Most independent retailers don’t have much time to source products for their stores. Instead, they are reliant on distributors that visit the store with products or on attending tradeshows. There are a number of emerging brands that would like to be on these shelves but don’t have the huge sales staff necessary to visit these retailers independently. Abound connects the two with its online wholesale marketplace. Retailers get access to a curated selection of products from vetted brands spanning various product categories like Accessories, Baby & Kids, Beauty, Food & Drink, Home, and Jewelry while getting flexible payment and return terms; the brands are able to secure retail placement through the platform. In 2020 despite the pandemic, Abound grew rapidly, registering a 20x growth in monthly sales volume, adding 180,000+ products to the marketplace.
AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Bill Shope to learn more about the business, future plans, and the company’s latest funding round, which brings the total funding raised to $27.1M.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
$22.9M Series A. Left Lane Capital led the round, with additional participation from RiverPark Ventures, All Iron Ventures, and Red Antler.
Tell us about the product or service that Abound offers.
We offer a curated wholesale marketplace that allows independent retailers to source products from the top emerging brands across the US and the UK.
What inspired the start of Abound?
We believed the legacy wholesale model, particularly trade shows, was inefficient and didn’t serve the needs of small businesses.
How is Abound different?
We offer expert curation, so retailers can be confident they are purchasing great products, and we remove the complexity of wholesale commerce.
What market does Abound target and how big is it?
Independent retailers, and we believe our TAM is $330B globally.
What’s your business model?
We earn commission on each sale.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
With most trade shows canceled through 2021, we have become an increasingly important platform for retailers searching for products and for brands seeking distribution.
What was the funding process like?
Because of the pandemic, most of our pitches were over Zoom. We had nearly 100 pitches in September and October before finding our lead partner.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The lack of face-to-face meetings added some challenges, but we eventually became comfortable with Zoom pitches.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We were solving an important pain point for small businesses. This was evidenced by our rapid growth in 2020 and our strong retailer and brand retention.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to significantly expand our engineering team and to steadily offer new features that further strip away the complexities of wholesale for our users.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep at it and focus on your users. If you’re solving a real problem, you will find the right investors.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re going to continue to expand our product selection, introduce our brands to a growing number of high-quality retailers, and develop features that lower the barriers to growth for small businesses.
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