Five-month-old startup TradeSquare secures $2.5 million for marketplace connecting businesses with vendors

TradeSquare founder and chief Einat Sukenik

TradeSquare founder and chief Einat Sukenik. Source: supplied.

At just five months old, and having grown out of the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B wholesale marketplace startup TradeSquare has raised $2.5 million ahead of its launch later this week.

Headed up by serial founder Einat Sukenik, TradeSquare is a B2B marketplace designed to reduce the friction in communication between small businesses and wholesale suppliers, and to open up wholesale products and prices to small business owners who wouldn’t usually be able to access them.

Businesses gain access to a bigger range of products at wholesale prices. And it’s not only applicable to smaller retailers, Sukenik tells SmartCompany.

And the system isn’t only for retail stockists. It could also offer a childcare centre, for example, easy and affordable access to books, nappies or arts and crafts.

At the same time, it allows wholesalers — not known for being tech-savvy — to reach a whole new set of customers.

“We open, for wholesalers, a really great opportunity to support small businesses,” Sukenik says.

“We are doing the heavy lifting.”

And, many of these wholesalers are small businesses and small manufacturers themselves, the founder notes. Through TradeSquare they get visibility among more prospective stockists.

The $2.5 million comes via a convertible note funding round, and from a consortium of angel investors.

Sukenik doesn’t name any of the backers, but she does reveal they’re all in the e-commerce space, knowledgeable about this sector.

They’re also “really passionate about what we’re doing”, she says.

“It’s hard to raise funding,” she adds.

“To get this trust, I feel humbled and very excited.”

Founded back in April, TradeSquare already has some 27 employees, in addition to onboarding 200 wholesalers, 70,000 products and more than 1,000 small business purchasers.

And that’s only through the beta trial, ahead of the full product launch on October 1.

The founder has also secured a partnership with buy-now-pay-later fintech Zip, allowing TradeSquare to offer 60-day interest-free financing through the marketplace.

“We have a lot of partnerships and a lot of surprises on the way,” she says.

“It’s not just about technology, we’re actually creating a whole ecosystem.”

An economic boost

For Sukenik, connecting Aussie businesses with each other creates “a really strong story” for the economy more broadly, particularly as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

Once upon a time, a town’s trading square would be a place for local businesses to make lasting connections and interact, she explains.

“It’s just a piece of ground. But suddenly when you make it a place for people to speak, to interact, to create a long relationship, that’s where the magic happens,” she says.

TradeSquare is just a tech version of that, allowing for interaction and value creation.

“We are really supporting local businesses in unprecedented times, and it’s more important than ever,” she adds.

“Our mission is to empower communities and enable them to thrive,” she adds.

“Big vision”

Now TradeSquare has $2.5 million in its pocket, Sukenik and her team will first and foremost focus on the technology, making sure the platform meets the complex requirements of the B2B market.

“We need to imitate offline behaviour online,” she explains.

It’s about customer experience, and imitating customer experience and real-life, seamless interaction.

The funding will also be used for investment in marketing, and bringing more small businesses on board.

But, this is just the beginning for TradeSquare.

Sukenik has a “big vision” for the business, she says.

Over the next six to 12 months, the team will be focusing on making connections and partnerships, and finessing the product for its partners both on the buy and sell sides.

“If we’re thinking big, we need to be thinking about the ecosystem and listening to their needs,” she notes.

But, in a B2B marketplace, there are other services technology could potentially provide. The platform has potential for facilitating negotiation, for example, or to create integration with other platforms or tools.

“This is not the work of five or six months in order to really create our vision,” she says.

When asked whether she thinks TradeSquare could become a household name, at least among the business community, Sukenik says it’s certainly a possibility.

“We’re solving a big problem here,” she says.

“There is no one wholesale platform that supports Australian businesses, currently.”

She points to the likes of Amazon and eBay, which have been hugely successful in the B2C marketplace space.

But, Sukenik is more focused on solving the problem than on building a big tech business, she says.

“It’s about creating a big impact on the Australian economy,” she adds.

“Creating a big tech company is only an enabler.”

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