Next-gen e-commerce startup Carted bags $13 million in seed funding, as co-founder Holly Cardew predicts the future of retail

Carted co-founders Mike Angell and Holly Cardew. Source: supplied.

Aussie startup Carted has secured a massive $13 million in seed funding, to build out its next-generation universal e-commerce API. And these founders have global domination in their sights.

Carted was founded by Holly Cardew, who also founded image-editing-for-e-commerce startup Pixc; and Mike Angell, who has worked as an engineer at Shopify and was previously chief operating officer at Culture Kings.

These are founders with deep e-commerce experience, and an acute awareness of the challenges facing online retailers.

In March last year, Cardew and Angell started working together to build Vop, a tool making TikTok feeds ‘shoppable’ for both brands and influencers.

But Vop was still redirecting users away from the content and to an online checkout. So the pair started working on building a multi-merchant checkout solution.

“Then we realised we weren’t the only ones who needed this,” Cardew tells SmartCompany.

In November last year, Carted was born, with the co-founders starting to build what Cardew calls a “universal commerce API”, which will allow people to take an online community or content platform and effectively turn it into an online store.

And now, the recent $13 million funding round features an array of big-name Aussie investors. It was led by Aussie VC Blackbird Ventures, and also included Grok Ventures — the investment firm of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes — as well as Tidal Ventures.

US-based investors Streamlined Ventures and Lightspeed Ventures also took part, the latter through its angel scout fund.

They join an already impressive lineup of backers, including co-founder of Google Drive David Wurtz, Honey co-founder Ryan Hudson and TEN13, the investment syndicate of Aussie entrepreneur Steve Baxter.

Next-gen e-commerce

This funding news comes off the back of 12 months of wild growth in the e-commerce sector. The COVID-19 pandemic saw more people shopping online for the first time, and more businesses launching e-commerce strategies.

That’s led to success for tech companies making online sales possible, and to those in the adjacent payments sector.

Cardew sees Carted as a representation of the next generation of e-commerce tech.

Consumers want to be able to purchase products where they see them, without the friction.

“If anything, we’re still quite behind.”

Just this week, she was shopping for furniture online and wondering why she couldn’t speak to a sales rep via Zoom, she notes.

“Contextual shopping is going to be a bigger thing,” she says.

But, equally, that should be accessible to all small businesses. Or anyone marketing any product, for that matter.

“You should be able to build your own commerce experience without having to build an integration with every brand or merchant or influencer.”

Building the future

It’s a significant chunk of capital for a seed funding round. But Cardew says it reflects the size of the opportunity here.

The founders have a lengthy waitlist of prospective customers already, she says, including Fortune 500 companies who want to use the technology.

The funding will allow the co-founders to be able to act on their vision and grow quickly — something that’s crucial in the fast-moving e-commerce industry.

The product is US-focused at the moment, Cardew adds. But the vision has been global from day one. All of that takes people-power, money, and expert investors.

“When you have millions of merchants and you power billions of products, it’s not something that can be done over a couple of weekends with an engineer,” she says.

This isn’t Cardew’s first rodeo, but she’s taking a different approach to growing Carted, compared to Pixc.

Pixc was bootstrapped for the most part, and is still growing organically.

But bootstrapping means the pace of growth is a little slower and more measured, because you have to work within the resources you have.

Taking on venture funding means “we can grow as fast as we want”, she explains.

“We’ve been told: ‘here are the resources, build what you think is the future’,” she adds.

“That’s super exciting.”

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