Aussie tech company Longtail UX has raised $2.25 million from Woolworth’s venture capital shop W23 and Steven Lew’s homewares empire Global Retail Brands in a deal that will see the startup pick up a bevvy of big-name clients.
The e-commerce vendor, which already helps companies such as Kogan, Adore Beauty and Gray’s Online drive Google search traffic to their websites, is enjoying a counter-cyclical surge in business as online shopping skyrockets around the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founders Will Santow and former Google employee Andreas Dzumla will use the new capital to support their international expansion. Plus, they are expected to begin servicing Woolworths’ umbrella of retail assets beyond existing client Dan Murphy’s.
“We were lucky enough that W23 was really interested from the moment we made it clear we had a little bit of extra equity to sell,” Santow tells SmartCompany.
The raise builds on a $3 million funding round led by Investec’s emerging companies fund in March; the founders were keen to sell off a bit more equity to help them cash in on favourable market conditions the world over.
Last year, the company picked up investors such as Seek co-founder Andrew Bassat and Citigroup managing director Sean Larcombe in a $2.5 million raise.
E-commerce technology was already a fast-growing market before coronavirus confined hundreds of millions of people to their homes, but now there’s a veritable gold rush underway as retailers invest in online shopping en masse.
Longtail expects to double its client base from 70 to 150 by the end of 2021, picking up much larger enterprise accounts such as Woolworths, which will help it shoot for a forecast revenue increase of 300%.
“Our clients have seen a massive increase in traffic,” Santow says.
“We’ve seen people who never used to shop online suddenly realising that’s their only and best option.”
Santow would not disclose how much the Lew family chipped into the raise, but did say W23 was the main investor.
Founded in 2013, the startup has won the support of some of Australia’s fastest-growing e-commerce entrepreneurs in recent years for its patented technology, which automates SEO keyword targeting for popular shopping terms, effectively helping e-commerce companies better connect with qualified leads.
Ingrid Maes, managing director of W23, described Longtail as a “game-changing” startup, underscoring the growing importance of e-commerce to Woolworths’ retail operations.
“Our partnership model will give the team at Longtail UX the freedom to continue doing what they do best, while offering them access to the assets we can bring to the table through the Woolworths Group to help them realise their plans faster,” Maes said in a statement.
What are those plans?
Right now, the startup has offices in North America, Europe and Japan. Santow says there are plans in the works to further expand those operations, having already scooped up many of the big accounts Down Under.
“Our plan, very much, is to keep signing up larger clients,” he says.
There are currently no plans for a public float, with Santow saying the company hopes to scale as much as possible over the next 12 months before considering future plans for the business.
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