London based start-up vendi has raised £600k to continue its mission to make peer-to-peer marketplaces mainstream.
The raise is composed of angel investors from the US, the UK, and Spain, including serial entrepreneur and investor EYES member, Jorge Gonzalez-Iglesias and a recognised fund in the UK, Sustainable Ventures.
By removing the risks and hassles from private buying and selling, vendi brings an augmented peer-to-peer experience to marketplaces. Every buyer, seller, and product is verified to remove any possible scam during the transaction.
Founded in 2018 by ex-Cisco employees Anil Rao, CTO, and Pablo Gonzalez-Iglesias, vendi guarantees to protect both sides of the transaction.
After the buyer pays in-app, the money is withheld from the seller and only released after the product is verified by a network of shops. Its key differentiator, in a market covered by P2P players such as eBay and Gumtree, is its efficient, secure escrow payment and AI-powered product verification system.
Users can choose to either pick-up or drop off items at a local vendi verification store – reminiscent of the offline consumer experience, or opt for vendi’s door-to-door courier service where users don’t have to leave their house.
Pablo Gonzalez-Iglesias, CEO and Co-Founder of vendi says, “We are thrilled to have the support of great investors and entrepreneurs from different countries as well as the wealth of experience and expertise that Sustainable Ventures bring. They align very well with our values and support our circular economy and marketplace-security principles.
With vendi’s business model, trust is immediate and does not require hundreds of ratings to be built between peers. It presents a unique space, free from fake products or risky encounters.
In 2018, Pablo was scammed for his mobile phone when he encountered a thief and fraudster instead of an honest buyer whilst trying to sell a phone on a supposedly reputable marketplace.
This incident, as well as other fraud attempts in multiple marketplaces, led Anil and Pablo to think deeply about what was wrong with the P2P marketplaces on offer; consumers can find great prices for new and preowned products, however with each transaction, there is an underlying risk of becoming a victim of fraud.
“Our mission is two-fold – to make P2P a trusted and mainstream activity enabling people to buy and sell devices at the best prices and to stretch the lifecycle of their electronic goods to reduce electronic-waste,” adds Pablo González-Iglesias.
“Peer-to-peer marketplaces offer new and preowned products 30-60% cheaper than retail, but my experience, as many others’ out there, shows there is an inherent flaw and that the trust needed between buyer and seller cannot be guaranteed. That’s why we decided to create vendi to eliminate the risk for both sides of the equation, allowing honest buyers and sellers to transact with one another”.
In the near future, other marketplaces will be able to leverage vendi’s verification-as-a-service to further protect their users against online scams.