Inventa, a Brazilian digital platform that connects more than 20,000 small and mid-sized retailers to nearly 400 suppliers ranging in categories such as cosmetics, decoration, and grocery, announced on Monday (24) a BRL 115 million Series A round. The funding, which comes less than three months after the BRL 30 million Seed round, was led by Andreessen Horowitz – this would be its second investment in Brazil after proptech Loft – and monashees.
The funding round also included Founders Fund, Greenoaks, Greylock, Tiger Global, and the angel investors Hans Tung and Carlos Gracia, from Kavak, as well as existing investors such as Pear VC, NXTP, ONEVC, MAYA Capital, and Alter Global.
With the newly raised funds, the company plans to increase its team fivefold by the end of 2022, focusing mainly on technology and marketing teams, to grow its customer base to around 200,000, and take its first steps to go international. The startup currently has about 100 employees.
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In an interview with LABS, Marcos Salama, one of Inventa’s co-founders, said that the company founded in March 2021 has been doubling in size each month and that one of the big goals besides growing in clients, is to have them using the platform more frequently. “Considering about 5 million small businesses in Brazil, with this growth we will only be scratching the surface.”
Most of the retailers are in the Southeast region, but the startup serves all over Brazil. They buy, on average, 5% to 10% of their inventory through Inventa. The idea is that they can buy 50% or more.
“A lot of our success comes from the fact that we are reaching clients beyond the big urban centers, for whom it is sometimes difficult to access a wider range of suppliers. If the retailer already buys 3 or 5 brands from us, they can buy 30. As it becomes more digital, the merchant will buy more as well, having a better experience, and better data,” said Salama, who, before founding Inventa, together with Fernando Carrasco (former BCG) and Laura Camargo (who worked for funds such as General Atlantic and Pátria, as well as Gympass), led Rappi‘s grocery store unit.
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More than just connecting entrepreneurs with suppliers, Inventa helps them set up the ideal product mix based on data and offers zero-cost credit support. “That’s the idea, right? Inventa only works if both sides of the equation are better off: with suppliers selling at zero cost to their existing customers, and retailers buying the products with better conditions. We make money on new customers, with a 15% commission on sales,” explained Salama.
On average, retailers have pre-approved credit of BRL 1,500 or BRL 2,000 within the platform. They pay no interest on these transactions and have 30 to 90 days to pay off the loan taken, in installments.
As for the product mix, it is done considering not only the needs the retailers bring, based on the wishes of their clients, but also looking at nearby rivals, at suppliers of similar products that may have better prices, and at other data that, as the platform grows, will become more complete. Operating for only nine months, Inventa has about 6,000 products in its inventory from suppliers such as Davene, Lovme and Ruby Rose in the cosmetics category, and Mais Pura in grocery.
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“For small retailers and entrepreneurs in Brazil, the whole process of new product finding, buying, and accessing credit is quite complex. Inventa has an amazing potential to help them be more competitive and successful, making this whole dynamic easier and adding a lot of value to these businesses. Marcos and his team are just at the beginning of their journey, and we couldn’t be more excited about our partnership,” said Carlo Dapuzzo, from monashees, in a statement to the press.
For the next 12 to 18 months Inventa’s primary focus is on Brazil, but Salama does not exclude the idea of doing a pilot project in Colombia or Mexico early next year. We still have a lot to do in Brazil, but expansion [to other Latin American countries] is a matter of when rather than if.”