How Hypefast became the largest house of eCommerce native brands in Southeast Asia
Hypefast is a pioneering business with a pioneer at the helm. When Achmad Alkatiri launched Hypefast in January 2020 he was operating the first house of brands eCommerce model in Southeast Asia which of course raised a few eyebrows. Was there an appetite in the market for a business promising to supercharge other brands? Well, the results speak for themselves. Hypefast has now grown its portfolio to over 25 brands & raised $22mn in funding so far making it one of the largest, fastest-growing and profitable startups in the region.
Achmad or Mad as he is fondly known, is a veteran in the e-commerce space, having been the CMO at Lazada and the youngest ever Marketing Lead at Shopee. He knows that the eCommerce category in Southeast Asia demonstrates almost infinite headroom for accelerated growth. The barriers to entry for starting eCommerce business are getting lower, the logistics more efficient & the customer base more affluent. With less than $300 young entrepreneurs can build a brand and start selling on Lazada & Shopee. This represents what Mad refers to as a ‘plug & play’ system that attracts driven individuals to take a chance & start a business.
So how did Mad capitalise on the boom in native e-commerce brands in building the largest house of eCommerce brands in Southeast Asia?
Aiming for profitability early in Hypefast’s journey
From the outset Mad prioritized profitability. Despite coming from a growth-first background in previous roles where he had millions to spend in marketing budgets, when Mad launched Hypefast he recognised that he didn’t want to be spending money hand over fist. He firmly believed that he could keep the marketing to revenue ratio low & nurture a business that was both scalable & profitable. Mad wanted to spend time finding the right brands to join the Hypefast stable & a lower burn rate gave him the confidence to do this.
Since the beginning profitability has also been of the key filters Mad has applied when choosing which brands Hypefast will invest in. Of course brand size is a factor — he looks for businesses that already deliver approximately $500k minimum — & the financials are important but ultimately it is profitability that Mad believes is the strongest indicator that the business is a viable proposition.
Prioritising investor time over investor money
The same mindset that led Mad to prioritise profitability played a big part in influencing how he chose his investors. Of course, the valuation & ticket size were important but, having spoken with hundreds of investors, Mad always found himself ranking time as of greater value than money.
He actively sought out investors willing to spend time with him, mentor him & reign him in when one of his crazy ideas wasn’t quite up to scratch. Mad might have held one of the most high profile marketing jobs in the region & built a wildly successful business but he is admirably humble. By his own admission, there were gaps in his knowledge & the advice of the Jungle team was invaluable.
Just as Mad works hard to identify the investor who could mentor him, he takes great care to find founders who would benefit from his own mentorship & whose ambitions are aligned with the Hyperfast ethos. He needs to see that a founder not only has a plan to create a $100mn business in 3 to 5 years but also to believe they have the qualities it will take to achieve this goal. Much like Jungle, he places great value in humility, tenacity & resilience as necessary traits to overcome the inevitable hurdles that will face a growing ecommerce business.
Community anchored on trust
Part of Mad’s motivation for becoming a founder was to build a company that people wanted to work at. Somewhere that was considered one of the best places to work in the industry. Mad has always played a very active role in defining & monitoring Hypefast’s talent & culture strategy to ensure that it never became a machine. He wanted everyone in the company to buy into the vision & put their everything into helping the digital & e-commerce native brands in the Hypefast family grow into global category leaders. Mad’s management style involved placing faith in the team & granting them complete ownership of their job.
Importantly he likes to see this community spirit in the founders he invests in. Not only in how they lead their people but in how they seek to grow their brand. Mad believes strongly in the power of community as a marketing tool. That a connected, engaged customer base will be both more loyal & more vocal in their advocacy for the brand. He sees this as being especially important for local brands. Local brands not only deliver products more suited to local taste but can engage in ways that feel more authentic & more timely.
So this founder’s story is one of Mad by name, sensible by nature. He never got hooked on fast growth at all costs, admitted when he needed advice & trusted his people to deliver. Many founders cannot resist taking the ‘moving fast & break things’ approach but Mad knew better. He knew that if he wanted other brands to invest their futures in Hypefast then he had to set new standards in ensuring truly sustainable growth.