The move follows the successful pilot of its in-store kiosks called ‘playSpots’ late last year, which deliver consumer engagements called ‘Moments of Joy’ (MoJos), via mini-games in retail stores right at the point of purchase.
The China-based joint venture—incorporated as Fudaksu—will trade as Ksubaka (促巴卡) and brings with it a capital injection of US$15.6 million (RMB100 million) for 2016.
Fullshare Holdings, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is one of China’s largest privately held businesses and specialises as a service operator of green building, community, cities and towns.
Julian Corbett, CEO and founder of Ksubaka, described the joint venture as the “perfect partnership” to scale the business, which will maintain the global Ksubaka branding.
“The combination of our IP and existing brand relationships and Fullshare’s support to deliver the service is exciting,” he added.
The injection of funds will enable the company to scale at speed, with the plan to roll out more than 20,000 playSpots nationally across mainland China by the end of the year.
The company claims that the expanded network will deliver in excess of 1 million daily consumer engagements, defining engagement as a brand interaction lasting for more than 60 seconds.
The platform also offers promotional incentives including: discounts, coupons, loyalty points and interaction into branded WeChat channels.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Corbett said that installations in initial tier-one cities will be complete in the coming weeks, with tier-two and -three cities next on the list in the coming months.
“We have an agreement to have rollout across all of China with the largest supermarket retail chain China Resource Vanguard Co,” he added. “They have over 4,500 locations across the country, and we are starting with the hypermarkets where we are installing 10 playSpots in each.”
During the pilot phase, the company had a presence in Beijing with playSpots present in 80 stores owned by Wumart, a leading Chinese retail company. In Singapore, its network spans 200 screens in Guardian stores, with another 100 screens in FairPrice supermarkets.
The company has already run campaigns for some 20 major brands, including: Clear, Coca-Cola, Colgate, Dove, Head & Shoulders, Heineken, Kellogg’s, Lifebuoy, L’Oreal Paris, Nescafe, Oreos, Sunsilk, Wall’s Ice-Cream and Wrigley.
The best path forward
The joint-venture deal marks a slight detour from the company’s initial plans.
Ksubaka closed a US$5 million Series A funding round in January 2015, from private investors and Dymon Capital Asia. Late last year, Corbett told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the company was looking at a Series B fundraising round.
Asked about the decision to forgo the typical fundraising route, Corbett said the team looked at and had “great traction” on a venture capital path.
“Ultimately however, both the terms of the deal and access that the joint venture provided us with meant that the plan of combining forces resulted in us being able to accelerate much faster in China and get to some 100 million monthly MoJos ahead of our plan,” he added.
While China remains the company’s priority market, entry into other Asian markets is also being explored.
“There is a lot of interest in a number of markets for our solution for delivering an experiential shopper journey and a powerful media solution for engaging deeply with shoppers,” said Corbett. “We have proven the incredible sustainability of our solution since initial roll-out.”
The company is currently looking at three markets, two in Asia and one in Europe, which it intends to launch in within six months.
“We are now in a phase where we are growing all of our metrics by 100 percent month by month and seeing this kind of scalability, with a platform team fully prepared for this kind of growth, is a new and exciting phase for Ksubaka,” said Corbett.