"Menya" Platform Receives Eleven Million RMB in pre-A Round Financing

Gourmet foods e-commerce platform + internet marketing + online celebrities


Shanghai, China -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/14/2017 --36kr.com has confirmed that the "Menya" e-commerce platform has completed pre-A round financing, obtaining eleven million RMB in total. The largest investor is yet to be disclosed; other major investors include the DHQC Fund, SEPTWOLVES Capital, Knowledge and Action Capital, and personal investor Liao Dong.

At first sight, Menya might strike the casual viewer as an e-commerce platform with content related to gourmet food and snacks; a platform that attracts traffic with short videos, pictures, and articles about food, and attempts to convert that traffic into purchases. But e-commerce is only a part of Menya's business. Its founder, Zhu Jia, told 36kr.com that Menya's advantage lies neither in online food retailing nor in producing short videos: "As for e-commerce, the two major platforms Taobao and Jingdong are also selling foods; as for food-related video content, Mango TV's "Foodvideo" is the big name."

However, Zhu Jia believes Menya's team has different genes; genes inherited from experience working at Mango TV, the online arm of Hunan Television. Before starting Menya, Zhu Jia had a fourteen-year career at Hunan TV, working in both the news center and the TV shopping program "HappiGo". As one of the original employees of HappiGo, Zhu Jia witnessed the "0 to 1" progress of televised infomercial-style marketing in China. Her other two partners also have experience operating their own marketing firms.

"We have been producing video content for ten years, and our core advantage is that in these ten years, what we were doing was not producing a TV show, but using methods of producing content that elevated the product in the consumers' eyes; that educated the consumer about why this was a product worthy of purchasing, about what useful traits and features it has. In new media channels, these same methods still apply."

Before their "to C" service to consumers started, Menya's team took on food and beverage industry clients for their online marketing service, including the famous Shuijingfang, Wuliangye and Moutai liquor brands. This service includes the whole process of online marketing, from new media planning to sales, with revenue realized in the form of sales commission instead of a set fee. Last year, Menya earned 180 million RMB from this business line.

Zhu Jia added, during her time at HappiGo, not only did she learn a system of media marketing, but as product director, she also accumulated resources and connections in the product supply chain as well as the online celebrity spokesperson fields. Currently, the ratio of domestic to foreign products sold on Menya is 7:3. Menya focuses on new products, products with novelty value, or packaging several products together.

In addition, to maximize value from the supply chain, Menya acts as a broker between online celebrities and food and beverage suppliers, providing products for these celebrities to sell. So far, 20 internet celebrity agencies have entered into cooperation with Menya, and Menya itself has signed about 300 celebrities, who not only sell the products, but also participate in the filming of Menya's short videos.

On the topic of the differences between Menya and other food-oriented video content providers such as "DayDayCook" and "Rosemary Food", Zhu Jia says that for young people, curious and interesting content such as "The coolest way of drinking Sprite", "How to catch Alaskan king crab" and "The world's spiciest potato chips" might be more attractive than simply teaching them how to cook. This is where Menya is aiming—"while most people are trying to satisfy the needs of middle class consumers, Menya wants to attract subcultures of the post-1990 and post-1995 youth such as foodies, "zhai" [whose life revolves around staying indoors plugged into their phones and computers] and animation/comic book fans."

According to information provided by Menya, their first original show "Super Taste" racked up 200 million views in four months. Following this show, five more original shows with content such as gourmet food and cuisine in popular animation were produced. The platform usually releases two new pieces of content per day.

After this round of financing, Menya will focus on expanding their influence on consumers. In the future, they will launch an user-generated content community, so that online celebrities working with Menya can produce their own videos, enriching the app's content. Another future plan is providing innovative marketing methods for business clients, such as an example given by Zhu Jia of an instant noodle company filming a taste test with platform users and opinion leaders. When the platform's supply chain is more mature, Menya also plans to produce own-brand products.

Zhu Jia believes: "The difference between television marketing and online marketing is that television marketing talks about the functions of a product, but online marketing needs to arouse viewers' emotions to go viral. One thing they have in common, though, is pinpointing customers' weaknesses and analyzing the reasons behind their purchases. Take snacks for example, with the abundant choice in the snack market, snacking is more and more becoming a form of entertainment, where arousing the consumer's curiosity, such as with intentional bad taste or a unique way of eating, can move them to purchase a snack."