Source: Microsoft

Taiwanese startup iKala, which offers an artificial intelligence-based customer acquisition and engagement platform, will expand into new Southeast Asian markets after raising a $17 million Series B. The round was led by Wistron Digital Technology Holding Company, the investment arm of the electronics manufacturer, with participation from returning investors Hotung Investment Holdings Limited and Pacific Venture Partners. It brings iKala’s total raised so far to $30.3 million.

The new funding will be used to launch in Indonesia and Malaysia, and expand in markets where iKala already operates, including Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. Wistron Digital Technology Holding Company, which also offers big data analytics, will serve as a strategic investor, and this also marks the Taiwanese firm’s entry into Southeast Asia.

IKala’s products are targeted toward e-commerce companies, and include KOL Radar, for influencer marketing, and Shoplus, a social commerce service focused on Southeast Asian markets.

In a statement about the funding, iKala board member Lee-feng Chien, former managing director at Google Taiwan, said, “Taiwan has an excellent reputation for having some of the best high-tech talents in both hardware and software around the region. With Wistron as a strategic partner, iKala can become a major driving force for transforming Taiwan into an AI industry and talent hub in Asia.”

While Taiwan’s technology industry is best-known for hardware, especially semiconductor manufacturers like Foxconn and TSMC, a new crop of startups are helping the country establish a reputation for AI prowess.

In addition to iKala, these include Appier, which also provides a customer analytics, and enterprise translation platform WritePath. Big American tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, have also set up AI-focused research and development centers in Taiwan, drawing on the country’s engineering talent and government programs.

AI-based customer engagement platform iKala raises million to expand in Southeast Asia