E27.CO: China’s iMaibo, a stock market app, has grown from 10,000 to 100,000 active daily users within nine months, brought on a new CEO and is looking to raise a Series A round of US$5-10 million
Back in October, we covered Chinese stock market app iMaibo’s steady growth. Since their 2012 launch, the Guangzhou-based startup had leapt from 100,000 to 650,000 users in less than a year and announced ambitious growth plans by the first quarter of 2015. We caught up with Jonathan Cai, formerly VP of Business Development and now COO, to see how they’ve fared since.
Besides Cai’s shift to a more managerial role, iMaibo has also swapped in new CEO Gilbert Tse who brings 20 years of experience in Investment Banking and Fund Management in Asia. Cai told e27 that the management shift was to realign the company’s focus onto the FinTech space and revealed plans to raise a Series A round.
“The whole China P2P finance space is really heating up now and we’re looking to raise between US$5-10 million to stay ahead of the curve. We’ve spoken a number of angel investors and VCs in China and across Asia — it’s early stage, but we’re looking to close by the third quarter of 2015,” he said.
Becoming an integrated platform is on iMaibo’s immediate wishlist but that will require strategic investment to build that out. Cai said that they currently have one or two funds interested but would like to raise a sizeable round before finalizing the deal.
Besides upgrading infrastructure, the cash will also go towards hiring staff, picking up new users and acquiring smaller startups in the space.
“We’ve seen a lot of new entrants into this space, people are raising money to do something similar and we expect there will be a lot of consolidation where the smaller companies will be bought out by the larger players,” said Cai.
iMaibo has been making strides since our 2014 coverage, breaking the one million mark in registered users. They’ve also grown from 10,000 to 100,000 active daily users in nine months. Cai also reports that the startup has now hit their goal of being cash flow positive by the first quarter of 2015.
Cai attributes a lot of this growth to a bit of luck and a lot of foresight. “We’re lucky to be in the right space in the right point in time. The stock market is up 50 per cent in China, the government has been very supportive with the fiscal policy and we’re seeing the first boom in the market in seven years. The government has cracked down on shadow banking so we’re glad that we moved early — everyone’s trading and they need to find a platform that caters to their needs,” he said.
Building a business in China is no easy feat, due to swift copycats and lack of IP protection but according to Cai, this will only motivate the two-year-old startup to keep innovating and move quicker than the competition.