E-commerce startup Little Birdie has bagged $30 million in pre-launch funding from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in a partnership set to “supercharge” its growth.
The bank has acquired a 23% stake in the business, bringing Little Birdie’s valuation to $130 million, before it even has a live product.
Little Birdie is now headed up by co-founder and chief Jon Beros — once a general manager at Catch Group. The Leibovich brothers retain a 10% stake in the business.
The platform is designed to be a ‘homepage’ for online shopping, offering users access to some 70 million products and allowing them to search, track and compare pricing from different stores and brands.
Even pre-COVID-19, the founders had observed a mass shift to online retail, and an increasingly crowded landscape in Australia, Beros tells SmartCompany.
The pandemic, and the surge in e-commerce activity that came with it, simply validated their hypothesis. Already more than 1,000 retailers have signed up, he says.
The founders set out to create a better way for consumers to access online shopping “without the clutter”, he explains, while also giving retailers another marketing channel.
Once the consumer finds what they’re after, they’re directed back to the retailer’s online store, meaning the retailers make the transaction and get the customer data, Beros explains.
The startup will then charge a commission on successful transactions.
And Beros says there’s no specific type of business the platform is tailored for.
“It’s really focused on people with an online presence,” he says.
That means if small retailers want to get involved, they absolutely can.
“We want it to become a place where as many retailers as we can — nearly all retailers — are featured.”
“It will supercharge our growth”
The funding will allow the team to build out the business and get up and running more quickly.
But for Beros, the raise is less about the cash in the bank, and more about the strategic partnership with CBA.
The investment will also see CBA integrating Little Birdie’s shopping content into its mobile app.
For the bank, that’s added value for its customers. For the startup, it means instant access to some 11 million Aussie consumers.
Accessing the bank’s customer pool will encourage more retailers to join the platform, which will in turn attract more consumers, Beros explains.
“It will supercharge our growth.”
In the long term, Beros has plans to take Little Birdie international.
But the focus for the next six months will be on the Australian market. The online retail market is fairly fragmented here, and retailers are looking for new ways to attract more customers, he says.
“Australia is home ground, we want to get up and establish ourselves here before we expand.”