[THE INVESTOR] VCNC, the operator of Korea’s largest mobile messenger for couples, Between, said on Aug. 16 it had launched an online character goods store -- the third of its kind here after those run by its bigger rivals Kakao and Line.
“There have been growing demands from users here and abroad for us to launch an online goods store since 2014 but the issue was the huge initial spending (required),” said VCNC CEO Jake Park.
“In order to gauge the potential of the business, we carried out crowdfunding campaigns.”
The Seoul-based startup raised funds for the store launch via eight rounds of crowdfunding. The company declined to reveal the exact amount but said its character cushion raised about 3,200 percent of the funding target.
The CEO said overseas users, who make up almost half of the Between users, are showing especially keen interest in the goods store. To better cater to overseas users, the store offers international shipping as well as foreign language services.
In recent years, Kakao and Line have been expanding their offline presence with their own character goods.
Line has recently opened a flagship store for character goods, named Line Friends, in Times Square, New York. It runs more than 20 Line Friends stores in total, including stores in Japan and Taiwan.
During the April-June period this year, Kakao earned 121 billion won (US$105.9 million) in its character business, which includes mobile emoji and offline goods sales. Its total quarterly revenue was 468.4 billion won.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)