Oneflare eyes UK expansion after AU$1m funding round

Australian online marketplace startup Oneflare has set its sights on the UK market after securing AU$1 million in its second round of funding, bringing its total investment capital to AU$1.5 million.

Australian online services marketplace startup Oneflare has secured AU$1 million in second-round funding, bringing its total investment tally to AU$1.5 million.

The new round of funding from Equity Venture Partners' Les Szekely, the Sydney Seed Fund's Garry Visontay, and Dr Jeffrey Tobias of The Strategy Group adds to the AU$500,000 the company received in its first round mid last year — also from the same trio of investors.

While most of the new cash will be pumped into the company's sales and marketing teams and operations, it has also provided its co-founders Marcus Lim and Adam Dong with the prospect of expanding overseas.

Lim, who is also the company's CEO, told ZDNet that the United Kingdom will likely be the first international market into which the company would expand.

"We're exploring international opportunities, we've identified the UK as a place for an international expansion possibility in the next 12 months," he said. "We'd start with a soft launch, and we would follow with a hard launch."

Lim said that he is looking to the UK as a first step overseas because it represents a higher potential for return on investment compared to a number of other markets such as the United States, which is saturated with similar services, and New Zealand, which has a much smaller potential customer base to leverage.

The company, which was founded in 2011 and bootstrapped its way to scalability until receiving its initial round of funding last year, operates an online marketplace for hiring local service professionals.

It currently claims a community of around 50,000 Australian businesses in over 200 business categories, and sees about 500,000 visitors per month.

Until now, much of its investment has gone into the development team, including its technicians and programmers. But that is all set to change, as the company's new funding will allow it to substantially pad out its sales and marketing personnel.

"Previously, we'd always been very tech focused," said Lim. "We had the engineers and the tech side of things, but we didn't have the marketing side of things.

"We expect to further expand our team over coming months. We're seeing very pleasing growth in job volumes every week, and we'll be adding to our sales, marketing, and customer service capabilities in line with this growing demand," he said.

Oneflare's international expansion prospects come just months after local online odd-jobs outsourcing marketplace Airtasker said it is considering expanding into the US .

Airtasker CEO Tim Fung told ZDNet at the time that expanding overseas, particularly in New York, had been in the works for a while.

"The reason why we thought that market was so strong was because it's got great urban density, and it all comes down to the liquidity, broken down by location," he said.

Meanwhile, Oneflare's latest round of funding comes as cafe industry job website gets snapped up by Melbourne-based cafe search app developer startup Beanhunter.

Although the value of the acquisition has not been disclosed, Beanhunter chief James Crawford said the acquisition was one of the building blocks leading into an upcoming funding round, and is a good strategic match for the company.

"We see this as a marriage made in heaven," Crawford said. "Beanhunter's 12,000 cafes will now have direct access to to help find their most valuable asset: Their staff, and in particular the best baristas. With over 1.2 million page views per month and annualised growth of 100 percent, the combined business is poised for even faster acceleration."