We came across an interesting opportunity recently with the launch of HandsUp by M17 Group, which also includes dating giant Paktor and GaiGai.

CEO Joseph Phua has been on the offensive after their recent IPO woes, but seems to have aggressively brought the company back on track. According to them, they are on track to generate over US$300 million in revenue this year. An impressive comeback in the last few months.

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We spoke to him to find out more about their renewed focus in Southeast Asia and what his plans were for the Group. Here’s what Joseph had to share.

Congratulations for the launch of HandsUp. What made you step into the social commerce space with this new product?

We are always keeping an eye on the latest developments or innovation in the tech space, especially those with an element of live streaming or social entertainment.

There is unprecedented growth in the e-commerce market and Southeast Asia’s internet economy alone is expected to exceed $200 billion in 2025. HandsUP has the immense potential to revolutionise the shopping experience – by simplifying it.

By leveraging the company’s proven live stream technology, the service aims to simplify the process of social discovery and live-selling for the seller as well as the social / live shopping experience for the buyers. The power now lies in the hands of social communities.

How has the response been so far since the launch a couple of weeks ago?

So far, it’s been nothing short of amazing! We have had over 1,000 sellers come on board. I look forward to providing seamless selling and shopping experience to all sellers and buyers.

How large is your user base in the region? Which markets are leading growth in Southeast Asia?

Globally, M17 Group has >60 million users across its suite of products.

Do you see potential for live streaming and social commerce in Southeast Asia? How large do you see the industry growing in this region?

Yes we do! This is precisely why we are marrying the two sectors of live streaming and social commerce with HandsUp as our flagship product. HandsUp artfully integrates live streaming, social communities and e-commerce, as well as the star power of influencers, online personalities and opinion leaders, to unlock the immense market potential of live and social commerce.

HandsUp interface

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. Sellers are also given access to social communities, which they can leverage to improve sale discovery and conversion.

For buyers, it is super fuss-free. All it takes is a “+1” in the comments to place an order for their desired item.

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Apart from your live streaming services and products, have you continued to see growth for Paktor in the region?

Paktor has ~22 million users worldwide currently and all markets are demonstrating strong, sustainable growth, especially in Korea and Taiwan. Our dating products have made significant strides since their launches in 2013 and 2014, backed by innovative technology and a data-driven approach which is rooted in our company DNA. Paktor aims to streamline all our key dating services to provide the only true online/offline dating service in the world.

There are strong revenue projections for M17 in 2019, where is the revenue coming from in terms of your services and the markets you cover?

The projections relates to M17’s entertainment unit, including live streaming, dating, and advertising, which generate income through subscriptions, sponsorship deals, and virtual gifting. We continue to experience strong year-on-year growth.

What advice do you have for the next generation of entrepreneurs in the region?

The first thing is knowing and believing that you’re not the smartest person in the room, and that forces you to build a team of very smart people. When you can build a team of very smart people, you end up doing well for yourself.

The second advice is to realize opportunities. When luck falls on your lap, you quickly take it and not question yourself. Listen to your gut and instincts. If you make a mistake, move on quickly, and learn from it.