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By Nikki Cabus

Max Retail Raises $15M Series A to Help Independent Retailers Participate in the Growing Ecommerce Wave

Read Time 4 Minutes

Max Retail, a marketplace that makes it easy for independent retailers and brands to sell excess inventory, announced a $15 million Series A round to help independent retailers take part in the ecommerce wave and sell their excess stock. 

Small retailers in the US sit on an average of 22% excess stock which, left unsold, represents anywhere from ~$50K-$200K in financial losses each year for these sellers. Globally, this is a $600 billion opportunity to solve. Most small independent retail stores and brands do not have the resources and technical capabilities to meaningfully participate in ecommerce marketplaces that large brands and retailers do. Max Retail exponentially increases the potential buyer pool beyond storefront patrons browsing the sales rack for these independent retailers, resulting in immediate cash relief and payouts 4-8x higher than the standard quo of liquidation.

West Palm Beach-based Max Retail expands the reach of retailers’ and brands’ unsold inventory far past their storefronts through its network of online marketplaces partners where end consumers can easily discover and purchase this inventory. The company enables small retail businesses to become fulfillment partners of some of the biggest names in online retail today, reaching over 400 million consumers. Max Retail is the only solution of its kind for small businesses to get paid the maximum value for excess inventory by easily and frictionlessly connecting the supply of unsold inventory to a global network of demand.

The round was led by Nosara Capital, a London-based online marketplaces VC firm, with participation from Rethink Impact, the largest US-based impact venture capital firm that invests in female leaders using technology. The round also includes continued support from LA-based VC M13, Houston-based The Artemis Fund, and Canadian-based StandUp Ventures, who share a focus on enabling technologies that power commerce and money.

“Independent retail shops are core pillars of their communities but face limited options for their excess inventory other than discounting far below cost, sending to consignment, or donating for a tax write-off,” said Melodie van der Baan, CEO & co-founder of Max Retail and former independent retailer.

“With this investment, we will continue to grow our sales channel network and expand this excess inventory solution to support the full product lifecycle, giving independent retailers and brands the tools they need to increase their inventory turns and maximize cash recuperation on unsold goods.”

This funding enables Max Retail to more than double its sellers, focusing on serving specialty retailers and brands that add vibrance to flourishing communities. The company is on its way to becoming the largest supply chain that holds no inventory and will expand its support of global sales channels in need of drop ship inventory.

“Max Retail has built a highly automated product and does not manage inventory or logistics, allowing them to grow efficiently and expand into new geographies and categories. We’re excited to back Melodie and the Max Retail team, who bring a wealth of first-hand industry experience to solving these challenges,” said Ian Loizeaux, founding partner at Nosara Capital.

The funding will also bring new innovations, including an AI-powered pricing and allocating engine that enables Max Retail to pay sellers the maximum value possible for their excess inventory, and SKU-level insights to help retailers understand inventory performance and market value of every item listed on Max Retail.

“Max Retail powers a more efficient market – getting the right inventory to the end customer at the right time, place and price. We’re thrilled to continue supporting the Max Retail team solving a big problem for retailers that also provides a valuable new inventory stream for online commerce sites. The more Max Retail grows, the more valuable a partner it becomes for its supplier network – and the less inventory sits on shelves or gets liquidated.” said Anna Barber, partner at M13 and former retailer, who recently joined the company’s board of directors.

Max Retail’s 2,000+ sellers nationwide praise the solution, launching the marketplace’s flywheel into full effect with 40% of the company’s inbound leads coming from customer-generated referrals today. Max Retail simultaneously solves pain points of marketplaces operating on zero inventory models, along with online retailers looking to supplement their stock with a wider variety of drop ship inventory.

“Max Retail has been a great partner, helping us source desirable merchandise and proactively respond to our rapidly changing seasonal assortment needs,” said Lindsay Ferstandig, CEO of Yaysay, an AI-powered discovery-driven shopping app.

Over the last twelve months, Max Retail has increased its seller payouts 3x with smaller sellers receiving ~$12K per year and larger sellers making over $250K per year. The company has also grown gross merchandise value (GMV) sold through the marketplace 4x year-over-year and is on the same trajectory for 2024, with 89% of active sellers having sold inventory every month of Q1.

“During a moment in which independent retailers face increasing pressures from the rising cost of rent and the likes of Amazon, Max Retail is providing much needed relief by unlocking untapped distribution channels with just a few clicks,” said Jenny Abramson, founder and managing partner of Rethink Impact. “We see Max Retail as a huge multiplier of our mission, making a meaningful impact on its customer base of 90% women-owned small businesses across all 50 states.”

To learn more about Max Retail, visit: www.maxretail.com.

By Nikki Cabus

CommerceTech platform smartBeemo receives $6 million in funding to support Latino online businesses

Read Time 3 Minutes

smartBeemo received $6 million in funding to continue their mission of supporting the growth of Latin eCommerce businesses. 

Founded in 2014, smartBeemo is a CommerceTech platform dedicated to assisting Latin individuals in launching and growing their own ECommerce stores. Through education, community engagement, access to solutions, and direct access to China, the company has served over 100,000 paying users to date. They are striving to play a significant role in e-commerce in Latin America.

Targeting entrepreneurs, professionals in business with digital presence, and marketing students, smartBeemo offers education solutions through online courses and diplomas, virtual and face-to-face events, digital and printed books and business consultancies. 

On February 12th, SmartBeemo announced their pre-Series A funding round that closed Dec 2023. The company was able to raise $6 million with Redwood Ventures leading the round. The round included nine different investors including existing Redwood Ventures, Simma Capital, and New Ventures, but also new investors Aluna Partners, EaglePoint Capital, Angel Hub, Impact Ventures, Promotora Social México, and RGMA Holdings de Multifamily EPC.

The Latin American-born company began in Colombia, South America and now has a Miami presence having gone through the Endeavor ScaleUP program. ScaleUp is an initiative by Endeavor, a global organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurs in 40+ countries. Endeavor ScaleUp is a cohort-based initiative that equips high-growth founders in Florida with the network and resources to gain clarity on their path to scale.

Endeavor ScaleUP participant, Michel Edery, Co-founder & CEO of smartBeemo, wanted to leverage the Spanish language for the good and bringing a ray of hope for the Latin Americans. In a world where English is in a class of its own, there are people who are still having a hard time understanding the language, and in turn, it acts as the major barrier in their learning process. Michel recognized this problem and developed smartBeemo only for such people, breaking the language barriers that affect their learning.

In an Endeavor Miami podcast episode, Michael shared his experience growing his company, the insights he’s gained by being part of an entrepreneurial community, and the happiness that comes from doing what he loves. He spoke of how he belives that humans are always building stating that “We as human beings always need to work on something and build something. There are people who build gardens [his neighbor] and there’s people who build companies. I build companies.” You can listen in to the full conversation here.

Michael had previously shared how business is booming in Latin America and that the pandemic forced people to look to the internet allowing them the knowledge of how easy it can be to connect and even launch their own ecommerce businesses. He stated, “Over here, there is a bridge between e-commerce and digital marketing major due to the language barriers as all the great content out there is in English. But now I think people are starting to learn and understand more about social media, e-commerce and I can now see thousands of people launching their businesses.”

According to statista.com, Latin America harbors more than 300 million digital buyers, a figure forecast to grow by more than 20 percent by 2027.

Although e-commerce adoption in this part of the world is still lower than in other regions, online retail sales in Latin America were estimated at nearly 168 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and set to account for almost 20 percent of total retail by 2026. On a regional level, Brazil and Mexico are vying for the lead, each accounting for close to 30 percent of the Latin American e-commerce market. However, other economies such as Argentina, Colombia, and Peru have been drawing increasing attention due to their swift growth.

To learn more about smartBeemo, visit www.smartbeemo.com

By Nikki Cabus

David Reeder to Join Chewy as Chief Financial Officer

Read Time 2 Minutes

Chewy, Inc. (NYSE: CHWY) (“Chewy”) announced the appointment of David Reeder as their next incoming Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

After the retirement of long-term executive Mario Marte, Stacy Bowman stepped in as interim CFO. Upon David’s arrival, which is expected to place February 14th, 2024, Stacy Bowman will continue serving as Chewy’s Chief Accounting Officer.

“David is a highly experienced finance executive who has driven strong results across a range of complex industries,” said Sumit Singh, CEO of Chewy. “I am excited for David to join Chewy and to play an important role in driving long-term, profitable and capital efficient growth as we execute on key strategic priorities across our business.”

David Reeder is currently the CFO of GlobalFoundries Inc. (Nasdaq: GFS), a leading semiconductor manufacturer, where he has been for almost three and a half years. He has served as CFO since 2020 and led their financial strategy, including their 2021 initial public offering. David previously served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tower Hill Insurance Group, as well as President and CEO of Lexmark International Inc. Earlier in his career, David was CFO at Electronics for Imaging, Inc., and he also held executive roles at Cisco Systems, Inc., Broadcom Inc., and Texas Instruments Inc.

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, David Reed, age 48, will receive an annual base salary of $600,000. He will also be eligible to receive a one-time new hire equity grant with a value of $16,843,750 (subject to the Board’s approval) which will be granted in restricted stock units of Chewy.

“Chewy is a beloved brand and a world-class enterprise, whose sustained growth, significant margin expansion and operational excellence continue to elevate the pet category,” said David Reeder. “I am thrilled to join Chewy’s leadership team and couldn’t be more excited about the road ahead.”

David is currently a member of the board of directors of Alphawave IP Group plc. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Arkansas and a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University.

Since launching in, Chewy has been on a mission to be the most trusted and convenient destination for pet parents and partners everywhere. The company aims to be the preeminent online source for pet products, supplies and prescriptions. Chewy has been known for their broad selection of high-quality products and services, competitive prices, and an exceptional level of customer care and a personal touch.

By Nikki Cabus

An entrepreneurs journey; ShipMonk Founder names new CEO

Read Time 4 Minutes

Just last week, the Founder of ShipMonk, Jan Bednar, announced the company will have a new CEO – Josh McCarter.

 

Here’s a little about Jan Bednar’s entrepreneurial journey. 

 

At only 17 years old, Jan Bednar moved to the United States from the Czech Republic to attend Florida Atlantic University and pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur. While at university, his friends back home would ask Jan to purchase American products that were either too expensive or not available in the Czech Republic and ship it to them. Many merchants in the United States also refused to ship to the Czech Republic or their payment method was unaccepted. They would order online, have the products shipped to Jan and then Jan would turn around and ship to them. Jan began to realize the real demand for American products and decided to start a business doing the same thing he already was for family and friends back home.

In 2014 while studying in FAU’s College of Business, Jan entered the FAU Business Plan Competition (now FAU Business Pitch) with his new business idea BedaBox, a DHL partner offering heavily discounted shipping between Europe and the USA that forwards packages to international clients. Out of 250 participants and multiple rounds of judging, BedaBox won!

The pitch competition is hosted by FAU’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and encourages FAU students, faculty, staff and recent graduates to pitch their game-changing idea for a chance to fund their new ventures. Along with prize money, teams compete for legal and business services, preferred access into the FAU Tech Runway Venture Program and the opportunity to present their business pitch to local angel, venture capital groups and more.

The following month, Jan was nominated to represent FAU in the state-wide collegiate Business Plan Competition with the Florida Venture Forum. Jan won first place beating other students and business plans from universities from all around Florida.

Winning the competitions, earned Jan over $30k and a spot in the FAU Tech Runway®, a South Florida public-private partnership that serves as a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies. Tech Runway’s companies can access mentoring, introductions to early-stage capital, grants and seed funding. In addition, they are provided with the tools to become successful entrepreneurs, including a rigorous boot camp, access to business and technology events, and connections to a thriving regional innovation network. BedaBox was included in Venture Class 1 at Tech Runway.

Jan graduated from the College of Business with a major in Management Information Systems in 2014 and in 2016 he transformed BedaBox into ShipMonk. Jan realized that there was a huge opportunity for technology-driven fulfillment services for the small and medium-sized ecommerce companies. Fulfillment takes a lot of time and takes companies away from focusing on growing their business. There were no competitors in the space with user-friendly technology that would support a great customer experience. That’s how the ShipMonk we know now was born.

According to Jan in an FAU interview, he founded ShipMonk to “change the way eCommerce companies manage their supply chain and ship orders to their customers through a game-changing supply chain software, automation and exceptional fulfillment service. ShipMonk is a technology company that solves ecommerce companies’ biggest problem — fulfillment.”

In late 2015, ShipMonk moved to a 23,000 square foot facility in Pompano Beach. They quickly outgrew this space. By late 2016, ShipMonk moved to a massive 90,000 square foot facility in Deerfield Beach. Additionally, Jan knew that ShipMonk could best serve its customers by operating facilities on both coasts and so the California location was opened.

Now, their South Florida headquarters in Fort Lauderdale is 220k square feet and the entire office is built out of storage containers. It has a full bar, gym, trampoline, game room and is pet friendly. ShipMonk now spans across almost twenty facilities across the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. The company’s total funding now exceeds $365 million. They are continuing to expand their footprint, roll out new technology and take over the industry.

In a recent social media post, Jan announced that after an intense 18-month search, he will be stepping down from CEO and named Josh McCarter as his replacement.

“When I started ShipMonk from my apartment in 2016, I never imagined we would come this far. We started from zero, without any venture funding, to a global presence with over 18 warehouses worldwide spanning some 4,000,000 square feet. Our team has grown to over 2,000 exceptional employees. Together, we have shipped over 100 million orders to customers worldwide, helping thousands of businesses achieve their growth goals. Despite the skeptics, we’ve outperformed traditional and venture-backed fulfillment companies, maintaining profitability while scaling to hundreds of millions of revenue per year,” wrote Jan.

“Most importantly, I was able to share this journey with people I love, admire and deeply care about. Nothing makes me happier and more fulfilled (no pun intended) than remembering the special moments we’ve all shared on this journey.”

To learn more about ShipMonk, visit www.shipmonk.com

 

By Nikki Cabus

Ft. Lauderdale’s FIT:MATCH honored as high impact tech startup in the international The Lead 100 List 2023

Read Time 5 Minutes

The Leading 100 List 2023, the highly anticipated international annual research list recognizing innovative tech start-ups driving the future of brand-to-consumer has been announced and the local Ft. Lauderdale-based FIT:MATCH has made the list.

FIT:MATCH is a ‘Digital Twin Matching Platform’ for B2B apparel brands enabling them to match their customers with the best-fitting products. The company’s patented algorithms derive a shopper’s 3D body shape, or “digital twin,’ using augmented reality and LIDAR-powered devices, to make personalized product recommendations in hard to fit categories. FIT:MATCH is designed to eliminate brands’ and consumers’ questions about fit in order to drive conversion and loyalty, while reducing returns.

The Leading 100 List, produced by The Lead, recognizes high impact technology start-ups that are transforming the direct-to-consumer business model and driving business value for brands as well as retailers. These young companies are venture capital funded and predominantly in their seed or series A round of financing. The Leading 100 companies are solving business problems, powering growth, and helping brands deliver on customer expectations through innovative, accessible, and powerful technology solutions. All companies were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology which measured Innovation, Business Impact, Commercialization & Customers, Teams & Experience, Competition, Media Buzz, and Investor Value Creation. Company data was collected via a combination of CEO interviews, company nomination data, and publicly available market data.

FIT:MATCH, the digital twin platform, recently partnered with disruptor brand Savage X Fenty, in collaboration with Intel to launch the next generation of its award-winning, patented body shape technology. The product, dubbed Fit Xperience, gives shoppers the opportunity to get scanned in an in-store fitting room using Intel’s RealSense technology and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit.

Within seconds, customers are matched with the best-fitting Savage X styles based on their exact body shape. This first-of-its-kind experience is available exclusively at Savage X Fenty retail stores, debuted at its new Lenox Square Mall location in Atlanta, Georgia in February.

This new experience weaves together augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence, creating a re-imagined in-store fitting room experience. Shoppers who take part in Fit Xperience step into the fitting room where Intel RealSense depth sensors create an anonymized avatar based on their exact body shape. The technology then compares the shopper’s body to the database of digital twins (bodies that have been scanned previously), and – with an AI assist from Intel OpenVINO – recommends the best-fitting products to the shopper. By using depth sensors, and not cameras, to generate a mapping of a shoppers’ shape, FIT:MATCH has ensured the entire experience is both safe and private, with no videos and pictures taken or stored. The process is also extremely fast — it takes less than 30 seconds from beginning to end — saving time, both for the shoppers and the store associates.

Savage X Fenty closed a strategic investment in FIT:MATCH last year to accelerate expansion of the AR-powered technology, which solves the fit challenge that has long plagued brands and consumers by utilizing body shape data rather than just standard measurements.

This is the type of “high impact technology” that The Lead is looking for in their startups honored in The Lead 100 List 2023.

“Capitalizing on the learnings from the initial Fit Xperience rollout, we wanted to take the entire experience to the next level. This new product leverages Intel’s RealSense technology, as well as OpenVINO software to deliver a powerful, fast, and immersive shopping experience,” said Haniff Brown, Founder and CEO of FIT:MATCH. “We truly believe this is the most frictionless in-store fitting experience on the market.”

Companies from across the value chain all around the world — including marketing, ecommerce, customer experience, stores, data, AI, last mile, checkouts and payments, sustainability, merchandising, and Web3 — were nominated & considered. All companies were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology which measures Innovation, Business Impact, Commercialization & Customers, Teams and Experience, Competition, Media Buzz, and Investor Value Creation. The selection committee, led by The Lead’s Chief Content Officer, Sonal Gandhi, conducted the analysis and final selection.

“The pace of change in the fashion, beauty and consumer industries has become dizzyingly fast, even for the industry leaders,” says Gandhi. “The companies selected for The Leading 100 list represent some of the best examples of how technology innovation is helping address the needs of this rapidly evolving business environment. Some are helping brands get the best out of the latest advances in powerful technologies such as AI, while others are creating solutions to optimize efficiency and productivity across the value chain.”

The Leading 100 List of 2023 is presented in partnership with RILA, NYFTL, XRC Ventures, Plug & Play, The Robin Report, and SUBTA. The Leading 100 Selection Committee includes: Pano Anthos, Founder & Managing Director, XRC Ventures; Jackie Trebilcock, Managing Director, New York Fashion Tech Lab; Nicholas Ahrens, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Innovation & Content, RILA; Nick Reasner, Director, Innovation & Customer Experience, Simon Property Group; Chip Korn, Partner & Co-chair, Emerging Company & Venture Capital Practice Group, Foley Hoag; Ken Pilot, Founder, Ken Pilot Ventures; Will Decker, Head of Brand & Retail, Plug & Play Tech Center; Christine Russo, Principal, RCC Agency; Tom Barbaro, Co-Founder, Cogent; Juan Mejia, Managing Director, BrightTower; Ian McGarrigle, Chairman, World Retail Congress; and Robin Lewis, Founder & CEO, The Robin Report.

“At XRC Ventures, we are excited about new technologies that empower brands and retailers to innovate,” says XRC Ventures Founder & Managing Director, Pano Anthos. “The Leading 100 List includes startups that are doing just that by developing and leveraging new approaches in AI applications, spatial intelligence, supply chain redesign, sustainably-focused methods, and more. I look forward to seeing these startups help lead our industry into the future.”

The Leading 100 will be honored at The Lead Innovation Summit on July 12th & 13th, The Lead’s flagship event where the entire fashion, beauty, home, CPG, food, beverage, health, wellness, and retail innovation community will converge to engage the future of the direct-to-consumer business model. The annual event will bring together executives from enterprise brands and retailers, challenger DTC brands, innovative unicorns, technology start-ups, enterprise technology, investors, dealmakers, analysts, and stakeholders that comprise The Lead’s network.

 

 

The Leading 100 List of 2023

Accrue Savings
Adentro
Alloy Automation
Anvyl
Archive Resale
Archive.com
Breinify
Browzwear
buywith
Canal
Carro
Catch
Checkmate
Chord
Cogsy
Constructor.io
Crossing Minds
Curated for You
Cymbio
Daasity
DataMilk
Disco
Drop
EcoCart
EON
Factored Quality
Fairing
Feel
Fermat
Fillogic
FIT:MATCH.ai
FlagshipRTL
FloorFound
Floship
Fondue
Fuse Inventory
Hang.xyz
Haus Analytics
Hexa 3D
Howl Technologies
Humankind
Intelligems
Kahoona
KERV
Kevel
Leap
Lexer
Lily AI
Link Money
LiquiDonate
 Loop
Maropost
MasonHub
Measured
Northbeam
Nostra.ai
Novel
Obsess
Okendo
Osa Commerce
Outerspace
Pairzon
Pandion
Pathr.ai
Pipe 17
Postscript
Quorso
Radar
Rebuy
Recurate
ReFundid
Retention.com
RevLifter
Revuze
Rutter
Seek.AI
Shoppinggives
Skipify
Smartrr
SoundCommerce
Sparkplug
Storyblok
SuperCircle
Superfiliate
Syrup Tech
Tapcart
Thankful.Ai
Toki
Toolio
Tracer
Treat.xyz
Triple Whale
Try your best
TryNow
Vizit
Vntana
Vyrill
Wizard
Yogi
ZMO.AI
Max Retail Raises $15M Series A to Help Independent Retailers Participate in the Growing Ecommerce Wave
CommerceTech platform smartBeemo receives $6 million in funding to support Latino online businesses
David Reeder to Join Chewy as Chief Financial Officer
An entrepreneurs journey; ShipMonk Founder names new CEO
Ft. Lauderdale’s FIT:MATCH honored as high impact tech startup in the international The Lead 100 List 2023