As e-commerce aggregators continue to grow in Asia, South Korea is emerging as the fifth largest e-commerce market in the world.
Seoul-based e-commerce aggregator Wholesome is capitalizing on the trend of big companies buying from third-party sellers, who typically sell on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. The company said on Tuesday it had raised $35 million in debt and $15 million in equity in a Series A round. Wholesome co-founder Andrew Xu said the investment came months after raising $4.75 million in Seed Capital in August 2021 and 18 million dollars of debt in November 2021.
Wholesome, which currently owns five Korean local brands, plans to acquire 15 to 20 more brands this year in the lifestyle, health, kids, and pet categories.
“The pandemic and mature e-commerce platforms have resulted in the creation of 10,000 new independent brands per month in Korea,” Xu said. “Consumers are increasingly eager to experiment and try new ways of shopping. This created brand appeal and popularity with consumers, but resulted in growth that many brand owners find difficult to sustain. The solution to their pain points is that Wholesome exists. ,
The maturity of fintech and e-commerce platforms in South Korea has fueled the growth of independent brands, said Xu gaming-updates. In South Korea, there are about 500,000 third-party merchants on marketplaces like Coupang, eBay, SSG.com, Cafe24 and Naver SmartStore, but third-party merchants face three main challenges: access to growth capital. recruitment issues and a steep learning curve for marketing. Joe said.
To solve problems with local small brands, K.B. Haim, formerly of Coupang and South Korean fashion brand distributor LG Fashion, and Xu, who has nearly two decades of finance and private equity experience, co-founded Founder Wholesale. in 2021. I
One valuable proposition for third-party sellers is that they can generate income from selling their brands and create a new brand that can be tailored to their values or passions, gaming-updates Xu said. “Maybe a brand they couldn’t create when they created their first brand because they didn’t have the capital or they didn’t understand the value chain like manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution,” Xu continued.
“The last decade has been a time to invest in the growth of online markets, but now is the time to leverage this global infrastructure and invest in segments of the e-commerce value chain such as brands and D2C sales where we are all over the place. peace,” Chaim said.
“We think our total target market is about 45,000 brands generating more than $1 million in annual sales,” Xu told gaming-updates. “The organic growth of our brand portfolio has been strong since the acquisition, but it is still in its infancy, so we think we can reach 30-40% yoy once we get on track. Our acquisition estimate ranged from $250,000 to $6 million.”
Wholesome says it doesn’t consider acquisitions to be the most important measure of performance.
“We acquire and scale brands; But at our core, we honor brand owners and their product achievements through post-acquisition organic growth, and look forward to building the next cycle of entrepreneurs into a sustainable brand with the opportunity to one day have the opportunity to get involved,” Xu said. . Company statement.
Xu said Wholesome’s go-to-market strategy is to find brands made in Korea that are sold mainly on local e-commerce marketplaces. That doesn’t mean Wholesome isn’t looking at overseas markets, he said, adding that he’s acquiring Korean brands with the potential to expand into global markets, including Lazada, Shopee, Amazon and Mercado Libre.
The latest funding was led by Kingsway Capital, Antler Global and Vidus Partners, with contributions from previous lenders Nordstar and Bass Investments. New investors KSV Global and Bold Ventures also joined the round.
“Partnering with high-quality brands, backed by data-driven data and strong operational acumen, we are confident that Wholesome will capitalize on its growth as a leading player in this large, underserved and unknown South Korean e-commerce market. Will expand,” said partner Antler Global. Teddy Himmler.