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This aspiring female founder raised £3.5M from Mark Pearson’s Fuel Ventures for her B2B wholesale marketplace

Image credits: Creoate

Last year, a pair of retail and finance experts Ashley Horn and Fahad Khan, went on to build a community that puts local, high-quality, sustainable products in the hands of consumers, helping to rebuild the economy for independent businesses. Thus, Creoate was born! 

According to the founders, the company was established to remove the pain points that surround the current wholesale ecosystem. Based out of London, Creoate is on a mission to democratise wholesale by connecting the best global sellers with independent retailers.

“Sourcing brands as an independent retailer is close to impossible, an experience I went through myself when running a multi-brand retail shop in London,” said Creoate co-founder Ashley Horn. “There are over 30 million brands on Instagram and it’s getting cheaper to launch a new product, but knowing what to buy as a retailer is extremely risky, expensive, and time-consuming. To make matters worse, all the banks I talked to didn’t want to finance inventory so we were turning to expensive credit cards with 18-30% rates just to pay for goods. It felt like the barriers were so high for an independent business to thrive even though there was so much demand from consumers. We could see that this system was not sustainable and there had to be a better way”. 

Raised £3.5M

Recently, the online marketplace has raised $5 million (approx £3.5 million) funding in a seed round led by Fuel Ventures with participation from Vinted founder Justas Janauskas. 

Creoate plans to use the funding to grow key go-to-market teams, double down on traction in Europe and add more advanced tools and analytics to the platform to accelerate business partnership.

The UK company aims to help independent retailers to buy sustainable and unique products from brands and wholesalers on a centralised platform. Creoate uses AI and predictive analytics to help retailers forecast sales and manage inventory levels efficiently in sustainable payment terms.

Creoate has built a suite of B2B software tools for brands and wholesalers, making them instantly wholesale ready in just three clicks. The company’s software has helped eliminate up to 40% in middlemen costs, helping pass savings to the community. 

Once a retailer joins the Creoate community, they can browse and buy wholesale items from handpicked brands, as well as get access to Creoate’s proprietary payment terms. 

Instead of relying only on data from traditional sources like bank statements, the company’s data engine, Bifrost, uses proprietary marketplace data to make instant payment decisions for each retailer.

Each brand on the Creoate platform is then personally curated by an in-house team of buyers to make sure they come from a group of diverse, representative, inclusive, creative, and skilled businesses from all corners of the country. 

“For as long as Mom and Pop shops, like those run by my family, have existed, they have been faced with poor information, discriminatory pricing, and unpredictable cash flows,” said co-founder Fahad Khan. “I saw first-hand working in financial services how little data is used today to make inventory decisions, which locks out millions of businesses from financial inclusion. That’s where we believe technology can add the most value, by empowering businesses to be more resilient and make better money. By focusing on how inventory is bought and financed, we are building an omnichannel future where offline consumer shopping brings the best out of online business-to-consumer commerce. It’s not one or the other.”

Creoate’s growth

Since its inception, the Creoate’s solution has been adopted at an exponential rate. In the last six months, more than 25,000 retailers signed up, which is a 1,600% YoY increase, says the company in the press release. 

Further, retailer adoption has increased to 7,000 a month over the last three months and is set for 6x growth by the end of the year as economies open further. 

On top of that, the team has grown four-fold in the last six months to meet demand and is on track to more than double by the end of 2021. 

Currently, the company operates in 10 countries including the UK, France, and the Netherlands, and its UK retailer network alone already consists of 4.5x more locations by door count than Boots, Marks, and Spencer, and John Lewis combined.

“Unless you’re in the world of retail, it can be difficult to truly grasp just how broken the system is for the 2.5 million retailers and 30 million emerging brands that Creoate serves,” said Mark Pearson, founder and managing partner at Fuel Ventures. “We are captivated by Creoate’s technology which is inspired by the founding team’s real-world experience and empathy. Creoate’s incredible growth, despite a severely challenging economic environment, is clear evidence of the must-have value it provides to independent businesses. We at Fuel Ventures only invest in super ambitious, hard-working founders and companies that have large global scale potential and with Ashley and Fahad, this is exactly what we have found.”