Armed with $160M in funding, LatAm’s Merama enters the e-commerce land grab

Merama, a five-month old e-commerce startup focused on Latin America, announced today that it has raised $60 million in seed and Series A funding and $100 million in debt.

The money was raised “at well over a $200 million valuation,” according to co-founder and CEO Sujay Tyle.  

“We are receiving significant inbound for a Series B already,” he said.

LatAm firms Valor Capital and Monashees Capital and U.K.-based Balderton Capital co-led the “massively oversubscribed” funding round, which also included participation from Silicon Valley-based TriplePoint Capital and the CEOs of four unicorns in Latin America, including Uala, Loggi, Rappi and Madeira Madeira. 

Tyle, Felipe Delgado, Olivier Scialom, Renato Andrade and Guilherme Nosralla started Merama in December 2020 with a vision to be the “largest and best-selling set of brands in Latin America.” The company has dual headquarters in Mexico City and São Paulo.

Merama partners with e-commerce product sellers in Latin America by purchasing a stake in the businesses and working with their teams to help them “exponentially” grow and boost their technology while providing them with nondilutive working capital. CEO Tyle describes the company’s model as “wildly different” from that of, Perch and other similar companies such as Valoreo because it does not aggregate dozens of brands.

“We will work with very few brands over time, and only the best, and work with our entire team to scale and expand these few businesses,” Tyle told TechCrunch. “We’re more similar to The Hut Group in the EU.”

Merama expects to sell $100 million across the region this year, more than two times the year before. It is currently focused on Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Already, the company operates “very profitably,” according to Tyle. So the cash raised will go primarily toward partnering with more brands, investing in building its technology platform “to aid in the automation of several facets” of its partners’ brands and in working capital for product innovation and inventory purchases. 

The 42-person team is made up of e-commerce leaders from companies such as Amazon, Mercado Libre and Facebook, among others. Tyle knows a thing or two about growing and building new startups, having co-founded Frontier Car Group, which sold to OLX/Naspers for about $700 million in 2019. He is also currently a venture partner at Balderton. 

It’s a fact that Latin American e-commerce has boomed, particularly during the pandemic. Mexico was the fastest-growing e-commerce market in 2020 worldwide, yet is still in its infancy, Tyle said. Overall, the $85 billion e-commerce market in Latin America is growing rapidly, with projections of it reaching $116.2 billion in 2023.

“Merchants are seeing hypergrowth but still struggle with fundamental problems, which creates a ceiling in their potential,” Tyle told TechCrunch. “For example, they are unable to expand internationally, get reliable and cost-effective working capital and build technology tools to support their own online presence. This is where Merama comes in. We seek to give our partners an unfair advantage. When we decide to work with a team, it is because we believe they will be the de facto category leader and can become a $1 billion business on their own.”

Merama collaborates with e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Mercado Libre, and several executives from both companies have invested in the startup, as well.

Daniel Waterhouse, partner at Balderton Capital, says his firm sees “huge potential” in Merama.

“In our two decades scaling businesses in Europe, we have seen firsthand what defines eCommerce category leaders,” he said in a written statement. “What they have already achieved is breathtaking, and it is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Valor Capital founding partner Scott Sobel believes that creating superior products that connect with consumers is the first key challenge D2C companies face.

“That is why we like Merama’s approach to partnering with these established brands and provide them unparalleled support to scale their operations in an efficient way,” he added.

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Merging Airbnb and the traditional hotel model, Mexico City’s Casai raises $23 million to grow in Latin America

With travel and tourism rising across Latin America, Casai, a startup combining Airbnb single unit rentals with hotel room amenities, has raised $23 million to expand its business across Latin America.

The company, which initially was as hit hard by regional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as other businesses in the hospitality industry has recovered to reach nearly 90 percent of total capacity on the 200 units it manages around Mexico City.

The company was co-founded by chief executive Nico Barawid, a former head of international expansion at Nova Credit and consultant with BCG, and chief operating officer María del Carmen Herrerías Salazar, who previously worked at one of Mexico’s largest hotel operators, Grupo Presidente.

The two met two years ago at a barbecue in Mexico City and began speaking about ways to update the hospitality industry taking the best of Airbnb’s short term rental model of individual units and pairing it with the quality control and standards that guests expect from a hotel chain.

“I wanted to define a product from a consumer angle,” said Barawid. “I wanted this to exist.”

Before the SARS-Cov-2 outbreak Casai’s units were primarily booked through travel partners like HotelTonight or Expedia. Now the company has a direct brisk direct booking business thanks to the work of its chief technology officer, a former engineer at Google named Andres Martinez.

The company’s new financing was led by Andreessen Horowitz and included additional commitments from the firm’s Cultural Leadership Fund, Kaszek Ventures, Monashees Capital, Global Founders Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, and individual investors including the founders of Nova Credit, Loft, Kavak and Runa.

Casai also managed to nab a debt facility of up to $25 million from TriplePoint Capital, bringing its total cash haul to $48 million in equity and debt.

Image Credit: Casai

The big round is in part thanks to the company’s compelling value proposition, which offers guest not only places to stay equipped with a proprietary smart hardware hub and the Casai app, but also a Google Home, smart lights, and Chromecast-kitted televisions, but also a lounge where guests can stay ahead of their check-in or after check-out.

And while the company’s vision is focused on Latin America now, its management team definitely sees the opportunity to create a global brand and business.

The founding team also includes a chief revenue officer, Alberto Ramos, who worked at McKinsey and a chief growth officer, Daniel Hermann, who previously worked at the travel and lifestyle company, Selina. The head of design, Alexa Backal, used to work at GAIA Design, and its vice president of experience, Cristina Crespo, formerly ran WeWork’s international design studio.

“To successfully execute on this opportunity, a team needs to bring together expertise from consumer technology, design, hospitality, real estate and financial services to develop world-class operations needed to deliver on a first-class experience,” said Angela Strange, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who’s taking a seat on the Casai board. “It was obvious when I met Nico and Maricarmen that they are operationally laser-focused and have uniquely blended expertise across verticals, with unique views on the consumer experience.”

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#DealMonitor – Infarm sammelt 170 Millionen ein – Bayes bekommt 6 Millionen

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 17. September werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Jetzt offiziell: LGT Lighthouse, der Beteiligungsarm des Prinzenhauses Liechtenstein, Hanaco, Bonnier, Haniel und Latitude sowie die bestehenden Investoren Atomico, TriplePoint Capital, Mons Capital und Astanor Ventures investieren 170 Millionen US-Dollar in das Berliner Unternehmen Infarm, einen Vertical Farming-Anbieter. “Das finale Closing der Runde soll sich auf 200 Millionen US-Dollar belaufen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Die Financial Times hatte bereits Ende Juni über das Investment berichtet. “Das frische Kapital – eine Mischung aus Eigen- und Fremdkapital – erhöht die Gesamtfinanzierung von Infarm auf mehr als 300 Millionen US-Dollar”, teilt Infarm weiter mit. Infarm wurde 2013 in Berlin von Osnat Michaeli und den Brüdern Erez und Guy Galonska gegründet. Die Jungfirma entwickelt ein “intelligentes modulares Farming-System”. Edeka, Aldi Süd und Kaufland nutzen Infarm bereits.

+++ Die Familie Pohlad, Fertitta Capital und der Sony Innovation Fund investieren 6 Millionen UD-Dollar in Bayes, früher als Dojo Madness bekannt. Das Berliner Startup ist auf die Entwicklung von Software für den E-Sports-Bereich spezialisiert. “Den Kern der Unternehmensaktivitäten bilden Shadow.GG, Marktführer im Professional Esports Analytics Bereich, und Bayes Esports, 2019 gemeinsam mit Sportradar gegründet”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Gegründet wurde Dojo Madness von Christian Gruber, Mathias Kutzner, Markus Fuhrmann und Jens Hilgers.

+++ Mehrere Business Angels und ein “Institutioneller Investor”, die allerdings alle namentlich nicht genannt werden, investieren eine sechsstellige Summe in corefihub. Das Unternehmen aus Bruchsal kümmert sich um die “Digitalisierung der gewerblichen Immobilienfinanzierung”. corefihub möchte Banken, Vermittler, Immobilienunternehmen, Investoren und Projektentwickler unterstützen, ihre Finanzierungen schneller, einfacher und günstiger zu bearbeiten”. corefihub wurde von Daniel Rodriguez, Oliver Klemm und Sebastian Schefzcyk gegründet.

+++ Der Münchner B2B-Company Builder Finconomy steigt bei MiFIDRecorder ein und sichert sich dabei 25,1 % am Unternehmen. Die Jungfirma bietet “Taping-Lösungen für Banken, Haftungsdächer, Maklerpools, Vermögensverwalter und Finanzvermittler” an. Zudem stellt MiFIDRecorder seit einigen Monaten auch eine Aufzeichnungssoftware für Video-Konferenzen bereit.


+++ Die So1-Gründer Raimund Bau und Sebastian Gabel kaufen die Überreste ihres insolventen Unternehmens – siehe FinanceFWD. Der tief gefallene Zahlungsdienstleister Wirecard übernahm den Berliner Big-Data-Dienst im Juni dieses Jahres. Der Kaufpreis soll im hohen einstelligen oder niedrigen zweistelligen Millionenbereich gelegen haben. Im Zuge der Wirecard-Insolvent schlitterte auch So1 in die Insolvenz. “Der Kaufpreis liegt im fünfstelligen Euro-Bereich und damit deutlich unter der Summe, die Wirecard im Frühjahr für die Firma überwiesen hat”, heißt es im Artikel.


Archimedes New Ventures
+++ Die familiengeführte Böllhoff Gruppe aus Bielefeld, ein Hersteller und Händler für Verbindungselemente und Montagesysteme, gründet mit Archimedes New Ventures einen Corporate-
Venture-Ableger. “Verantwortlich für eine neue digitale Innovationskultur liegt der Schwerpunkt der Gesellschaft auf der Entwicklung und Förderung neuer digitaler Geschäftsmodelle für die Böllhoff-Gruppe”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Mit Joinect, einer KI-basierten Cloud-Software, die Ingenieuren die Suche nach Verbindungslösungen erleichtert, schob Archimedes bereits das erste Startup an.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

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Foto (oben): Shutterstock

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