According eMarketerJapan and Korea e-commerce markets are estimated to be worth US$144 billion and US$121 billion respectively in 2021. Despite the large size of the e-commerce market, both countries have fewer e-commerce aggregators than others countries with smaller markets.
new vessela South Korean e-commerce aggregator, announced today that it has raised an undisclosed seed round co-led by South Korean internet giant Naver, CKD venture capital and Wooshin Venture Investment, with participation from Lighthouse Combined Investment and S&C Networks to win the market in South Korea and Japan.
The new funding will be used to acquire Korean and Japanese e-commerce brands and hire additional experts in brand management, marketing and supply chain management, New Vessel CEO Jaebin Lee told Ploonge. The startup is currently looking for brands that generate at least $1 million in annual revenue with 15-30% in margins, Lee said, adding that the size of the acquisition deal would be between $1 million and 2 million. The company plans to increase its Series A funding around June or July after completing acquisitions in the first half of this year, Lee noted.
New Vessel was founded in September 2021 by Lee, who has over ten years of experience in the M&A space as a lawyer and investor, and Kyuyong Lee, who previously worked at Japanese e-commerce Rakuten and Korean e-commerce Coupang.
In recent years, the two co-founders have seen the growth of global aggregator giants including Thrasio and Perch. They noted that the e-commerce aggregation industry in South Korea and Japan is just getting started, although e-commerce markets in these countries are among the top in the world. This represents great potential for local aggregators in the regions, Lee told Ploonge.
“It’s only a matter of time. The e-commerce aggregator market [in South Korea and Japan] is full of untapped potential,” Lee said.
The startup says it will partner with sellers in leading e-commerce in Korea and Japan to drive its growth by providing proven optimization strategies and sales expansion tactics. New Vessel aims to help US-based sellers expand in Korea and Japan and vice versa, allowing Korean and Japanese brands to enter the US market, Lee said. New Vessel recently formed a strategic partnership with the US and South Korea based cell phone accessories Spigen to increase its operational strength.
“The vast majority of online brand sellers in Korea are unaware that selling their brands is a possibility. We believe that our partnerships with brand owners will add value not only to sellers, but to consumers as a whole, filling the market with great products at affordable prices.”
Meanwhile, global e-commerce aggregator Thrasio entered Asia by establishing an office in Japan last March to acquire Japanese e-commerce brands.