Singaporean inventory management software startup TradeGecko announced a US$6.5 million series A funding round today. The round is led by Singapore-based venture capitalfirm NSI Ventures, which has been actively looking to support local companies through series A financing, and Jungle Ventures.
The investment will help the company further expand its competitive product and technology. “B2B, or wholesale, is still stuck in 2001,” Cameron Priest, co-founder of TradeGecko, tells Tech in Asia. “Excel spreadsheets, paper purchase orders, faxes, and clumsy, expensive software.” The company aims to take this fundamentally “unsexy” sector and make it as easy for the business owner to use as it is for a consumer to shop on Amazon.
The reference to the online retail giant isn’t just thrown into the conversation by accident. Amazon has been looking to streamline wholesale in the same way it took over the B2C retail sector. However, the company’s AmazonSupply service is still in beta, as PR focuses mostly on drone package delivery and streaming original TV shows. Meanwhile, the otherecommerce juggernaut, Alibaba, has entered the field more aggressively, earning US$1 billion during fiscal 2014.
The B2B market is huge and TradeGecko is poised to make an impact in it. The three-year old Singaporean startup provides an online and mobile platform that allows small and medium enterprises to manage their commerce cycle via a cloud-based solution. It has been growing steadily, its customer base spanning over 100 countries and tens of thousands of paying users (the company would not provide an exact number).
“[The new series A financing] will allow us to do a lot more of what we’ve already been doing,” Priest says. The company will be focusing on what it terms “smart intelligence,” which will provide its customers with new tools like advanced forecasting and analytics to better enable them to forecast their growth, profit, sales, and so on. “By bringing this advanced intelligence to SMEs, we’re allowing them to run their businesses with the sort of technology previously only available to large wholesalers and retailers like Amazon.”
TradeGecko will also be opening up its app store so that new applications can be included, such as marketplaces, CRM, accounting, warehouse management software, and so on.
The company currently employs 60 people with offices in Singapore and Manila, and hopes to expand to over 200 employees – one notable get in this regard is Nathalie Benzing, former executive of Autodesk, as COO. At the same time, it is looking to grow its presence in the USA (North America being the company’s biggest market at the moment), Australia, and Hong Kong.
Despite its global aims, TradeGecko wants to emphasize it is a company from Asia, and Singapore in particular. In the rich startup ecosystem currently forming in the region, it wants to show it is possible for a company to start in this country and scale globally. Other local startups, such as Zopim, have managed it, and so can more young startups. That’s why it went with local investors for this series A round.
“We knew [NSI Ventures and Jungle Ventures] from our time at [Singapore startupaccelerator] JFDI,” Priest says. “They always gave us good advice, but we hadn’t expected to do business with them.” But when the time came for a new investment round, TradeGecko knew this would help bolster its identity as a Singaporean company.
Priest admits the founders had their doubts about how viable the idea of a global company starting in Singapore could be, but they decided to go ahead with it. “We realized we can be a big, global company from Singapore, not just a big Singapore company,” he adds.