SweetEscape, the AI-driven photography platform, announced today that it raised US$6 million in Series A round funding, co-led by Openspace Ventures and Jungle Ventures with participation from Burda Principal Investments and existing investors. The fresh round of financing will be used to develop its AI technology and to strengthen their presence across Asia. Headquartered in Jakarta, the Company currently has over 100 employees across Jakarta, Singapore and Manila and the Company plans to double the team size by the end of 2019.
SweetEscape was founded in 2017 by David Soong and Emile Etienne, who were also the founders of Bridestory, Southeast Asia’s largest wedding marketplace platform, which was recently acquired by Tokopedia. The founders’ vision is to build a global photography platform that will bring accessibility and change the way consumers appreciate memories and photographers globally manage their business. SweetEscape has managed to scale to over 500+ cities across 100+ countries globally with thousands of photographers in their network within the past two years.
David Soong, CEO and Founder of SweetEscape. said: “Our ultimate mission is to empower the photographers’ community while providing consumers with affordable access to quality photos anywhere around the world. I have been a photographer for the past 20 years. 70% of a photographer’s time is spent not taking photos. Our platform makes their life’s easier – with us handling 80% of the photographer’s workflow and post-production – increasing photographers’ productivity and income and allowing them to pursue their passion. To do this, our goal is to leverage AI image processing technology to accelerate and automate the post-production process”. The Company is focused on being the first AI imaging technology in the region to lead the innovation and the transformation in this US$80 billion photography industry.
The business was first established to solve a very simple problem, which is to allow consumers to discover local photographers while traveling and to ensure the memories are captured by locally curated professional photographers. Today, SweetEscape has serviced thousands of customers across hundreds of countries and the bookings have more than quadrupled since launching in 2017.
Emile Etienne, COO and Founder of SweetEscape, said “We started SweetEscape to address a problem in the Travel photography segment but as we continue to scale, we started to observe a broader usage of our platform beyond travel. The growth in non-travel (birthdays, baby showers, graduations, family photoshoots and others) have consistently exceeded our expectations. With this new funding and the support of the investors, we will focus on strengthening our foothold in Asia while building our presence in new markets around the world”.
Hian Goh, Partner at Openspace Ventures, added “Sweet Escape is addressing a huge consumer shift in behavior towards the experience economy and we look forward to fully supporting the SweetEscape team in creating a deeper technology platform to extend their value globally.”
Amit Anand, Managing Partner at Jungle Ventures said, “Given our multiple successful investments in the travel space and also software enablement of freelancers – we could clearly see the immense growth opportunity ahead to solve the gaps for consumers seeking experiences, and photographers seeking efficiency globally. The founders’ backgrounds makes them perfect to build this business and we are excited to be part of the journey.”
SweetEscape has also started moving into the business photography segment, providing food photography, real-estate photography, headshots and more – servicing a growing portfolio of regional and global clients that includes WeWork, P&G and HSBC. The Company aims to provide a very seamless experience for local business owners to create quality visual content for their businesses and allowing them to scale more efficiently through better imaging.
SweetEscape is at the forefront of the increasingly dynamic travel and photography industry. With a tap of a finger, customers can book a photo session in less than a minute, edited photos can then be downloaded through the app within 48 hours.
SweetEscape is an AI-driven photography platform that offers photoshoots for any occasion in over 500 cities in 100 countries globally for both consumer and businesses. With thousands of photographers under our network, we empower the photographer community by providing an end-to-end infrastructure including post production for the photographers to pursue their passion while addressing the rising demand for quality visual content to consumers and businesses.
Openspace Ventures focuses on Series A and B investments in technology companies based in Southeast Asia. Key areas of investment for Openspace Ventures include fintech, healthtech, edutech, consumer applications and cloud-based solutions. Openspace Ventures is currently investing its second fund and has approximately US$225 million in total committed capital. Openspace has invested in 25 companies, including Go-Jek; Halodoc; Love, Bonito; Topica; CXA, FinAccel, and Pathao.
Jungle Ventures is a Singapore based Venture Capital Firm that invests in and helps build tech category leaders from Asia. At Jungle Ventures, we strive to be the first to champion teams that have the ambition of building long-lasting, impactful companies. Our network and partnerships has empowered many bold entrepreneurs, with the help of technology, to transform humanity for the better. Jungle has a dedicated team of operating partners and functional experts to enable companies scale across growth markets in Emerging Asia.
Burda Principal Investments is part of Hubert Burda Media, which is headquartered in Munich. Burda has been a pioneer in adopting digital technology and is a trusted partner for the long-term success of digital business. With DLD (Digital, Life, Design) Hubert Burda Media has established a global network on innovation, digitization, science and culture with conferences around the world. Burda Principal Investments is the company’s unit to provide growth capital to digital ventures in the Unites States, Europe, and Asia.