According to the ‘Video Live Streaming Solutions Market Global Industry Forecast 2018 – 2026 Report’, the Live streaming market in China is currently the largest in the world, racking up USD4.4 billion of sales in 2018. Taiwan-based M17 Group Founder & CEO Joseph Phua shares his latest venture into this space with HandsUP, which promises to move plenty of stock for live-streaming sellers.
Similar to home shopping channels in the US, live-streaming gives consumers the opportunity to engage with merchants about their products, live, and is proving to be a lucrative channel for customer conversion.
Riding the crest of this new wave of online retail is Founder and CEO of M17 Group Joseph Phua, whom recently launched a new platform, HandsUP in Asia.
Phua says HandsUp is a B2B live and social commerce SaaS platform that harnesses live content and interactivity to create an all-in-one platform which aggregates comments from various social media platforms to complete orders.
According to Phua, HandsUp simplifies the process of social discovery and live selling for sellers while improving the shopping experience for the buyers. He claims that Asia should move away from the Western model of operating e-commerce and live-streaming as separate entities and integrate live-streaming, e-commerce and social communities to unlock the market potential of live and social commerce.
Phua claims M17 Group grew to become the biggest live technology and entertainment content player in developed Asia within two years. It has offices in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the U.S., and employs close to 600 people worldwide. With plans to expand its footprint from an existing user base of 40 million and 15,000 content creators and influencers, Phua says he is keen to pave the way for the next generation of live and social commerce.
“The core technology, mechanisms and product innovations in HandsUP are the creations of Migo, which M17 acquired in Q3 2018. [Migo shared] our mission to enable global connections through live technology and entertainment. We knew quickly that our combination would result in amazing results, as can be seen through the HandsUP product. We look forward to shaking up the live and social commerce landscape in Asia. In addition, we also hope to provide well-rounded development for our live talents and influencers. Ultimately, we want to empower all aspiring entrepreneurial individuals to realize their dreams, with M17’s suite of live technology and entertainment products,” says Phua.
HandsUp integrates live streaming, social communities and e-commerce with influencers, online personalities and opinion leaders, to unlock the market potential of live and social commerce. Phua says M17 invested eight months in research and development to refine its technical capabilities and optimize product user experience before the official launch.
“HandsUp aggregates +1 comments from various social media platforms to complete orders. With just one click, sellers can sell live through multiple social platforms, facilitate order-taking across social platforms in real time and automate transactions based on comments captured. Live stream content is a perishable item, so the ability to stream and sell simultaneously across multiple social platforms greatly increases the efficiency of time spent for sellers. In addition, the product eliminates intensive man-hours spent compiling orders manually, and minimizes errors, which greatly simplifies the shopping flow. For buyers, all it takes is a +1 in the comments to place an order for their desired item,” says Phua.
An avid entrepreneur in the social technology space, Phua graduated with a B.Sc. in Finance from New York University Stern School of Business and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Prior to founding Paktor Group in 2013, Phua worked with McKinsey and Citigroup, and spent a few years in luxury retail while based in Shanghai.
Paktor Group is a popular dating app in Asia providing a comprehensive suite of products across the dating vertical. Focused on the mission of connecting singles in Asia through technology-enabled platforms, the dating app has expanded beyond Singapore to the rest of Southeast Asia and North Asia. Paktor claims to have 22 million users worldwide.
Following the success of Paktor, Phua launched GaiGai in 2015, an offline dating service that matches singles via technology and hosts dating events. This service has since set up offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia to serve around 500,000 singles in the region.
In 2017, Phua says he acquired a controlling stake in Taiwan live streaming company 17 Media to form M17 Entertainment Group; stepping into the role as Group CEO. Since then, Phua says M17 is on target to achieve some impressive growth:
“M17 has achieved significant growth across all business units and has turned profitable company wide, with 70% YoY growth. The company is on track to achieve two milestones: Projected annual revenues of USD 323 million, and projected annual live and social commerce GMV of USD 323 million,” says Phua.
(Image of Joseph Phua courtesy of M17 Group.)