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South Korean handmade goods market Backpackr prepares to enter Southeast Asia

About ten years ago, Donghwan Kim helped his ceramic Brother Shi looked for sales outlets, such as flea markets, to sell his ceramics. But they had a hard time finding the right platform, so about a year later, Kim decided to start a craft marketplace of her own in South Korea called Backpackr.

Today, Backpackr, which operates a handicraft marketplace called idus, has raised $16 million (20 billion won) in Series C funding two and a half years after its Series C round, which is 24 million million U.S. dollars (approximately 30 billion won).

The startup is currently valued at about $240.1 million, according to sources familiar with the situation. Backpackr said it had raised a total of $56.8 million since its founding in 2012, but declined to disclose its valuation. Returning investor Altos Ventures is leading the expansion along with Stone Bridge, along with new investors Axiom Asia and Vanderbilt University.

The new capital will help Backpackr in an interview with TechCrunch said that in the second quarter of this year, it will expand into Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, with the goal of becoming the Etsy of Asia. Backpackr also It plans to use the proceeds to invest in research and development, to advance its artificial intelligence-powered search and recommendation systems, and to hire more employees.

This start-up intends to sell Korean-made products overseas and bring Southeast Asian manufacturing The handmade products of Asia to Korea through its platform. Other countries such as Japan and the United States are also on the following destinations, Kim said. Backpackr will have to compete with other handmade goods markets in Asia, such as Japan’s Minne and Creema, Taiwan’s Pinkoi and Singapore-based Carousell. It is estimated that the Asian handicraft market will reach US$307.8 billion in 2027 , up from $149 billion in 2021.

The company not only uses idus as its main business, but also runs a crowdfunding campaign called Tumblbug platform, which was acquired in 2020. Backpackr also launched Steadio, a Patreon-like subscription service for creators, to connect
artists with their fans
, Kim said. Kim pointed to Backpackr’s model of being a one-stop shop for its creators as a key differentiator for the company.

“We want to make it a one-stop platform for creators, allowing our users (Creators) help them by opening their own internet boutique selling their handicrafts including crafts and anything homemade such as bakeries, soaps, candles, jewelry, perfumes, bags, furniture, home decor and art Crowdfunding their products and connecting creators with fans to offer online or offline courses,” Kim told TechCrunch.

As of last November, Backpackr had around 60,000 creators with over $804 million in revenue Gross merchandise sales in the dollar rose in November and broke breakeven in the second half of last year, but remain in the red for fiscal 2022. The company expects to be profitable this year, Kim said.



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