AdAsia, an ambitious one-year-old ad tech startup, raises $12M for expansion

AdAsia, a one-year-old online advertising startup based in Singapore, has closed a $12 million Series A round from Japanese investor JAFCO.

The company was founded in April 2016 by CEO Kosuke Sogo, the former managing director of Japan’s MicroAd in APAC, and COO Otohiko Kozutsumi, who had been with MicroAd Vietnam. It offers a single digital platform that integrates elements such as real-time buying, social targeting, and large exchanges like Adwords, DoubleClick and Facebook. It also offers solutions for video and mobile, and runs an influencer marketing program.

Despite just a year of operations, Sogo told TechCrunch that AdAsia is already profitable. He said the company grossed $12 million in sales between April and December 2016, growing at 20-30 percent each month. This year, it is targeting $30 million in annual revenue, and it currently serves 300 clients.

AdAsia is headquartered in Singapore with offices in Taiwan, Cambodia, Vietnam (two), Indonesia, and Thailand. The company plans to use this new funding to expand into China (Shanghai), Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan this year. It currently has a total headcount of around 80 staff, which Sogo, who turns 30 this year, said is forecast to grow to 400 before the end of next year.

On the tech side, the Series A will be used to develop AdAsia’s machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities within current and future ad products by establishing a development center in Vietnam.

 “We want to gain a big market share in our bid to become the biggest advertising technology company in Asia, and this funding will only strengthen our push,” Sogo said in a statement.

While growing market share in Southeast Asia, where the concept of digital ad spend is still in its infancy, is one thing, trying to take a bite out of China, a more saturated market, is an altogether harder challenge. Sogo readily accepted that market domination in China is unlikely but he believes his company can “can get some marketshare [and] generate revenue” by integrating with big players like Tencent.

The ambitious company is already weighing up potential exit options, too. Sogo suggested that Hong Kong or his native Japan could be ideal markets for an IPO in 2019, or perhaps even as soon as next year. He didn’t rule out the possibility of going public in the U.S., but told TechCrunch that the firm would “have to think about it.”