Ten years ago, Donghwan Kim assisted his ceramist cousin in the search for sales outlets, like flea markets. Finding it difficult to locate a suitable platform, he decided to create one himself – Backpackr Marketplace – for handmade products in South Korea.
Backpackr, operator of handmade marketplace idus, has raised a $16M extension to its Series C financing two-and-a-half years after the initial $24M round.
Backpackr has raised a total of $56.8 million since its 2012 launch, with Altos Ventures leading the latest round and new investors Axiom Asia and Vanderbilt University joining in. Sources estimate Backpackr’s post-money valuation at around $240.1 million.
Backpackr is set to make its Southeast Asian debut in Q2 this year, with plans to become the ‘Etsy of Asia’, as Kim stated in an interview with TechGround. The new capital will be used to invest in R&D for AI-powered search/recommendation systems and hire more employees.
Backpackr aims to bring South Korean products overseas and Southeast Asian handmade goods to Korea, with Japan and the U.S. also on its radar. The startup will face competition from Asia’s other handmade marketplaces like Minne (Japan), Pinkoi (Taiwan) and Carousell (Singapore). By 2027, Asia’s handmade product market is predicted to reach $307.8 billion – up from $149 billion in 2021.
Backpackr has expanded beyond its original idus business, launching Tumblbug crowdfunding and Steadio creator subscription services. Kim highlighted the company’s focus on creating a one-stop-shop platform for creators as the key differentiator.
Kim told TechGround that our platform is a one-stop shop for creators, allowing them to open their own online stores and sell handmade items such as baked goods, soaps, candles, jewelry pieces and other accessories. We also provide crowdfunding options for the products and connect creators with fans who can take part in both online or offline classes.
Backpackr, boasting 60K creators in Nov. 2020, reported a Gross Merchandise Volume of $804M and became profitable in H2 of the year despite ending FY2022 loss-making. Kim anticipates generating profits this year.