Promoted grabs more funding to help e-commerce marketplaces achieve profitability

It’s a big week for startups developing technology for e-commerce marketplaces. We saw companies like Nautical Commerce bag $30 million in Series A funding to help any sized business create their own marketplace. Meanwhile, Shop Circle made its public debut with $65 million under its belt with apps so that Shopify merchants can quickly set up their businesses.

And why not, the sector is big business: It’s estimated that some $3.2 trillion was spent globally on the top marketplaces in 2021, with those like Taobao, Tmall and Amazon accounting for over 60% of the activity, according to research firm Digital Commerce 360.

Andrew Yates

Andrew Yates, co-founder and CEO of

Now it’s Promoted’s turn. The Bay Area company, which brings together search, feed, ads and promotions for marketplaces, announced it took in an additional $6 million in seed funding to bring its total amount raised to $8 million.

We profiled Promoted back in November 2021 when it raised that initial $2 million. The company was launched in 2020 by two former Pinterest engineers, Andrew Yates and Dan Hill, with a two-fold model: help buyers find the products on marketplaces more easily to yield repeat purchases, and provide sellers with immediate feedback about how their products appear in a search and tools to improve sales.

At the time of the first seed, the company was working with customers like SnackPass and Hipcamp, and since then, has added more, including Outschool and Teachers Pay Teachers.

“We have executed for some fantastic marketplaces and signed new, even bigger customers,” Yates told TechCrunch. “This is not just plug-in-play, we are making marketplaces more efficient. In November, we were sharing single-digit improvement for Hipcamp, but now that is double-digit. We are seeing bigger scales and more efficiency, and now we are doubling down with connectivity.”

For many marketplaces, those search, recommendation and ad functions are typically siloed, but Promoted has them all under one umbrella with data measured and optimized, using artificial intelligence, in real time. That provides a 360-degree view of the data so that the marketplace can predict conversion and clicks for its search and feed, Yates said.

Yates said the round closed earlier this year. It was led by Y Combinator — Promoted was part of the winter 2021 cohort — with participation from Interlace Ventures, Vela Partners and a group of angel investors, including Michael Seibel, group partner and managing director at YC.

Over the past 12 months, the company tripled its revenue, so building on that momentum, Yates intends to deploy the funding into hiring additional engineers, technology development for building out Promoted’s infrastructure, its data optimizing and measurement capabilities and putting some away in the company’s “war chest.”

Going forward, the company will focus on promotions. Some marketplaces aren’t running paid promotions, and they could be, Yates said. In addition, the company is building out a community of its marketplace customers with the ultimate goal of creating a kind of “ads networking” component where customers can pull ideas from each other.

“Lately, we’ve seen product management teams at one customer wanting to swap tips with another marketplace, so we are building a community of experts,” he added. “This allows us to enhance networking and connect people.”

Nautical Commerce sails away with new funding to bring marketplace tech to the masses

E-commerce marketplaces are big businesses. It was estimated that some $3.2 trillion was spent globally on the top marketplaces in 2021, with those like Taobao, Tmall and Amazon accounting for over 60% of the activity, according to research firm Digital Commerce 360.

With that number expected to grow 14% per year, Nautical Commerce wants to provide tools to retailers, B2B businesses and brands of any size so they can build their own multivendor marketplace, in as little as 90 days and without expensive custom software, to compete with the mega marketplaces.

Prior to starting the company in 2020, founder and CEO Ryan Lee was with Apple and helped them launch Apple Pay. He explained that marketplaces can take 2 to 3 years to get off the ground and multiple millions of dollars, depending on the site.

When building them, companies typically string together their tech stack with apps and software that were intended for that kind of business. And even companies with large development teams and budgets have failed at launching or scaling a marketplace.

“We bring together all the stakeholders, like vendors, sellers, drop-shippers, affiliates, channels, and influencers without needing to replatform,” Lee told TechCrunch. “This makes marketplaces a very viable decision economically because it’s now approachable. We also do it in a phased approach to de-risk the project and make sure that we have very clear milestones to deliver economic value as fast as possible.”

As we learned this week with Shop Circle’s fundraise and others, like Upgrade, Fashinza and Faire, the number of companies providing e-commerce infrastructure exploded over the past 2 years as everyone did more shopping online.

Nautical Commerce multi-vendor marketplace

Nautical Commerce’s multivendor marketplace dashboard Image Credits: Nautical Commerce

Though Lee would not disclose revenue figures, he said Nautical grew significantly over the past 6 months, going from zero revenue “to a very specific number.” It also added new customers internationally that span industry verticals like fashion, health, automotive, home goods, sustainable goods and manufacturing.

Then came the investor interest. Earlier this year, London & Partners and reported that $51 billion of venture capital was invested into U.S. digital shopping companies in 2021, up from $23 billion in 2020. Globally, that was $140 billion last year compared with $68 billion the year prior.

Nautical Commerce is also now buoyed by $30 million in a new Series A investment, and the company plans to use the funds on technology development and to expand into new markets. It will also grow its engineering, product, customer success and sales and marketing teams, planning to add at least 40 new employees over the next 18 months.

The round, which gives the company about $33.2 million in total funding, was led by Drive Capital, with participation from Accomplice Ventures and Golden Ventures.

Next up, the company will continue onboarding the pipeline of about 30 new marketplaces and creating awareness in industries that Nautical wants to focus on and help digitize, Lee said.

As part of the investment, Drive’s Masha Khusid joins the Nautical board of directors.

“E-commerce is becoming more distributed and single-vendor platforms were not built for this multi-vendor future,” Khusid said in a statement. “Ryan and his team built the only multi-vendor e-commerce platform and are serving a huge need in the market. We’re impressed by what Nautical has already accomplished and are proud to enable them to deliver on their mission to democratize marketplace technology.”

Agrotools farming for M&A with new $21M funding round

Agrotools, a Brazilian-based technology and intelligence company for agribusiness, raised $21 million (BRL 100 million) to value the company at around $94 million, according to the company.

Investors in the round include Horácio Lafer Piva (Klabin), Pedro Paulo Campos (JP Morgan, Pátria and Arsenal), Fátima Marques (Hay Group/Korn Ferry), Paulo Hegler (Toledo), Olivier Murguet (Nissan-Renault), KPTL and FIP Inovabra and Ronaldo Galvani Jr.

Agrotools provides remote analyses to agriculture customers for the management of operational risks and opportunities, focused on rural territories. That includes analyzing over 1,300 layers of data from multiple sources to provide information on what is happening with suppliers and customers across a certain rural territory to bring about competition and environmental, social and governance factors compliance. Its offerings include granting financial resources and rural insurance to the purchase of raw materials and sale of inputs, capital markets and retail.

Brazil’s agriculture sector is a $24 billion industry and Agrotools said it has analyzed over 4.5 million rural territories to date and monitors over $3 billion in commodities through its platform. It also boasts over $10 billion in rural finance portfolios supported by at least one of its offerings and approximately $20 billion in monitored agribusiness operations.

Sergio Rocha, CEO of Agrotools, said via email the company grew 16 times in the last six years, including tripling in size during the pandemic. The funding will be deployed into areas including expanding its business in the U.S., Latin America and other regions and technology development like artificial intelligence, blockchain, gamification, technology democratization and satellite data sources.

It will also be utilized for strategic partnerships and acquisitions. The company has already partnered with geospatial services company ESRI, said Rafael Gomes, COO of Agrotools.

“My dream, since the beginning of Agrotools, is to change global agribusiness, bringing to it efficiency and true sustainability,” Rocha said. “In short, we want to meet the Earth’s needs to overcome the climate and food crises, using cutting-edge technology. Toward this vision, we just acquired a digital platform from Argentina to support the rural producer weather risk management and corporations risk assessment.”

clicOH’s shipping technology provides Amazon-like logistics to e-commerce companies in LatAm

E-commerce is an $85 billion business in Latin America, and as that market is poised to essentially double in three years, the current consumer demands to receive orders on time and packaged correctly will only increase.

For decades, e-commerce giants, like Amazon and MercadoLibre, have perfected the logistics and delivery technology for their marketplaces, but more recently, startups have developed similar technology to enable any sized e-commerce business to have equal footing.

Argentina-based clicOH is the latest shipping technology company attracting venture capital funding, raising $25 million in Series A funding in a round led by Tiger Global. Joining them is JAM Fund and existing investors Flexport, FundersClub and Vast VC. The latest investment gives the company a total of $33 million in funding since it was started in 2018 by Juan Martin Altamirano, Emiliano Segura and Agustin Novillo Saravia.

ClicOH, a 2021 Y Combinator alum, operates in Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay, and its proprietary technology enables sellers to track shipments in real time via a dashboard with key indicators and traceability.

CEO Novillo Saravia told TechCrunch via email that Latin America “was not prepared in terms of infrastructure for the post-pandemic surge in e-commerce,” namely an e-commerce penetration that jumped five to 10 years in a matter of 10 months.

As a result, e-commerce continues to be underpenetrated in the region — just 5% of retail sales were made online in 2021 — despite LatAm being one of the fastest growing regions in the world. That was one of the big drivers for the company to go after additional funding, he said.

“The logistics for e-commerce is a problem that can only be solved with data and efficiency,” he added. “Our asset light model allows us to penetrate 100% of the countries in which we operate, to understand the consumer behaviors to store the inventory very close to the demand and speed up our shipping times.”

That demand has enabled clicOH to grow quickly since launching its current business model in 2020. The company delivers a package every 20 seconds and services customers of all sizes from AB inBev and Red Bull to small Shopify merchants.

So far this year, the number of packages clicOH processes monthly is growing at around 30% and revenue in the first quarter was six times over the same period in 2021, Novillo Saravia said. A year ago, the company had 40 employees, and that has now grown to 175.

ClicOH is among a number of startups raising funding as they develop e-commerce infrastructure to grab a piece of this burgeoning market in Latin America. For example, 99minutos raised an $82 million Series C round in March for its route optimization and pick-up and drop-off offerings, Cubbo brought in a small seed round in November to transform city spaces into fulfillment centers for rapid delivery and Skydropx is developing a delivery system with hundreds of customizable shipping options.

Novillo Saravia intends to use the new capital to continue clicOH’s expansion throughout Latin America, including entering Colombia, on technology development and expanding its logistics network.

“We’re excited to expand into Colombia and are identifying additional regions throughout LatAm,” he added. “We are also developing a whole ecosystem where e-commerce merchants can grow sustainable businesses, including new products aimed at strengthening partnerships with sellers under development.”

Bosch picks up after the self-driving startup pivoted to B2B and then put itself up for sale

Consolidation is moving ahead in the world of autonomous driving, with the latest development coming out of Europe. Today, Bosch announced that it would be acquiring, the autonomous driving startup that started with big ambitions to build and operate its own fleet of robotaxis but ultimately pivoted to focusing on technology development as a B2B play.

Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, the companies said, but Five had been looking for a buyer and Bosch said that it secured the deal by beating out “other takeover bidders.” It will be picking up not just IP from Five, but also some 140 employees in the U.K. Bosch noted that the acquisition is still pending approval by regulators, specifically antitrust authorities.

Five had raised around $78 million in funding, and according to PitchBook data was last valued at $216 million in its last round, a $41 million investment in March 2020 that coincided with the company’s B2B pivot.

Five’s investors were a mix of strategic and financial backers that included the insurance giant Direct Line, the UK government and VCs like Notion and Lakestar… but also Sistema, the Russian investment giant that is listed in London and has been feeling the effects of the sanctions on its home country: most recently it said it might have to de-list from the LSE because of a law that Russia looks prepared to pass requiring Russian companies to terminate their foreign depository programs.

“Bosch intends to acquire all of the shares in Five and we are of course complying and will continue to comply with all legal and statutory requirements, including sanctions,” a spokesperson said when asked about Sistema’s minority stake in Five. From what we understand, if required due to sanctions, Bosch would put funds into a holding account if needed.

Bosch itself has been long on self-driving car technology, although like many, its stated ambitions — it is a major OEM and supplier to the automotive industry and forged a partnership with Daimler in 2017 where it promised fully autonomous vehicles in five years (which would be… 2022) — have been outstripped by self-driving reality. That was a hard truth for Five, too.

“A year and a bit ago we thought we would probably build the entire thing and take it to market as a whole system,” co-founder and CEO Stan Boland told me back in 2020. “But we gradually realized just how deep and complex that would be. It was probably through 2019 that we realized that the right thing to do is to focus in on the key pieces.”

All told, Five had been very quiet in recent times: it last updated its news feed with a partnership with another autonomous tech startup, Cognata, in January 2021, over a year ago; and its last blog post on Medium, on agile working, was in June 2021.

Just as Five had been focused on a pivot to software, Bosch has already been a very active player in that market and how it relates to autonomous systems and other next-generation software and hardware, but it has also been investing in autonomous vehicle companies, too: it’s part of the list of strategic backers of Momenta in China.

“Automated driving is set to make road traffic safer. We want Five to give an extra boost to our work in software development for safe automated driving, and offer our customers European-made technology,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector. Headquartered in Cambridge, U.K., Five is to be part of the Bosch Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division.

“Scale matters in building automated driving technology. Bosch is a global leader in driving assistance technologies, with core technologies and vast data lakes that will be essential in bringing safe self-driving systems to market. We’re excited for Five to become part of Europe’s most powerful SAE Level 4 player and to be a part of Bosch’s future success,” added Stan Boland in a statement in today’s announcement.

The deal comes amid a number of other M&A plays in the world autononous vehicles, including Magna acquiring the assets of Optimus Ride; GM buying out SoftBank’s stake in Cruise; VW reportedly looking to buy out Huawei’s autonomous driving unit; Lidar specialist Luminar buying Freedom Photonics; and more.

Updated with comment from Bosch regarding Sistema’s shareholding in Five.

Choco gets its horn amid mission to remove food waste from supply chain

Choco, a company aimed at building a more sustainable food system for restaurants and suppliers, brought in another big raise — this time $111 million in what it’s calling a Series B2 round — to boost its valuation to $1.2 billion.

The new investment, an internal round led by G Squared alongside Insight Partners, comes just six months after Berlin-based Choco took in $100 million in a Series B round, led by Left Lane Capital, to give the company a post-market valuation of $600 million.

If you’ve been keeping up with us, we’ve covered a number of Choco’s funding rounds over the years, including a $63.7 million Series A that was raised at two different periods, a $33.5 million round in 2019 and a $30.2 million round in 2020 — at a $230 million valuation — to bring total funding to $282.5 million since the company was founded in 2018.

The company is going after a $6 trillion food service industry that traditionally does business via spreadsheets or pen and paper. It developed software that digitizes ordering, supply chain and communications for suppliers and restaurants to give back some of that time.

“We have been lucky with our growth and lucky in a very large space where we can grow fast without much blocking us,” Choco CEO Daniel Khachab told TechCrunch. “When our investors offered additional funds, we said, ‘let’s go for it’ to be able to speed up, invest in our product, customer service and training of the team.”

Choco also collects data in real time so that suppliers can more accurately balance supply and demand so less food is wasted before it reaches the consumer. Its aim is to “completely digitize the food wholesale market across the globe by 2026 on behalf of zero food waste.”

The company is not alone in going after food waste. For example, grocery app Flashfood raised $12.3 million to tackle retail food waste, and Full Harvest raised $23 million to find endpoints for imperfect produce.

Meanwhile, Choco is active in the U.S., Germany, France, Spain, Austria and Belgium, and experienced 350% growth in users over the past year. And as of February, the total value of goods traded through Choco exceeded $1.2 billion, and it is working with around 15,000 restaurant customers and 16,000 on the supply side.

Khachab intends to use the new funding on product and technology development, support the company’s growth in the U.S. and Europe, and to expand into additional markets. He also plans to increase the company’s employee headcount from its current 400 to between 600 and 700 by the end of the year.

Some of the new features in beta include financial services capabilities that will have Choco assuming the risk for suppliers by acting as the money collection agency for them so they get paid within 24 hours, while enabling restaurants to have more time to pay.

“We want to cover the whole U.S. and European food system,” Khachab added. “The main focus for the next 36 months will be building value-based software for suppliers, who are dealing with margin and price pressures, and it is hard for them to collect money. They are going to become our main customer at this point.”

Archie aims to remove the complexity of managing freelancers

As more people moved to remote work over the past few years, there was also an uptick in people choosing freelance or contract work, leaving companies to figure out how to manage that worker segment.

If you are one of those having to find work and manage payments, tax filings and invoices, there’s help from a number of startups — for example, AfriBlocks, Malt, Worksome, Meaningful Gigs, SteadyPay and Contra — that have developed different approaches to making this easier.

The latest to receive funding to continue developing its financial infrastructure for the freelance economy is Archie, which raised $4.5 million in funding from B Capital Group, Mac Ventures, Worklife Ventures, Hof VC, Dash Fund, Day One Ventures, Behance founder Scott Belsky and other company founders from the likes of Cameo, Blank Street, Ramp, BloomTech and Eight Sleep.

Co-founders Yunas Reguero, Cassandra Aaron and Dylan Hattem started Archie last April and officially launched three months later. What they’ve developed is a collaboration hub for businesses to find and hire freelancers and then manage all that comes with it — onboarding, contracts, payments, accounting and tax filings — with the ability to pay freelancers in one click.

Archie, Cassandra Aaron, Yunas Reguero

Archie co-founders Cassandra Aaron and Yunas Reguero. Image Credits: Archie

Aaron and Reguero, who have been friends for years, saw the trend of over half of the working population shifting to freelance, with that number likely to surpass 90 million by 2028. Despite that opportunity, they thought freelancers still lacked access to financial services and were at the mercy of companies treating them like vendors and paying them in 30 days or longer for completed work.

“We are on a mission to ‘unfuck’ the freelance economy,” she told TechCrunch. Aaron estimates that Archie is saving its customers hours of time that they can now use to focus on growth-related opportunities.

Their approach is catching on. Since last April, Archie is seeing $15 million in payment volume run-rate, up eight times since July 2021 alone. In addition, their growth is driven in large part by word of mouth — freelancers taking Archie with them to new employers as their preferred method of doing business with clients.

The new funding enables the company to boost its engineering team and technology development as it starts to amp up its efforts on the growth side, Reguero said.

Their plan going forward includes leveraging its structured knowledge about payments to underwrite products and build additional financial services for freelancers, including banking, savings, credit and income verification.

“We will continue to focus on growth, building out different layers of the platform,” Reguero added. “That includes providing ways for contracts and other forms to get signed before someone comes on, as well as investing in international payments so businesses have the ability to pay contractors in other countries. Ultimately, we want to make this as seamless as possible.”

Astronomer ready for its next mission after Datakin acquisition, $213M Series C

Astronomer has grown quite a lot since we briefly profiled the company back in 2017.

At that time, the scrappy data analytics company had scooped up $3.5 million in funding to develop its tool for what happens after you’ve collected a bunch of data, namely assembling and organizing it so the data can be analyzed.

The company began developing its modern data orchestration tools, powered by Apache Airflow, an open source platform for data engineering pipelines, that enables users to build, run and observe pipelines-as-code, and started driving that project in 2018.

For those not sure what data orchestration is, Astronomer CEO Joe Otto explained that it is like the connective tissue of a muscle: as more and more data services are being launched, there has to be something connecting it all, and data orchestration is the control plane.

Today, Airflow is used across hundreds of thousands of data teams and 8 million monthly downloads, up from 180,000 in 2018. Astronomer now represents 16 of the top 25 all-time contributors to Airflow.

Astronomer, data orchestration

Image Credits: Astonomer

And, the company is not so scrappy anymore. Astronomer has grown its employee headcount 10 times in the past two years to more than 250 global employees, and now has hubs in Cincinnati, New York, San Francisco and San Jose.

Otto didn’t go into specifics about other growth metrics, but did say that the company was just getting started and that he expects 2022 to be the year that Astronomer grows its base considerably.

“For the last couple of years, we focused on Airflow and working with the people who created it,” he added. “Now we are working with them to take Airflow to the next level. We’ve learned how companies are using it, and we are getting ready to launch a product and start scaling field teams, so there is a big opportunity out there.”

The closing of $213 million in Series C funding is giving what Otto called “enough of a cash cushion” for Astronomer to advance some of its strategic plans.

One of those included the acquisition of Datakin, the data operations tool from the founders of the OpenLineage and Marquez open source projects.

In discussing Datakin joining Astronomer, Otto said Datakin was building a data lineage product and was deep in the open source community, too. In addition to having that in common, he noted that as an orchestrator building and managing pipelines, if you don’t have access to the data, then the lineage doesn’t understand the data end-to-end.

“The combination of us two would be the next development for the modern data platform,” he added. “We thought, ‘Why not jointly make the decision to be together?’”

Insight Ventures led the latest round of funding and was joined by Meritech Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Venrock and Sierra Ventures. It gives Astronomer about $300 million in total funding to date.

In addition to the acquisition, the company intends to use the new capital to grow its engineering and customer success teams, technology development and scale its go-to-market operations.

“As the modern data stack has arrived at scale, we now need an orchestration experience to support today’s sophisticated, high-velocity data pipelines. Apache Airflow, driven by the Astronomer team, has become the generational platform for modern orchestration,” said George Mathew, managing director at Insight Partners, in a written statement.

Echoing Mathew’s statement, Otto said that Airflow’s large and broad footprint makes it easy for Astronomer to focus on picking it up and taking it to the next level, which is a natural extension to what the company has already been doing.

Otto believes that orchestration is going to be the core of all distributed data services, especially with Airflow being the “de facto tool for data engineers.”

“You can measure us on the basis of building around Airflow and where we can add more value, and we are excited with what we are anticipating,” he added.

Novoloop says it’s worked out how to upcycle plastic waste, raises $11M Series A

Upcycling polyethylene (the normal ubiquitous plastic we are all familiar with) into high-value plastics that can compete with “virgin” plastic (meaning plastics made directly from petro-chemicals) is a fiendish problem to solve. The fact that it’s been extremely hard to do so means billions of tonnes of plastic is never recycled, and it’s out there pouting the planet and our oceans. A new US-based startup, Novoloop, claims to have come up with an answer.

The two female founder scientists, Jeanny Yao and Miranda Wang have been working for over five years on this problem.

They have now raised $11 million in a Series A financing led by Envisioning Partners with participation from Valo Ventures and Bemis Associates; earlier investors who joined the round included SOSV, Mistletoe, and TIME Ventures. Novoloop is also partnering with Bemis Associates, which makes apparel bonding solutions such as seam tapes, which can be found in high-performance outerwear.

Novoloop is setting out to transform plastic waste into high-performance chemicals and materials. The company says it has developed a proprietary process technology it calls ATOD™ (Accelerated Thermal Oxidative Decomposition). It claims that this breaks down polyethylene (the most widely used plastic today) into chemical building blocks that can be synthesized into high-value products.

The first product will be Oistre™, a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) for use in footwear, apparel, sporting goods, automotive, and electronics. Novoloop claims this has a carbon footprint that is up to 46% smaller than conventional TPUs.

Novoloop Co-founder and CEO Miranda Wang said in a statement: “Plastics are not going away anytime soon, so we need to innovate to close the gap between what is produced and what is repurposed. After years of technology development, we’re thrilled to announce backing by high-caliber investors and partners to commercialize this much-needed technology.”

“What really compelled us to lead the investment round is that Novoloop has found product-market fit,” said June Cha, Partner of Envisioning Partners. “Novoloop has proven that Oistre has a wide range of applications in the market even at their early stage.”

Speaking to me over a call, Wang added: “Polyethylene plastic is the most common packaging used but is extremely hard to chemically change and break apart and turn into useful things. We cracked this by essentially adopting a new chemical approach to oxidise this polyethylene.”

“Everybody else is turning this plastic waste polyethylene into fossil fuel reserves. But for us, our approach is to directly take the polyethylene waste and convert it in one step… So this essentially bypasses many steps and chemistries that would otherwise happen if people were to take it back into oil or into gas,” she said.

Competitors to Novoloop would include BASF, Covestro, Lubrizol, Huntsman. These are companies that make virgin fossil fuel-based TPU. About 99% of TPUs are virgin today. In other words, this is a giant industry ready for disruption.

a16z, Monashees lead new round into inventory discovery startup Inventa

Inventa, a Brazil-based company offering a digital marketplace for small and medium-sized companies to discover and purchase new inventory, raised $20 million in Series A funding.

Andreessen Horowitz and Monashees co-led the round and were joined by Founders Fund, Greenoaks, Greylock, Tiger Global and angel investors Hans Tung and Carlos Gracia from Kavak. Also participating in the round were existing investors Pear VC, NXTP, ONEVC, MAYA Capital and Alter Global.

This fresh infusion of capital comes three months after the company announced $5.5 million in seed funding. And all of that for a company that started in March 2021.

CEO Marcos Salama founded the company with former General Atlantic investor Laura Camargo and former McKinsey data science expert Fernando Carrasco to provide technology, data and credit to Brazilian entrepreneurs.

Salama, who is from Spain, has a background in mechanical engineering and has worked for both McKinsey and Rappi, which is how he made his way to Brazil. While leading Rappi’s groceries business, he worked with retailers and saw how small stores were struggling to access an assortment of goods and credit.

Inventa uses technology to provide an easier purchasing process for small businesses. Inventa’s online platform recommends products based on actual transaction data and provides credit, in 30-, 60- and 90-day increments, to retailers. There is also a supplier side, where they can upload products, manage pricing and see what is selling and what isn’t.

One of the drivers for going after additional funding so soon was that Inventa is growing at over 100% month over month.

“There are 5 million entrepreneurs who have small stores in Brazil that Inventa is targeting,” Salama said. “Our B2B marketplace connects brands and small retailers to help them with assortment in the areas of cosmetics, healthy food and home decor. They can also see what is trending, which makes recommendations more useful.”

The company offers over 7,000 products from 400 brands and has amassed more than 20,000 customers.

The new funding will enable Inventa to invest in its technology team — much of its 100-person workforce is in engineering — and to build its sales and marketing teams. Salama expects to grow massively in the employee area with a goal of adding another 400 people in the next few years.

He also plans to grow its brands to 10,000 as Inventa goes deeper into the cosmetics, healthy foods and home decor verticals. In addition, the company will focus on its technology development so that it can eventually offer a free software product for small suppliers and retailers.

“Amazon, MercadoLibre and Rappi are catering to the business-to-consumer world, but in B2B, there are much less companies targeting this market,” Salama said. “It is large, but there are no solutions, so we are ready to serve them.”