BigCommerce, an eCommerce software company started in Sydney in 2003, has received $15 million in funding from a US investor, just two years after expanding to the country.
The business has given up an undisclosed stake in return for the money from VC firm General Catalyst Partners, although co-founders and co-CEOs Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper will retain a majority share.
BigCommerce allows clients to build their own online stores. The company offers 28 different online tools to help site owners market themselves, such as eCommerce applications for mobile phones and Facebook.
In 2009, BigCommerce opened up an office in Austin, Texas. The US operation handles sales, with engineering overseen from Sydney. The company has 20,000 clients and expects revenue of $20 million in the next 12 months.
Harper tells StartupSmart that the money will be used for marketing and some major hires, with BigCommerce’s workforce set to increase by around 100 to 180 by next year.
“Investors have been pursuing us for the last two years, but since we were profitable from day one, we didn’t need the funding,” he says.
“We pushed back the offers initially, but around six months ago it made sense to start returning the calls. We really wanted to claim the number one spot in the market and in the US getting funding like this is a gold star for your image.”
Harper says that the large majority of sales are in the US, although Australia will again become a focus as the business looks to expand its reach internationally.
“The US market is a bit more savvy and is about three or four years ahead (in adapting to eCommerce) than Australian companies,” he says. “(But) we are an Aussie company through and through. We have Vegemite and Tim Tams in the office here in Austin and our headquarters is still legally in Sydney.”
Following recent investments by US firms in Australian start-ups, such as 99designs and BugHerd, Harper says that the BigCommerce deal is another indication that the domestic tech scene is in good shape.
“If you look at the money that Atlassian got last year, that put the spotlight on Aussie companies for a little while,” he says.
“It’s very early days still, but I’m optimistic about how Australian start-ups are doing. I think it’s the job of companies like ours to be mentors and for Australia to do more, such as tax breaks, education and entrepreneurial activity.”