While I was travelling in Nepal with Ethan and friends in 2013, we were discouraged that there was little travel booking service. While we had spent a lot of time doing the research and planning the trip, looking for good suppliers, there is no magic button to simplify all the transections, instead of carrying thousands of dollars in cash. After that we came out a thought: why not develop a time-saving and hassle-free travel booking platform, which enables travelers to book and pay for activities in advance? With a courage of dare to challenge, I quit my so-called ‘well paid’ job of being an analyst, sold my property and started Klook with Ethan, chasing our entrepreneurial dream.
From hundreds of LinkedIn profile, we found our best software engineer Bernie, to be our co-founder, focusing on technology development. Ethan is CEO, I am in-charge of operations. With 2 other staffs, Klook is founded at a tiny office at Sheung Wan. At first, we negotiated with our partners on a product-by-product basis. Challenges are inevitable. Some large attraction operators are not enthusiastic about us, we focus on small-scale yet distinguished travel experience activities. We even sent flyers in Central under hot and humid weather. With endless sweaty T-shirts and persistence, we successfully signed the first contract.
It was a cake shop that first worked with us, offering rest hours to teach travelers making desserts. Then we continue to develop and expand our product variety. Now Klook’s products do not limit to experience activities, but also expand to theme park tickets, rail tickets, Wi-Fi eggs, offering more than 100,000 travel activities and services. Number of destinations have also increased from the first three, at present more than 300, with an increase of 100 times. It is impressive.
In 2015, Klook launched the mobile app, which became a popular download app in the travel category, and in the following two years, our mobile app was consecutively awarded by Apple App Store and Google Play. This set a milestone for the innovation breakthrough in travel industry. 75% of the existing orders come from mobile app users. Through Klook’s website, travelers can arrange a variety of travel services, including attraction tickets, day tours, local transportations, best foods and unique experience.
We now have a team of over 1,000 across over 20 offices worldwide. This year we raised US$200 million led by Softbank Investment Advisers, in total Klook has already raised over US$520 million from investors, including Goldman Sachs, Matrix Partners and Sequoia Capital China. Asia is still our largest market, with nearly 35% of mobile app users are from the Greater China. We are very optimistic to the markets. In particular, with tremendous efforts of our Hong Kong team, we added lots of best-food experience activities, for example, joining LKF Beer Festival, signing partnership with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts to provide digital concierge services to guests in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. For sure we will passionately contribute to more local best-food experiences to our users.
This is not our final destination. As the world leading travel activities and services booking platform, we decide to double our Europe’s team size by the end of 2019, with existing offices in Amsterdam, Barcelona and London. Klook offers a great range of services such as car rental, airport transfers that appeal to a broader group of users. We continue to build a travel ecosystem, from booking a car to the airport, transfer, rail, food, attractions, tours and activities, as a whole. I predict that Klook will further enhance range of activities, such as concerts, blurring the line between travel and leisure. ‘ It’s not strictly about travel, but about leisure and creating memories.’