Indonesian photo-sharing app PicMix scores $3M Series A

PicMix founder Calvin Kizana (center) with Gobi Partners' Victor Chua (left) and Thomas Tsao (right)

PicMix founder Calvin Kizana (center) with Gobi Partners’ Victor Chua (left) and Thomas Tsao (right)

PicMix, a photo-sharing app based in Indonesia, will build more features and venture into new international markets after raising a Series A totaling $3 million.

The first close consists of $1 million from Gobi Partners, while the remaining final close of $2 million is from a strategic investor that hasn’t been disclosed yet.

Launched back in 2012 when BlackBerry was the most popular smartphone in Indonesia, PicMix was created to give the platform’s users better photo-editing tools since there weren’t many apps available, says founder and CEO Calvin Kizana. Within two months, PicMix claims it reached a million users. Versions for Android and Windows rolled out at the end of 2014, with an iPhone app added a year later. Now the startup has about 27 million registered users.

PicMixIndonesians are among the world’s most avid social media users. Facebook, Instagram, BlackBerry Messenger, Line, and Path are all popular, but Kizana says PicMix doesn’t position itself as a competitor and instead tries to integrate into most other social media platforms.

PicMix’s largest single user base, or about 35 percent, is still in Indonesia, but it is also gaining traction in African markets where BlackBerry smartphones used to be popular. About 22 percent of its users are in South Africa and another 16 percent in Nigeria. PicMix is currently working on growth strategies for those markets and looking for brand partners in South Africa. Venezuela is another one of its top markets.

Kizana says that the startup hasn’t had to spend any money on marketing so far, but decided to raise a Series A four years after its launch because “this year we would like to be more aggressive and need to boost our user acquisition, as well as taking care of user retention to win the market in mobile content discovery and social commerce space, especially in Indonesia, says Kizana.

Some of the capital will go toward marketing, events, and hiring. It is also planning to expand PicMix Mall, an in-app peer-to-peer marketplace, by working with small e-commerce businesses that want more exposure and opening it to users outside of Indonesia. Another part of its revenue model are partnerships with brands that run campaigns on PicMix or use it to host contests. The company has already partnered with about 60 brands in Indonesia and claims that each contest gets an average of 6,000 user submissions.

Finally, PicMix’s Series A will also be used to build a machine learning engine to analyze user data and give more insight to brands and improve its content discovery features.