Tink Labs, a Hong Kong startup that develops smartphones that hotels provide to their guests for free, is raising a new round of up to USD 300 million to further its international footprint, TechCrunch has come to understand.
The startup is in the final stages of completing the deal that could give its six-year-old business a post-money valuation of at least USD 1.5 billion, two sources with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch.
It isn’t clear at this point which investors are part of the round, but once source said Tink Labs has made an effort to court hotels and travel firms as investors since it believes they could provide strategic value beyond simply capital. But any hoteliers would likely provide smaller checks, with more established investors picking up the bulk of the round.
Tink Labs declined to respond when contacted for comment by TechCrunch.
The company’s existing investors include manufacturing giant Foxconn (via its FIH Mobile unit), Sinovation Ventures - the investment firm from ex-Google China head Kaifu Lee - and Cai Wensheng, an angel investor who is the founder and chairman of Hong Kong-listed photo app firm Meitu. It also snagged money from SoftBank this summer after the Japanese firm invested in a joint-venture for the Japanese market. That deal appears to have been hugely successful since Japan is Tink Labs’ largest market with over 810 hotel deployments.
To date, the firm has announced over USD 170 million in funding. Its most recent deal was a USD 125 million investment in 2016, but a source close to the company said it landed an undisclosed deal in the past year that took its valuation over the USD 1 billion mark and made it one of Hong Kong’s first unicorns. Bloomberg reported last year that it had closed USD 40 million, but that was never confirmed nor announced by Tink Labs, so this round could mark its official coming out as a billion-dollar business.
Its Handy product is a smartphone for hotel guests that takes the pain out of mobile roaming.
The concept has proven popular with hotels - global brands using Handy include the likes of IHG, Sheraton, Novotel, Mercure and Holiday Inn - and, in perhaps the ultimate validation, a series of knock-offs have surfaced with their own Handy clones.
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