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Snapcommerce raises $85M to make over your mobile shopping experience


Snapcommerce raises $85M to make over your mobile shopping experience – TechCrunch

People are not only shopping digitally more than ever, they’re also shopping using their mobile phones more than ever.

And for mobile-first companies like Snapcommerce, this is good news.

Snapcommerce, formerly known as SnapTravel, has raised $85 million in what the company is describing as a “Pre-IPO” growth round to help further its mission of “changing the way people shop on their phones.”

The Toronto, Ontario-based startup has built out an AI-driven, vertical-agnostic platform that uses messaging in an effort to personalize the mobile shopping experience and “deliver the best promotional prices.” While it was initially focused on the travel industry, the company is now branching out into other consumer verticals — hence its name change.

Inovia Capital and Lion Capital co-led the new growth round, which included participation from Acrew DCF, Thayer Ventures and Full In Partners, as well as existing backers Telstra Ventures and Bee Partners. The financing brings Snapcommerce’s total raised since its 2016 inception to over $100 million. Its last raise — a $7.2 million round from Telstra and NBA star Steph Curry — took place in 2019.

The startup was founded by tech entrepreneurs Hussein Fazal, whose prior company AdParlor grew to $100+ million in revenue, then sold to AdKnowledge back in 2011; and Henry Shi, who previously built uMentioned and worked at Google, where he helped launch YouTube Music Insights, according to previous TechCrunch reporting.

Snapcommerce co-founders Henry Shi and Hussein Fazal. Image courtesy of Snapcommerce

Snapcommerce launched its first, travel-focused product in 2017. It works by using chatbots to interact with customers via messaging apps such as SMS, Facebook and WhatsApp. But the company also has human agents ready to help if people need more assistance, in the past essentially serving as on-demand travel agents.

Its service is not just for hotels and flights, but also to help people book restaurants and activities too.

“Our focus has been on building that personal relationship,” Fazal said. “Many people end up coming back to us when they travel again.” In fact, over 40% of its sales in 2020 came from repeat customers.

Over the years, the company claims to have helped more than 10 million users globally save over $75 million. It expects to cross over $1 billion in total mobile sales this year.

And now it’s ready to branch out into helping consumers save money on goods.

“When shopping, it’s hard to find the right product and even if you do, it’s hard to find a good deal,” he said. “On a desktop, there’s ways around it. But on mobile, it’s virtually impossible.”

The company turned the corner to profitability three months into the pandemic in 2020, seeing a 60% spike in sales in the second half of the year compared to H2 2019, according to CEO Fazal.

It then decided to re-invest its profits to continue growing the business.

“The profitability during the pandemic gave us confidence that we could turn to profitability whenever we needed to and gave us control of our own destiny, which enabled this fundraise,” Fazal told TechCrunch. “The third quarter of 2020 ended up being our greatest quarter ever.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, naturally, only accelerated its growth as more consumers turned to mobile.

“We believe the next wave of power purchasers will be via mobile,” Fazal said. “Some of the new generation don’t even have desktops or laptops, and they spend all their time on their mobile phone and messaging. So we’re able to be at the forefront.” 

Snapcommerce has an IPO in its sights, although no specific timeline. The company did not reveal its current valuation or hard revenue figures. The company makes money by either marking up prices provided by a merchant or charging the merchant a commission.

Chris Arsenault, partner at Inovia and Snapcommerce lead investor, said his firm “tripled up” on its investment in the startup after witnessing its success in the travel space.

“Other companies out there only care about the transaction, and force consumers to look through several services to see if they got the best price, all the while telling them ‘there’s only two seats left,’ ” he told TechCrunch. “We believe that consumers aren’t going to accept that type of pressure-selling in the future. And Snapcommerce’s ability to build trust with its customers and service providers has attracted us to them as they are defining what the future of commerce is going to be like.”

Ultimately, the company plans to use its fresh capital to continue to scale with the goal of streamlining the entire mobile search, purchase and fulfillment process and make finding “the right item at the right price as easy as sending a message to a trusted friend.”


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Since InMotion Ventures, the independent investment and incubation initiative set up by Jaguar Land Rover, launched in 2016 the firm has focused on backing companies across the mobility space broadly. Its 15 active investments run the gamut from autonomous vehicles, to car insurance tech, to ride-sharing, and travel planning, but increasingly the firm is focusing its efforts on vehicle electrification and sustainable supply chains.n

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ntttAs the mobility market moves to embrace electrification, InMotion wants to make sure its portfolio is in the mix.tttttntntn

That’s evident from its most recent investment in Circulor, a company that monitors supply chains from raw material inputs to finished outputs with an eye toward sustainable sourcing.n

As an OEM nowadays itu2019s increasingly important to have increasing transparency and visibility into how all of those materials have been sourced,” said the firm’s managing director, Sebastian Peck. Circulor already has a strong footprint in the automotive industry, Peck said, and is working with a major oil company on tracing the share of recycled plastics that have come from that provider. “It has applications across any industry.”n

Jaguar Land Rover is also using Circulor’s technology to track a material that’s being used in the interior of one of the company’s vehicles, Peck said. The stealthy project hasn’t been publicly revealed yet, but the company has worked with a university and supplier to trace the material from its point of origin to the finished product.n

Sustainable supply chains aren’t the only priorities Peck laid out in a recent interview with TechCrunch.n

As the mobility market moves to embrace electrification, InMotion wants to make sure its portfolio is in the mix and Peck said it would be looking to make investments in a number of different areas around electric vehicles and batteries.n

“We have looked at a number of companies who are developing new battery chemistries. We havenu2019t made an investment yet,” Peck said. “We donu2019t have a deep enough insight into the IP portfolios of the big battery suppliers to really be able to reliably benchmark those new chemistries. We have not had enough conviction to make an investment or back a particular company. From a value chain it is two or three steps away from us. Itu2019s a space weu2019re looking at.”



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