Gfresh, an online seafood marketplace and logistics service provider, has closed its Series A round of venture funding with approx. $20 million from Riverhill Fund, an Alibaba affiliated venture firm. Legend Capital also participated in this round.
As a part of this funding deal, Gfresh has revealed that Alibaba co-founder Simon Xie Shihuang is joining the company’s board of directors. Legend Capital has also revived a board seat. It is also said that the deal was closed in August.
The company is intending to use the newly raised funding for hiring new talent, expanding its business geographically, and to launch a new “reverse auction” feature within its marketplace.
Gfresh is planning to make its services and app available outside of Asia, and to expand it to address other industries with highly perishable, hard-to-ship inventory, like fresh, if not living, fish and fruit.
While the seafood consumption is increasing in China, it is a challenging task to buy, sell and transport seafood across borders within and beyond China. Hence, Gfresh aims to help industry players buy, sell and transport live seafood as efficiently as possible throughout and beyond China.
Around two years ago, the startup spun out of Regs Group, a furniture shipping and logistics business. Now, the company claims to have already processed more than $200 million worth of wholesale live seafood orders.
To list offering on the platform, Gfresh asks users to list their inventory, with notes about origin, species and quality of their catch, and set a list price. The suppliers see aggregate pricing and demand data which guide them in establishing a price. When a buyer procures live seafood through the platform, the company takes their payment into an escrow, or GPay.
Besides marketplace, the company also provides logistics service. Gfresh batches boxes together, and exports them in a shared container. It also handles all the appropriate customs and health-related paperwork in disparate markets. Then, the company picks up the live seafood imports at a given port or airport in a refrigerated truck.
Gfresh is focused on becoming the Amazon of seafood sales, and hopes to expand to other species and become the primary online seafood market place. Anthony Wan, general manager of Gfresh said:
In the online world, you have to be number one, there really isn’t a second player. By the end of next year we want to be the global marketplace for seafood. Right now we’re pretty much there for certain product categories…but there’s hundreds of seafood products out there in many many countries, and we want to be the leading marketplace there.
Along with its China offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, the company also has offices in massive seafood production hubs, including Auckland, Sydney, Vancouver, Amsterdam and Boston.
It claims to have more than 400 seafood sellers on its platform and more than 4500 seafood buyers. Further, the company says that it has generated sales of more than $150 million.