Shopify has made an investment in Hong Kong SaaS startup WATI’s $23 million USD Series B round.
WATI announced the financing on Wednesday, which was led by Tiger Global, with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital India & Southeast Asia, as well as new investor DST Global Partners, in addition to Shopify. The amount Shopify invested specifically was not disclosed.
“The team has grown, revenue and customers have doubled, and now we look to scale the business, operations, teams around the world.”
– Bianca Ho, WATI co-founder
According to WATI, the Series B round marks Shopify’s first venture investment in a startup operating in the Southeast Asia region.
Founded in 2020, WATI offers a customer engagement software that is built on WhatsApp’s Business API. WATI, which stands for WhatsApp Team Inbox, allows small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to send personalized notifications from their system. They can also support customers through a collaborative team inbox with multiple agents, smart routing, canned responses, data tagging, and analytics.
Since its launch, WATI claims to have over 6,000 customers across 78 countries, comprising SMBs like Shopify stores, and companies that provide domestic house cleaning services to schools, tutorial centres, medical institutions, and others.
WATI claims that it has raised over $35 million to date, including its $8.3 million Series A funding round in December 2021 led by Sequoia Capital India.
While the investment marks Shopify’s first in a startup operating in the Southeast Asia region, it is not its first in customer relations software. Last year, Shopify also invested in United States-based Loop, which helps brands with refund and exchange management.
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Shopify has a long history of investing in companies, many of which have connections to its ecosystem. This includes Israel-based e-commerce marketing company Yotpo. Shopify also holds sizeable stakes in American payment processing firm Stripe and buy now, pay later company Affirm.
A number of Shopify’s investments tend to be strategic in nature, such as its $100 million partnership with marketing automation SaaS provider Klaviyo in August, and in US-based AI recommendation startup Crossing Minds, which lets Shopify businesses use Crossing Mind’s product recommendation platform.
In July, Shopify also completed its acquisition of Deliverr to expand its in-house fulfillment network, and last year invested in Vancouver bookkeeping firm Bench.
In line with its strategic investing, Shopify has also established a partnership with WATI, according to WATI co-founder Bianca Ho, who said that WATI doubled down on its product with more automations, and went vertical in its approach by creating integrations and partnerships with the likes of Shopify, Zoho, and Google Sheets, among others.
WATI’s new capital will be allocated towards scaling WATI’s team and investments in its product stack for low-code automation. The startup said it also plans to bolster its go-to-market plans in regions such as Latin America and Southeast Asia. WATI said that it grew its remote-first team by 50 percent this year, tapping talent from Twitter and Freshworks.
“The team has grown, revenue and customers have doubled, and now we look to scale the business, operations, teams around the world,” said Ho.
Featured image courtesy of WATI.