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CyberAgent Ventures Serves Up Funding for Taiwan Social Recipes Startup

An iCook.tw user’s recipes.

Japan’s CyberAgent Ventures clearly likes the look of what Taiwanese startup Polydice is cooking up, and has today invested in its social site iCook.tw. As the name suggests, iCook is focused on recipes, and provides a Pinterest-esque platform for people to share their tastiest concoctions.

The funding amount hasn’t been revealed, but it’s significant as this is the first Taiwan move since the Cyberagent (TYO:4751) investment arm first set up offices in Taipei late last year. (There was also the backing for restaurant review site iPeen last Spring, before the local office opened). CyberAgent Ventures explains in today’s announcement that the “investment was made through the CA-JAIC China Internet Fund II, which is jointly managed by CyberAgent Ventures and Japan Asia Investment.”

The investment firm reckons that iCook.tw is the fastest-growing social recipes site in Taiwan. Catherine Chang from the CyberAgent Ventures Taipei office tells us that the startup “has been live for 11 months, and has 70,000 users and 10,000 recipes – all user generated.”

(See: A Visit to CyberAgent Ventures’ Startup Base Camp)

Catherine adds that, at the moment, iCook is monetizing via a mix of banner ads and promotional tie-ups with food companies – as seen with its brand-oriented recipe/cooking contents. But the startup is mainly focusing on building up its user-base – and Facebook fandom – for now, as well as its iOS app, which was “released last month and has reached 150,000 downloads.”

As for the appeal of this kind of niche social site, the announcement points out how it’s learning from the Japanese web scene:

As there is a void for this type of media in Taiwan, and successful business models have been executed off existing recipe-based SNS in Japan, CyberAgent Ventures believes that iCook.tw has strong potential to become the leading player in Taiwan and will take advantage of CyberAgent Inc’s wide network of resources to enhance the company’s growth and value.

Indeed, the startup team is particularly looking to Japan’s Cookpad, which brought in over $40 million in sales last year thanks to a mix of ads, brand promotions, and premium content.


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