Chinese mobile and web application development firm Imaginato is expanding into Southeast Asia, setting up an office in Singapore.
The Singapore office will be directly overseen by the founder and CEO Sean Liao, who was previously managing director for Rocket Internet China, where he led platform launches for dozens of fast-scaling ventures including Southeast Asian ecommerce platforms Lazada and Zalora.
“What we (Rocket Internet) did in 2012 really sparked an entire region’s transformation,” Liao said. “There was such immense pressure to scale Lazada and Zalora at ‘rocket-speed,’ even though most SEA countries weren’t ready for it at all.”
Eight years on, Liao believes that “old-fashioned mega-companies that once had monopolies or duopolies are facing massive challenges on every front”.
“And the concerning thing is, they’re not just late to this digital game, they’re playing it using old playbooks and not doing so well,” he said. “This is where we can help.”
Liao founded Imaginato in China in 2012, offering platform development and managed services for businesses looking for help with digital transformation.
He co-founded Indonesian food app Qraved in 2013 with Steven Kim and Adrian Li, using Imaginato’s services as the “technology backbone”. Qraved has raised over US$12 million in funding to date.
Imaginato has also done work for Indonesian coworking operator Gowork and movie ticketing app Tix.id, which Liao believes gives it a strong foothold in Southeast Asia.
Bellhop is hoping to draw revenue from commission on transactions from service providers.
This article first appeared in campaign