Atap.co Raises Funds from RHL Ventures
The Malaysia-based design marketplace will use the investment to solidify its presence in home country
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The interior design industry is thriving despite challenges like cost management, client expectations and recruiting best talent. By going niche in their product offerings, some online startups are standing out in the overcrowded market.
Malaysia-based Atap.co connects home-owners and office-owners to architects and interior designers. The platform was founded in 2015 by Shen Maosheng and Seow Yao Han, tech entrepreneurs who created the automotive review website Live Life Drive, which was acquired by the regional car selling platform iCar Asia in 2013.
The online marketplace recently received investment from Malaysia-based private investment firm RHL Ventures. The investment will be used by Atap.co to solidify its market presence in Malaysia, which includes the development of a physical experience centre in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Consolidation in Interior Designing Space
Atap.co is Shen Maosheng's and Yao Han's most immediate venture following Live Life Drive and was created to help consolidate the fragmented interior designer and architect market in Malaysia through a proprietary online platform that links them to customers, namely home- and office-owners.
"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. 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," says Maosheng Shen, co-founder of Atap.co.
Since 2014, it is estimated that the building sector in Malaysia has experienced an 8.7 per cent growth, with 70 per cent of projects being carried out by the private sector. This has helped to foster the tremendous growth of interior design and decorators in the nation. However, the sector's potential has not been fully realized as many designers – especially those in the B2C segment – still rely on word of mouth to land projects.
"We decided to back Atap.co as they are helping to bring in much-need innovation in Malaysia's interior design market. Maosheng, Yao Han 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," says Rachel Lau, managing partner of RHL Ventures.
From beginning Atap.co with just two people, Maosheng Shen and Yao Han has grown their team to 16, comprising 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 utilizing the platform.
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.