A new e-commerce startup offering one-click checkout has secured what is thought to be the biggest pre-seed round ever in Aussie tech, securing $2.2 million from the likes of Blackbird, Reinventure, Ten13 and Zip founder Larry Diamond.
Instant was founded in April 2021, when co-founder Liam Millward was looking for a solution to his own problem.
At 18 years old, Millward is already a serial entrepreneur, having founded an Australia-focused travel magazine and, during the pandemic, launched an e-commerce store.
“I was seeing huge abandoned cart rates at the point people needed to enter in their payment information,” he tells SmartCompany.
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“I wanted to simplify the way my customers were shopping and checking out.”
Millward teamed up with co-founder William Gao, and the pair set about solving the problem.
Instant went live with its one-click checkout solution in November, and is already boosting conversion rates for merchants, and accounting for up to 70% of sales.
But Millward is already thinking bigger.
His mission is to “build the future of a frictionless economy”, he says. That means looking into more ways of increasing conversions for merchants, including crypto payments, buy now, pay later integrations, loyalty solutions and more.
Fuelling Instant growth
For a pre-seed stage startup, this is a significant chunk of money from a group of high-profile investors. And Millward is “pretty happy with it”, he says.
The funding will be used to fuel a growth phase for Instant. The co-founders will be building out technical, sales and marketing teams and trying to get the brand in front of as many merchants and shoppers as possible.
But it’s also about more than the cash. Securing investment from the likes of Blackbird, as well as the other funds and angel investors, is a certain validation for the business.
Having those people believe in the tech and the vision is incredibly encouraging.
They also bring a support network of mentorship and other portfolio companies to bounce ideas off of, Millward adds.
“That’s something we really value.”
An Aussie unicorn in the making
The round puts the young startup in a good position to take advantage of the opportunity at hand, Millward says.
There is significant demand for anything that reduces steps from the online payments process, he says. High rates of abandoned shopping carts pose a huge problem for e-commerce merchants, and with the COVID-19 pandemic having driven more retailers to launch online, cart abandonment is becoming a bigger problem for more businesses.
COVID-19 has also led to more people shopping on their mobile devices, Millward explains, and via platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Those shopping on their phones, however, are considerably more likely to abandon their shopping cart when asked to input their payment details.
“We see that as a huge gap and a huge opportunity,” Millward says.
All of that means Millward is optimistic about the future.
When asked whether Instant could be Australia’s next payment unicorn, there’s not a moment’s hesitation.
“Definitely,” the founder says.
Currently, the business is capturing about 70% of cart value for the business it works with.
“We’d like to capture 70% of every transaction in Australia, and eventually globally.”