Midtown Wholesale Startup Raises $23M in Funding as Small Businesses Shift to Online Sourcing

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By: Benyamin Davidsons

On Friday, Abound, a wholesale online startup, secured a venture-capital funding round of $22.9 million.

The Midtown Manhattan-based company, launched in October 2019, connects independent product-makers with small businesses such as boutiques or gift shops to buy and resell their products in the US and UK.  As reported by Crain’s NY, this is the first venture investment round for Abound.  The startup has 30 employees, who are currently operating remotely. Before the pandemic hit, the company was operating out of a WeWork location near Bryant Park.  The wholesale marketplace seeks to help independent retailers find and stock unique products.  Abound says it will use the money to expand the platform which has added 15,000 buyers and sellers just over the past 12 months.  The capital will help the company strengthen its engineering and marketing staff, said the firm’s CEO, Bill Shope.

Investors are pouring money into Abound because the pandemic has shifted the ways in which small businesses source their goods, Shope said.  “The traditional process for wholesale buying and distribution is the trade shows,” Shope said. “The trade shows are all canceled for 2020 and into 2021, so we had plenty of brands coming to us to showcase their products.”  Now that small shops and e-retailers cannot hunt in person for fun products as road warriors, managers are turning to Abound and similar companies to stock up with unique products. Similarly, small producers who can no longer show off their wares due to the pandemic are matching up with sellers through the online platform.

The wholesale platform carries roughly 180,000 products, including vintage art, handmade soaps, makeup, stationery, and coffee beans from independent producers. Shope said the firm’s products are customized and it does not view Amazon as a competitor.  “Boutique and independent retailers differentiate themselves by having these types of products that surprise and delight and make you want to stroll in on a Sunday afternoon,” Shope said.  Abound competes with San Francisco–based wholesalers Faire and Tundra, which are also venture-backed startups.

Abound’s obtained venture funding round was led by Left-Lane Capital, a New York firm whose prior notable investments include HelloFresh, The Farmer’s Dog and SpotHero.  Despite the investment, Abound will still need to capturing market share, as well as overcome the retail slump. The pandemic is still devastating in-store retail across the board, and at the end of last year confidence among Abound’s target audience of small-business owners was down  to an eight-year low.