The beautiful thing about Gothenburg-based Saltside Technologies is that they throw away the assumption that if you want to grow into a valuable company, you need to be targeting the U.S., Europe, or at least the BRIC countries. With online classified portals operating in four “third tier” markets, Saltside announces today that they’re raised a generous $40 million series C funding round to reinforce their market positions, look into new markets, and continue developing technology for their portals. To date the company has raised $65 million.
Investing in the round are Chinese equity investor Hillhouse Capital, with support by the Swedish private equity fund Brummer & Partners and existing lead shareholder Kinnevik. The new investors participating in this round aren’t your typical startup investors – these firms look for companies with very long investment horizons.
“Its not easy to get funding in this kind of ranges in the markets that we’re in. We’re in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, and some extent Pakistan even though it’s not a focus market. These are really frontier markets,” Nils Hammar, CEO of Saltside Technologies tells ArcticStartup.
Saltside counts 6 million visitors to their platform each month, but Hammar says that the true metric they’re focused on is how they compare to their competitors. “Primarily [this investment] is first and foremost earmarked so that we continue winning in the markets that we are in. All of these markets are becoming more and more competitive, so even though we have a big lead, we need these kind of resources to be prepared for ahead.”
Saltside’s strategy has been to keep their engineering in Gothenburg while building up local offices. Knowledge is centralized in Sweden and their Dubai office as well – so if there’s a question about customer support, for instance, the local offices can rely on expert managers overseeing all portals.
You can be sure that Saltside is looking into other regions but they seem to be in no big hurry to add more countries to their list. Rather than a MVP style test in new markets, Hammar tells us that they try hard to stay focused on any new markets that they enter. “When we enter its big and for the long term, we really aren’t experimenting in that sense.”
For my money Saltside is one of the most interesting companies coming out of the region. When you look at how much of the western economy is internet-based, it only makes sense to become a market leader in countries that will be soon be as connected as we are.