Smart50 finalist sells his business to a Chinese e-commerce giant for $6 million – here’s how he did it

Smart50 finalist sells his business to a Chinese e-commerce giant for $6 million – here’s how he did it

Smart50 finalist Amblique is set to be taken over by Chinese e-commerce giant eCargo for $6 million, with founder and strategy director Justus Wilde crediting many years of “blood, sweat and tears” for the success of the business.

An Australian e-commerce provider, Amblique has been a common fixture of SmartCompany’s Smart50 awards over the years.

Amblique counts big name retailers and brands such as Cotton On, Michael Hill International, Sportscraft, Matt Blatt and Tarocash among its clients, boasting a 15-year track record of profitability. It currently employs 50 staff in Sydney, along with a development team of 12, based in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Under the deal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of eCargo Holdings called eCargo Enterprise will acquire 100% of the issued share capital of Amblique for $6 million, which is to be fully-funded by Cargo’s existing cash reserves.

Wilde told SmartCompany his company is the product of countless years of blood, sweat and tears.

“I founded Amblique in November 1999, initially as a generalist digital agency, and began building websites for retailers and brands, and then software (an e-commerce platform) to sell products online,” Wilde says.

“We supported that for 10 years and built a strong portfolio of retailers and brands, before implementing one of the big four e-commerce solutions – known as Demandware – as its reseller and implementer in this part of the world.”

“Now we’re looking to expand further. We already support Michael Hill and Cotton On overseas, but out main rationale is to support our customers expand into China.”

According to Wilde, the e-commerce market in China is expected to be larger than the next five markets by 2020, representing a huge opportunity for Australian businesses.

Under the deal the current management team, including Wilde and Amblique managing director Jason Byrne, will remain in place.

Wilde says despite the deal, he doesn’t see himself as exiting the business at Amblique.

Instead, he points out that by leveraging eCargo’s global warehousing and logistics platform, Amblique will be able to offer end-to-end e-commerce solutions as well as access to international markets.

“For us, it’s not really exiting. We’re going to leverage eCargo as a platform for growth, and it’s an opportunity for the founders to become a key part of a listed company,” he says.

Wilde cites Amblique’s strong local client list as a key strategic reason for eCargo to be interested in the purchase. His advice for other businesses looking to sell to a larger partner is to figure out how their business can be of strategic value to a larger entity.

“If you’re looking to become part of a big entity, build your business in a way that you can build strategic value for a partner. That way, it’s a purchase for capabilities rather than for scale,” he says.

In a statement, eCargo chief executive Christopher Lau praised the work Wilde and Byrne had done in building the company.

“Justus and Jason have built a great organisation serving many well-known retail and fashion brands in Australia and helping these brands develop and expand their online sales. Amblique bring a strong Australian-based team to enhance our ability to deliver eCommerce enterprise solutions to our brand principals in the region. We are very pleased to have Justus, Jason and the Amblique team become a part of our ecosystem at eCargo,” Lau said.

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