WhatsApp has long since moved beyond its origins as a basic messaging app for pals and is now a key tool for businesses looking to communicate directly with their clients – both literally and figuratively speaking. The parent firm of WhatsApp has taken notice of the fact that countless businesses are using the ubiquitous messaging service to lay the groundwork for their operations.
In fact, the corporate megabrand behind Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, Meta Platforms Inc., recently made an investment in Take App, Youmin Kim, a former Facebook engineering manager who left the social network last year to focus on a new product, created a young Singaporean firm that aims to close the digital divide for small-business owners in Southeast Asia.
Take App’s primary function is to provide those with little technological expertise with an easy way to put up a straightforward website to allow online orders, complete with a shopping cart, payments, and a direct connection to WhatsApp for managing and tracking the final transaction.
While restaurants are a central focus for the Take App service, the company also works with bakeries, grocery businesses, beauty salons, among others.
“Our unique selling point is that we let merchants keep direct WhatsApp conversations with customers,” Kim explained to TechCrunch. “Merchants love the idea that they receive notifications and order details directly in WhatsApp — no other app or login is required.”
On top of that, Take App is looking to help businesses drive repeat custom through maintaining a database, with support for creating and sending newsletters (like a “Mailchimp for WhatsApp”) that include special offers or relevant company updates.
While the core Take App service is free, the company also offers a bunch of premium features which includes things like advanced analytics, unlimited image uploads, and custom domain names.
The story so far
At the beginning of the pandemic, Kim founded Take App as a non-profit to assist small Singaporean eateries in accepting online orders, but he soon realized there was a large possibility to turn this into a for-profit business. Currently, the company claims that 1,000 enterprises from 35 different markets have used Take App, although the majority are situated in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
As part of the accelerator’s Winter 22 class, Take App also just graduated from Y Combinator (YC), which prompted YC to invest in the business as part of a $1 million investment with Meta and an unnamed group of angel investors. This initial capital round was surreptitiously concluded back in June.
Take App is an offshoot of other firms with a similar business model, such Charles, based in Germany, which just secured $20 million to expand conversational commerce — and newsletters — to WhatsApp in Europe. It’s tough to overlook the similarities, but Kim insists that Take App was created with simplicity in mind for a very particular kind of business in a very particular region of the world.
The most popular commercial communication method in Southeast Asia is WhatsApp, but operating it is expensive because staff members must reply to numerous discussions, as Kim told TechCrunch. There are ‘western’ CRM solutions that can make this more effective, but our merchants find them to be prohibitively expensive or challenging. We concentrate on conventional companies that have a digital gap.