Over the past five years, we have played a key role in driving the growth of our staff and our customers, and in return, they have helped us grow drastically as a company.
Once in a while, it’s important to take a step back and look at what we have achieved so far, especially on a day that marks our 5th year as a company.
The growth journey
It all started in April 2016, with two founders working out of a 10sqm office in Singapore. At that time, I have to admit that we were ambitious, but we also knew we had to scale rapidly to gain as much market share as possible in a growing industry in digital marketing and influencer marketing. By the end of that year, we had already grown to 65 members across five markets, including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan.
In the next year, we experienced even further growth with the expansion of our headcount to over 250 members as we opened an additional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, and moved into four other markets: Cambodia, Mainland China, Japan and Hong Kong. In 2017, we launched our platform for publishers and made our first acquisition: FourM, in Japan. To round up such a great year, 2017 was also the year that we closed our Series A funding at US$14.5 million.
At the start of 2018, we made a big decision and reorganized and expanded into AnyMind Group from AdAsia Holdings, this was an important decision because it opened up the opportunity for us to expand outside of the advertising and marketing industry. In the same year, we made our second acquisition: Acqua Media in Hong Kong. Apart from expanding into Malaysia and the Philippines, we grew our headcount to 360 members by the end of 2018. We also embarked on the very first round of our Series B funding, increasing our total funding to US$27.9 million.
We carried this momentum into 2019 with the acquisition of Moindy, a Thai influencer network, and launched our own influencer network across Asia. Our total funding also increased to US$35.9 million in the first quarter of 2019. 2019 was the year we further established our market share across the 11 markets we were in and started to plan our move into the direct-to-consumer (D2C) enablement space. By the end of the year, we almost doubled our headcount to more than 650 members.
2020 was such an unforgettable year for everyone. We started the year strongly by increasing our total funding to US$63.4 million and made two acquisitions – GROVE, an influencer network in Japan, and POKKT, a mobile advertising platform – further expanding our presence into India and the Middle East. We also made an investment into LÝFT, a D2C brand in Japan.
Working on post-merger integration during a global pandemic is something that I will never forget, but I am proud to have two invaluable additions to our Board of Directors – Rohit and Vaibahv. Together with Oto, Keizo and I, we have established clear areas of responsibilities and are always communicating openly and transparently. In addition, we have built up a strong and diverse global management team, consisting of the Board, global business leads and country managers, which also includes founders of companies that have been merged. With this team, I am confident that the company is well-positioned for future growth.
Navigating unchartered territory – COVID-19 When the pandemic affected the world, like every other business, we were also affected. This was the first time since we started the business that we faced such a big global challenge and one that had an effect on many of our customers too.
All of us were determined to help our customers, including influencers, marketers and publishers, rebound as quickly as possible, and in turn, looked to rebound the business quickly.
I am very proud of what all of us have done at AnyMind Group. During this period, there were new challenges that arose, including movement restrictions from lockdowns and social distancing, staying connected with a remote workforce, and finding new ways we can add value to our customers.
We didn’t give up. We dug deep and helped our customers navigate out of their own difficulties by bringing more value for all of them. We dug deep and increased our own productivity across all levels of the company, ensuring we delivered on this value amidst a period of global uncertainty. I am grateful that this experience made us all stronger as individuals and as a company.
During this period, local management, including local department heads, also stepped up, and I’m very thankful for all their hard work in adapting to the situation and growing more. Working with the local and global management teams, we managed to rebound within a couple of months of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic.
In fact, we continued to grow after the initial months and today, we have more than 800 members across 17 offices in 13 markets, with customers from all major business verticals.
In the midst of the pandemic, all of us continued to challenge ourselves to adapt to the new environment. All of us continued to challenge ourselves to push our limits. All of us continued to challenge ourselves to stay true to our mission of making every business borderless. This resulted in amazing growth. I would say that the hard work from all levels of the company is the reason why we saw more than US$100 million in revenue for 2020 with a year-on-year growth rate of over 60%.
The core of this growth Changes around the world caused by COVID-19 accelerated the need for businesses to go digital and go directly to customers, and in 2020, we launched our D2C enablement offerings with platforms for cloud manufacturing, e-commerce and logistics.
Today, we are working with close to 40 influencers across Asia in creating and launching their own brands (with many more to come) and provided businesses with the infrastructure to go directly to their customers through our platforms. Although our D2C offerings were established in the past year, they have already made an impact on our customers and our business, and I’m confident that we can grow in this space even more in the future.
We can also be proud of what we have accomplished for our marketing and publisher business units, providing ever-growing value to our customers.
We have built one of the largest (if not the largest) influencer marketing ecosystems in the region, providing a platform for hundreds of thousands of marketers and influencers to collaborate and get in-depth insights for influencer marketing campaigns and social media analytics.
We have also introduced the most comprehensive monetization platform for publishers in the region, providing not just ad monetization but also offerings to build up D2C capabilities and social media monetization.
Last but not least, in digital marketing, we have built up a comprehensive offering for web, mobile app and DOOH channels, providing marketers around Asia with direct access to premium local inventory from online and app publishers and digital signage providers.
Our full offerings, from manufacturing and e-commerce to marketing and logistics, look to introduce new value and unlock more opportunities for forward-thinking influencers, marketers, publishers and business owners, enabling them to become borderless.
Looking ahead There are some exciting movements planned for 2021 and we will continue to find even more ways to unlock more value and opportunities for our customers, from growing our software and platforms to providing the resources and expertise to get the most value out of our offerings.
Ultimately, we are looking to provide the infrastructure for next-generation businesses around the world to make them borderless.
Judging from our first five years of operations, our journey is far from over as there are so many other ways that we can help our customers, staff and stakeholders grow. Watch this space, and let’s grow together!
Kosuke Sogo, CEO and co-founder of AnyMind Group