RHL Ventures invests in Malaysia’s interior design marketplace Atap.co

Malaysia-based private investment firm RHL has announced that it has agreed to invest an undisclosed sum in Atap.co, an online marketplace for interior designer sourcing and hiring.

Atap.co will use the money to solidify its market presence in Malaysia. With assistance from RHL, the company plans to launch a physical experience centre in Petaling Jaya to raise the level of immersion for prospective interior customers.

Atap.co was founded in 2015 by Shen Maosheng Seng and Seow Yao Han, both are tech entrepreneurs who have earlier created the automotive review website Live Life Drive (acquired by iCar Asia in 2013). It is a platform for interior designer sourcing and hiring in Malaysia, as well as a digital publisher for interior design and home and living content. It was created with an aim to help consolidate the fragmented interior designer and architect market in Malaysia via a proprietary online platform that links them to customers (home- and office-owners).

With a team of 16 people, the company claims that 1,580 interior designers have been utilising the Atap.co platform, with project and photo listings numbered at 2,481 and 26,911, respectively.

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Over the past two years, Atap.co – via its Leads Marketplace – has listed nearly 3,000 renovation jobs which have carried a budget value of MYR415 million. During this period, the website has drawn in 480,000 average monthly site visitors.

“In today's market, those in need of interior design work would typically look to the internet only to find that their search lists are dominated by large and expensive firms that can afford to maintain an online presence,” said Seng, Co-founder of Atap.co. “We therefore created Atap.co to match up-and-coming interior design businesses in Malaysia with prospective clients leads, which our in-house technologies help verify to ensure that the leads are genuine and not automated.”

Since 2014, it is estimated that the building sector in Malaysia has experienced an 8.7 per cent growth, with 70 per cent of projects being carried out by the private sector. This has helped to foster the tremendous growth of interior design and decorators in the naLon, however the sector's potential has not been fully realised as many designers – especially those in the B2C segment – still rely on word-of-mouth to land projects.

“We decided to back Atap.co as they are helping to bring in much-need innovation in Malaysia's interior design market,” said Rachel Lau, Managing Partner of RHL Ventures. “Maosheng, Yao Han and their team are helping to highlight the breadth of talent possessed by our homegrown designers — which we consider as having the potential to stand toe-to-toe with their international peers.”

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