Hong Kong Travel Startup ‘Klook’ Raises Seed Round to Fund Mainland China Expansion Plans

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For those that enjoy planning trips almost as much as the actual traveling itself, there’s a startup we want you to meet.

Klook, a carefully curated activity-booking platform, was founded by Eric Gnock Fah, Ethan Lin and Bernie Xiong – three wanderlusters with impressive domain experience. Before jumping into the entrepreneurial realm, Gnock Fah was an analyst in consumer retail and China-focused public equities while Lin brings investment banking advisory know-how for the hospitality and real estate sectors. As the technical co-founder, Xiong has years of mobile development experience for both a startup and an R&D lab under his belt.

Just six months in, Klook has grown considerably with a full-time team of eight and concrete plans to expand into Mainland China. As almost 100 million Mainlanders traveled abroad in 2013 and spent a whopping US $128.7 billion in 2013 – the Chinese outbound tourism market is incredibly lucrative for startups like Klook.

Without wasting any time, Klook raised a seed round of several hundred thousand US dollars in August mainly from a strategic Mainland investor with strong ties to the Chinese tourism industry. The founders are tightlipped about the deal particulars for now, but promise to reveal more in future interviews.

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Klook, short for for ‘Keep Looking,’ was inspired on a trip to Nepal. While a myriad of solutions for easy flight and hotel booking already exist on the web, the founders quickly realized how difficult it was to plan activities in advance as most small operators (activity-focused businesses) are offline.

“This is an industry that’s very fragmented, and the sector itself is lacking a platform that has all the cool activities consolidated – so we provide a tool for operators to reach out to travelers,” said Lin. By bringing operators online, Klook not only helps travelers plan ahead but also nails down often wildly fluctuating activity prices.

“There’s no transparency on this side of the market, everyone’s just quoting what they want. We screen all activities to get the market price, and then take into consideration if they’re a good quality operator,” said Gnock Fah. As safety is one of the biggest concerns when planning a trip, the Klook team carefully vets every operator by verifying their business through a government website.

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Besides ensuring operators are legally run, Klook also hires full-time travel curators to test out all activities before posting them on the site. Another feature that makes Klook unique is their ‘connoisseur recommendations’ from the likes of Richard Ekkebus, the Michelin-awarded chef of Amber at the Mandarin Oriental. As some travelers like to ‘live as the locals do,’ these connoisseurs give tips on where to eat and what to do in their home city.

Currently on a soft launch, the site features activities in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and will be expanding into Siem Reap and Bali soon.

klookteam
(The Klook team)

Klook on Startbase.HK: Klook

Eric Gnock Fah on Startbase.HK: Eric Gnock Fah

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