ATAP.CO, an online marketplace to source and hire interior designers, will be getting a boost with the entry of private investment firm RHL Ventures.
RHL Ventures did not disclose the amount of its investment but noted that it is a “seven figure sum in ringgit”.
The funds will be used to solidify Atap.co’s presence in Malaysia, which includes the development of a physical experience centre in Petaling Jaya.
The startup was founded in 2015 by Shen Maosheng and Seow Yao Han, both of whom are tech entrepreneurs who created the automotive review website Live Life Drive. The website was acquired by the regional car selling platform iCar Asia in 2013.
Atap.co was created to help consolidate the fragmented interior designer and architect market in Malaysia via a proprietary online platform that links them to customers, namely home- and office-owners. The platform also enables the sourcing and hiring of digital publishers for interior design and home and living content.
“In today’s market, those in need of interior design work would typically look to the Internet only to find that their search lists are dominated by large and expensive firms that can afford to maintain an online presence,” said Shen, co-founder of Atap.co.
“We therefore created Atap.co to match up-and-coming interior design businesses in Malaysia with prospective clients leads, which our in-house technologies help verify to ensure that the leads are genuine and not automated.”
Since 2014, it is estimated that the building sector in Malaysia has experienced an 8.7% growth, with 70% of projects being carried out by the private sector . This has helped foster the tremendous growth of interior design and decorators in the nation.
However, the sector’s potential has not been fully realised as many designers – especially those in the business-to-consumer segment – still rely on word of mouth to land projects.
“We decided to back Atap.co as they are helping to bring in much-needed innovation in Malaysia’s interior design market,” said Rachel Lau, managing partner of RHL Ventures.
“Shen, Seow and their team are helping to highlight the breadth of talent possessed by our homegrown designers – which we consider as having the potential to stand toe-to-toe with their international peers,” she added.
Atap.co started with two people, Shen and Seow, and has grown to 16 people. The team comprises professionals within IT, sales and marketing as well as an in-house content team.
To-date, as many as 1,580 interior designers have been utilising the Atap.co platform.
Over the past two years, Atap.co – via its Leads Marketplace – has listed nearly 3,000 renovation jobs which have carried a budget value of RM415mil. During this period, the website has drawn in 480,000 average monthly site visitors.
With assistance from RHL Ventures, the company plans to launch a physical experience centre in Petaling Jaya to raise the level of immersion for prospective interior design customers. The venture is part of the company’s strategy to entrench its position in Malaysia which will see it extend its interior design network in the Klang Valley and Johor before entering Penang in the immediate future.
The company also has a long-term view to expand its services across South-East Asia.