Kenyan IM startup Ongair opens Hong Kong office

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Kenyan startup Ongair, which enables businesses to engage their customers via instant messaging, has announced the opening of its new Southeast Asia headquarters in Hong Kong.

Launched in 2014, Ongair is an instant messaging aggregator, offering WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Telegram integration. The announcement of its Hong Kong office comes just a few months after the company raised an undisclosed funding round from VC firm Nest to help it expand into Asia.

The company said one of the main reasons for choosing Hong Kong as its headquarters was the high penetration rate for instant messaging in the country.

“Hong Kong is the perfect launch pad for our Southeast Asia expansion. Being right next door to China and enjoying efficient, stable and dependable business systems as well as access to globally attractive talent makes it an ideal location for us,” said Ongair chief executive officer (CEO) Trevor Kimenye.

Ongair’s Hong Kong headquarters will be located in the central business district of Hong Kong, and was identified with the strategic help of Nest.

Nest chief operating officer (COO) Lawrence Morgan said by establishing a physical presence in Hong Kong the startup had committed to Asia and was demonstrating its intent to grow the business across the region.

“For us, the opportunity for further international expansion was one of the key reasons we invested in Ongair at the end of 2015 and now we are excited to help them build out a network and support the company’s marketing efforts. Given the high level of smartphone adoption in Asia and the popularity of instant messaging, we see tremendous potential for Ongair,” he said.

Ongair already has several clients in Hong Kong, including online food delivery business FoodPanda and travel concierge service TravelFlan. It has also signed partnerships with marketing firm Ogilvy & Mather and luxury brand distributor Bluebell Group, to allow Ongair to fast-track its entry into the market through the clients of its partners.

“I am excited to see what bold new stuff we can build with our partners in Hong Kong. Working with an awesome agency like Ogilvy and large retailers like Bluebell will give us the scale we need to really show how instant messaging can add immense value at every touch point of the consumer lifecycle from research, to  awareness, to e-commerce, to customer support and beyond,” said Ongair co-founder Charles Gichuki.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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