Twitter investor joins in $20 million funding round for Bigcommerce

Early Twitter investor Mike Maples has joined US venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners in backing Sydney-based tech start-up Bigcommerce, which has secured $20 million in funding.


Founded in 2009 by Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani, Bigcommerce creates software that enables small businesses to set up their own online stores.


The platform was initially funded by $20,000 in savings and credit card debt.


Since then, Bigcommerce has opened an office in Austin, Texas, and has grown its workforce to more than 160 staff, spread between its Australian and US offices.


Clients of the Bigcommerce platform, which now powers nearly 30,000 stores, include Collette Dinnigan, Bettina Liano, Pandora Jewelers, Gibson Guitar and Layne Beachley.


Bigcommerce claims to be the fastest-growing eCommerce platform in the world, with more than 1000% growth in SaaS (software as a service) revenue since its launch.


The company confirmed today it has secured $20 million in a Series B funding round led by existing investor General Catalyst Partners and new partner Maples, of US fund Floodgate.


In addition to heading up Floodgate, which focuses on investments of $150,000 to $1 million, Maples was one of the early investors in Twitter.


The announcement comes just one year after Bigcommerce received $15 million from General Catalyst for an undisclosed stake.


While there’s still some money left over from that round, the fresh funding will be used to accelerate product development, and to significantly expand the sales and marketing teams.


Bigcommerce plans to increase its headcount by 70% over the next two years.


General Catalyst now holds a minority stake in the company. According to Machaalani, it was a good time to raise new funds because “money was abundant in the Valley”.


“We never wanted to raise money when we had run out of money. We really looked at what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go… We knew we needed some [additional] capital to do that,” Machaalani says.


Harper says it took no convincing from General Catalyst, which had been following the company’s progress, while Machaalani explains it was relatively easy to bring Maples on board.


“Mike is an Austinite – he grew up in Austin. He’s probably the best and most well known investor in Austin,” Machaalani says.


“One of our board members made the introduction and we had a really good connection. He’s got a great connection into the Valley… It also adds recognition to our brand.”


“Getting someone like Mike Maples investing into an Australian business hasn’t happened before, so we’re really excited about that.”


Harper and Machaalani say they’re keen to follow in the footsteps of fellow Australian tech start-up success story Atlassian, in the sense that they intend to keep as much talent here as possible.


But their sights are set on global expansion, flagging the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Brazil as particular areas of interest, while ramping up their presence in the US and Australia.


According to Larry Bohn, managing director of General Catalyst, Bigcommerce has “surpassed ‘start-up success story’ status”.


“When you think about how far they’ve come just in the past year – approaching $1 billion in transactions – it’s really incredible to see,” Bohn said in a statement.


“Working with Bigcommerce has certainly made us stand up and take notice of the innovation happening in Australia… We look forward to seeing the start-up community there continue to flourish, and follow Eddie and Mitch’s leads.”


Meanwhile, Maples said Bigcommerce is well placed to further leverage the $400 billion eCommerce market, which is growing at “massive” rates.


“Bigcommerce has the team and the platform to take a leadership position in a big way, and we are very excited to be involved at this stage,” Maples said in a statement.


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