WhatsApp has long since transcended its roots as a simple messaging app for friends to become a key communication tool for businesses looking for a direct channel to their customers’ pockets – both literally and figuratively. Countless companies have turned to the ubiquitous messaging app while building the foundation of their business, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by WhatsApp’s parent company.
In fact, Meta Platforms Inc. – the company’s mega-brand behind Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp – recently invested in Take App, a young Singaporean startup founded by former Facebook engineering executive Youmin Kim, who founded the social network last year Jahr left to work on a new product that promises to bridge the digital divide for small business owners in Southeast Asia.
At its core, the Take App serves as an easy way for those with little technical know-how to set up a simple website to facilitate online orders, with a shopping cart, payments, and a direct connection to WhatsApp to manage and track final orders.
Take the app: whatsapp order
While restaurants are the focus of the Take app service, the company also works with bakeries, grocery stores, and beauty salons, among others.
“Our unique selling proposition is that we enable merchants to have direct WhatsApp conversations with customers,” Kim told TechCrunch. “Merchants love the idea of receiving notifications and order details directly in WhatsApp – no additional app or login required.”
In addition, Take App aims to help businesses drive repeat customers by maintaining a database with support for creating and sending newsletters (like “Mailchimp for WhatsApp”) that include special offers or relevant company updates.
Take App: Newsletter
While the core Take App service is free, the company also offers a number of premium features, including advanced analytics, unlimited image uploads, and custom domain names.
The story so far
Kim first started Take App as a non-profit organization to help small restaurants in Singapore take online orders at the beginning of the pandemic, but he soon realized there was a huge opportunity to turn it into a commercial venture. Today, the company claims 1,000 businesses have used Take App from 35 different markets, although the vast majority are based in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Take App also recently closed Y Combinator (YC) as part of the accelerator’s Winter 22 batch, prompting YC to invest in the company in a $1 million round alongside Meta and an undisclosed list of angels – this seed funding round quietly closed in June.
Take App follows in the footsteps of other similar startups, like Germany-based Charles, which recently raised $20 million to bring conversational commerce — and newsletters — to WhatsApp in Europe. It’s impossible to ignore the parallels here, but Kim claims that Take App was built specifically for a very specific type of business in a very specific part of the world – simplicity is the name of the game.
“In Southeast Asia, WhatsApp is the most common way to talk to businesses, but it has high operational costs because employees have to respond to a series of conversations,” Kim told TechCrunch. “There are ‘Western’ CRM solutions that do this more efficiently, but they are too expensive or too difficult for our dealers. We focus on traditional companies with a digital gap.”