In just a year, Malaysia-based beauty e-commerce site Althea has grown from a small start-up to the biggest online Korean beauty market in Southeast Asia.
It’s a dream come true for Althea CEO Frank Kang, 32, who started the company with two friends in May of 2015 after working for Korean retail site Ticketmonster. They decided to focus on Korean beauty products because they are “small and moveable.”
It’s a common request to bring back beauty products from Korea, as the same products in Malaysia are priced much higher. Shopping online for the same products was also problematic, with questions arising about authenticity and limited product selection.
After Althea’s massive success in Malaysia, the company expanded to Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand within months.
“The reason why we could expand so fast is that our business model is a very scaleable structure,” Kang says.
Just last year, the transaction amount of K-beauty products in Southeast Asia was pegged at USD 1 billion. It is the second biggest destination for Korean beauty products, second only to China. By 2020, sales are expected to go up by 8 billion.
Kang says Althea is looking into casting an even bigger net in the region with plans of going to Myanmar, Hong Kong, and Taiwan next.