South-east Asia startup KFit targets online-to-offline growth after Groupon deals

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - South-east Asian startup KFit Holdings expects to double its online-to-offline commerce business in 2017 following the recent acquisitions of Groupon's Malaysian and Indonesian operations, its founder said.

Backed by US venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Malaysian telecommunications group Axiata Group, among others, KFit started as a fitness app last year but has increasingly embraced online-to-offline (O2O) commerce as its growth strategy.

It has ramped up lifestyle offerings such as food & beverage, spa and massage deals through its acquisitions of the Groupon operations in the latter half of 2016 for undisclosed sums.

The rising popularity of O2O services, which are also booming in other parts of Asia, such as China, reflects the desires of a growing middle class in South-east Asia, "whose aspirations are to dine out and relax with friends", KFit's founder Joel Neoh said in an interview.

KFit has raised US$15.25 million (S$22 million) in venture funds, of which about half has been utilised for expansion, Mr Neoh said, adding that the group currently generates sales of more than RM100 million (S$32 million) per year.

Malaysia and Indonesia, which together contribute more than 90 per cent of KFit's business, are where growth strategies will be predominantly focused on, said Mr Neoh, who was formerly the head of Groupon Asia-Pacific.

The former Groupon businesses are being integrated into a separate mobile app, Fave, which was launched in July. KFit also aims to incorporate digital payment features on the Fave platform, enabling customers to buy deals, make bookings and transact their payment on the mobile app.

When asked about any plans for a listing, Mr Neoh only said KFit was focused on building the Fave platform. Kuala Lumpur-based KFit also operates in Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila. Fave is available in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Singapore.