, claims to be the first review platform for e-commerce in emerging markets. In the first half of 2014, TrustedCompany.com has grown to 20 employees, and plans to use its Series A financing to continue expanding in Southeast Asia, and enter Africa and Brazil.
Since launching, the company says that it has seen month-over-month usage growth of more than 40 percent and now has over 500,00 company profiles on the site that consumers can contribute reviews to.
The site’s indirect competitors include forums and platforms such as Mouthshut, Complaintboard, and Facebook groups, says TrustedCompany.com’s co-founder and managing director Frederik Krass. TrustedCompany.com wants to differentiate by localizing for each market that it enters.
“The current state of emerging e-commerce holds tremendous opportunities for solutions that tackle scam, fraud, and other types of abuse, and we strongly believe that creating trust through third-party verified reviews do help overcome these issues,” Krass told TechCrunch. “On the other hand, we believe that localizing our service for each market is a must.”
He added that while other online forums often serve as a repository for complaints, TrustedCompany.com wants to provide a more thorough picture of a company’s customer service by serving as an open platform so that “online businesses can invite all their users, so both satisfied and dissatisfied customers write about their experiences, leaving an authentic picture.”
TrustedCompany.com’s clients include Lenskart in India, Malaysia’s iMoney.my, 8share, and myiMart, and Pricearea in Indonesia, and Printi and HTS Latarias in Brazil.
One noteworthy aspect of TrustedCompany.com’s Series A is that lead investor Tengelmann Ventures is also a major investor in several businesses launched by Rocket Internet, the German super-incubator that plans to hold an IPO later this year. Rocket Internet’s properties include Global Fashion Group, which consolidates five fashion brands (Dafiti, Jabong, Lamoda, Namshi, and Zalora) that it operates in some of the same markets as TrustedCompany.com, including Latin America, India, and Southeast Asia.
Krass said that TrustedCompany.com plans to handle any potential conflicts of interest by being a third-party platform with “openness and transparency” that anyone can contribute to.
“In our view, an open approach is the only way you can win consumers’ trust in the long run, as it allows everyone to get a good picture of the reality for themselves. This is our vision and strongest goal and at the same time prevents any conflict of interest for us, not only with regards to Tengelmann and Rocket Internet, but also to any online company that makes use of our product.”