With customers including Myer and Woolworths, online platform Marketplacer is on track to supercharge ecommerce. Here's everything to know about the rising star.
What is it? A platform that turns an ecommerce website into a marketplace. It’s similar to Amazon hosting third-party sellers, from whom customers can buy a product that the retailer doesn’t stock. “Marketplacer is the technology that powers that,” says co-founder Jason Wyatt. “You can plug Marketplacer in and start selling inventory you don’t own.”
Where did the idea come from? Two years after they launched BikeExchange in 2007 – “we wanted to create the carsales.com.au of the bike world” – Wyatt and co-founder Sam Salter realised that a marketplace platform was the future. The complexity associated with building online versions had been the domain of giants such as Amazon so their idea was to devise a solution to unlock marketplace ecommerce for big and small sellers alike.
What have you learnt? “One: Be ruthless in prioritising what you do – and what you don’t do. Distraction is the blocker to success. Two: Deeply understand the problem you’re trying to solve and anchor it around your customer’s needs and wants. If the problem isn’t big enough, don’t solve it. Three: Get the right people, who are talented and align with your values. Establish a great culture and incredible things will happen.”
Biggest challenge? “We didn’t have enough money – we started BikeExchange with $15,000 and didn’t raise capital for seven years so were bootstrapping from nothing. We should’ve raised money earlier and solely focused on Marketplacer earlier. We always had the idea that we could become a global technology company but we got distracted.”
Biggest breakthrough? Committing 100 per cent to Marketplacer in 2016 changed everything. “We have this relentless focus on creating one of the best technology companies in the world.” Wyatt also credits his mentors, businessmen Gerry Ryan and Peter Bartels, and says he should have got them on board much earlier. “They gave us wisdom and guidance beyond our years.”
What’s next? “We’ve launched in the United States and are scaling there. We’ve signed some incredible businesses as customers and Salesforce Ventures in San Francisco has bought into Marketplacer. It’s one of the world’s largest technology companies with thousands of customers that it’s putting us in front of every day.” Wyatt says a startup’s approach to investors should go way beyond the capital raise. “You have to get them to believe in your vision and buy into the journey of your business. You need partners who are going to be with you and follow the tide coming in and out over a long period of time.”
Need to know
Founders: Jason Wyatt and Sam Salter, both 42
First customer: 2016
Investors: To date, Marketplacer has raised more than $60 million and is expected to head for an IPO within the next year. “W23, the venture capital arm of Woolworths, bought a very small stake so now we’ve got another investment partner that can drive growth through its entire business,” says Wyatt.
Staff: About 130 employees.
Headquarters: Melbourne, with offices in Sydney and San Jose, United States.
Market valuation: “Well north of $100 million.”