Check out how this husband-and-wife duo make their 3-year old startup work
They just raised $1million in funding.
Living out of a suitcase for three years years has been the norm for husband-and-wife duo Xin Lung Tai and Rebecca Chia, since they founded a global peer-to-peer shopping service ShopandBox in 2013. They were literally in a different country each month, be it spending time with their team in different countries, seeking out opportunities around the globe, or meeting up with shoppers and ‘Boxers’ from different cities. With only $40,000 funding from their own pockets, they didn’t have a physical office. They have a remote team based in four different countries and over 200 WhatsApp chat groups with their Boxers at the same time.
After starting their service while living in Melbourne and travelling to Singapore and Malaysia where the couple bootstrapped, they saw a huge spike and traction in shoppers coming on board their platform. They then raised their seed round and raised S$1 million in funding. This round was led by seed stage venture capital firm, 500 Startups, together with a group of angel investors.
ShopandBox is a platform that allows you to shop like a local for anything you want, from anywhere in the world with the help of a personal shopper, known as a ‘Boxer.’ ShopandBox is designed to empower shoppers to buy items that are either not available in their country or cheaper overseas.
Xin shared that ShopandBox started after they noticed that whenever they travelled overseas, friends would ask them to buy things that they couldn’t get back home in Australia. It seemed obvious to them that there was a gap in the market and they have gone a long way to fill it.
“We have created a thriving global platform that enables shoppers to purchase anything they want from around the world fuss-free without being subjected to exorbitant pricing and unreliable or unaffordable international shipping fees,” he said.
Xin said that at ShopandBox, they put the power back in the hands of shoppers who determine where they want to shop and at what price. Boxers do not mark up the cost of items and simply collect a small service fee as compensation for their time and effort.
“What sets us apart from the myriad of freight forwarding services is the very real connection between Shoppers and Boxers. We carefully match Shoppers with Boxers that share their interests so they get a completely personalised and specialised service. Half of our Shoppers come back for more and are constantly building bonds with their Boxers whom they totally trust to find them what they want,” he said.
How does it work?
Unlike existing e-commerce sites and freight forwarding services, ShopandBox delivers a completely personalised service from start to finish. In addition to buying your desired items, Boxers can recommend additional or alternative items, look for the best prices, give Shoppers access to local deals, help them shop and get past payment issues, all before checking and repackaging their items to save them money on international shipping rates.
With an exclusive partnership with DHL Express, ShopandBox offers door-to-door service in 1-3 days with lower rates than any other shipping method.
According to Xin, the cornerstone of the ShopandBox business model is its passionate Boxers who are situated in over 25 countries. “Many Boxers are part-time, casual workers who are earning some extra income. Many of the Boxers are stay-at-home mums, retired personnel and students. While Boxers come from all walks of life, they share a common love of shopping, they know what’s trending and where to bag a bargain,” he said.
Moving forward, the couple plans to expand their shopper market into countries where they have seen organic growth such as the Middle East, Brunei, Africa, and others. They also plan to launch an app within the year and to raise their Series A funding.
Xin, 31, serves as the CEO. He drives the company’s vision and strategy of providing a service where you can shop across the globe without any barriers. When asked whether he has any kids, he always answers by saying ‘Two kids, ‘Shop’ and ‘Box’. Xin left his career in management consulting that had taken him across US, Australia and Asia and decided to create a business which solved the pain of not being able to shop for anything, whenever he wanted, at the price he wanted to pay. His dream is becoming a reality as ShopandBox has since expanded to serve Shoppers from more than 146 countries that want to shop from the 25 countries where ShopandBox has a Boxer presence.
Rebecca, 30, leads the marketing and outreach efforts at ShopandBox. She met Xin while obtaining her degrees in Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Applied Commerce at the University of Melbourne. Rebecca sees ShopandBox as allowing people the opportunity to fabricate their own unique worlds with beautiful products, limited edition items and special finds from across the globe. She envisions ShopandBox as being the go-to platform for anyone, whether they live in Timbuktu or Antarctica, who wants to shop for anything. She loves the idea that you can now have ‘Shopping Pals’ all over the world.