RedMart raises US$26.7mil, hires ex-Amazon VP as COO
By Keith Liu August 20, 2015
- New exec spent 12 years at Amazon, part of team that started AWS business
- RedMart expects its on-demand marketplace to be bigger than direct grocery sales
SINGAPORE-based online grocer and marketplace RedMart announced it has closed a US$26.7 bridge round, bringing its total funding since inception to US$54 million, and has hired a former Amazon.com vice president as chief operating officer (COO).
The new round was led by existing investors Garena, SoftBank Ventures Korea, Visionnaire Ventures, Facebook cofounder and angel investor Eduardo Saverin, and new investors, including Far East Ventures, the company said in a statement.
Earlier investors include Skype cofounder Toivo Annus, Golden Gate Ventures, LionRock Capital and the Northstar Group.
RedMart said it will be raising a larger Series C round later this year to fund international expansion, grow its grocery and marketplace business, and invest in its dry and fresh private label offering.
The funds will also be used to launch its ‘On Demand Marketplace’ which has been in pilot trials for more than three months, and which the company believes will be an even bigger business than its direct grocery sales.
RedMart was founded in October 2011 by Roger Egan, Vikram Rupani and Rajesh Lingappa.
In an interview with Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore late last month, Egan, who is also chief executive officer, said the idea came about after the founders found it a “terrible experience” ordering groceries online in Singapore compared with the experience in New York City, for example.
That made him realise that there was “a huge opportunity,” he said, because Singapore checked off all the right boxes.
“It’s a small, densely-populated island, all the infrastructure is there, the delivery density is high,” Egan said.
And finally, the Lion City has “people, especially tech-savvy people, who value their time and appreciate convenience, and that’s why we thought it would be a good idea.”
According to Egan, the team spent nine months building the site before launching it in October 2011, with 2,000 products on its ‘shelves.’
“We now have 17,000 products … and over the past four years, we’ve raised US$34 million from very well-respected investors such as the [cofounders of Skype and Facebook], Softbank Ventures, and Garena.
“So yeah, we have a very large, very world-class investor base, we’ve hired over 530 people, we’ve grown revenue 15% month-over-month since inception, and we’re growing pretty fast,” he said.
Egan claimed that RedMart provides the largest selection of groceries in Singapore, and is the only one capable of delivering to your door on the same day.
“But we thought, ‘Why stop there?’ – we can provide more convenience and a much better selection to customers by opening up a marketplace,” he said, explaining the On Demand Marketplace it is launching with the new funds. The Marketplace has been in pilot for about three months.
“We know Singaporeans shop for groceries on average three times a week. They often split that up by going to multiple different places – perhaps a wet market or speciality shop, or butcher and grocery store – to get their full grocery shopping done.
“So we said, what if we created a one-stop-shop for everything, and partnered with all the best niche grocers and restaurants and speciality shops throughout Singapore, and offered them all of this in one delivery with your regular RedMart grocery order?” he added.
RedMart tested the Marketplace for three months, and Egan (pic) claimed the reception has been great.
“People clearly do love that; it further differentiates our offering from brick-and-mortar grocers who can never hold that kind of selection … it’s just a no-brainer, we have much more selection than any store could ever have,” he declared.
“I think this Marketplace will be bigger than RedMart’s direct grocery sales,” he said. “The big differentiator is we’re the first to just focus on the grocery marketplace, and we’re the first to seamlessly integrate the logistics and last-mile delivery for vendors.
“Compared to a software-only marketplace where you have to do everything yourself – you have to take the photograph, you have to upload that, you have to do the cataloguing, you have to find the delivery guy, you have to do the fulfilment – we do all that for you,” he added.
AWS founding team member on board
Meanwhile, RedMart has also named former Amazon vice president Colin Bryar as COO.
He will be responsible for the commercial, operations, engineering, and marketing efforts at the company, RedMart said in its statement.
Cofounder Vikram, currently COO and chief financial officer, will take on the role of president.
Bryar began his career at Oracle Corp designing and building software, and left Oracle in 1996 to cofound pioneering e-commerce software company Server Technologies Group, which was later acquired by Amazon.
At Amazon, he was part of the team that launched its groundbreaking Amazon Web Services (AWS) business.
“Getting people internally and externally to adopt this new paradigm required a mix of technology, innovation, and evangelism,” he says on his LinkedIn profile.
“That message resonated well with developers. In the first year, the programme enrolled over 25,000 developers. AWS has since evolved into a major line of business for Amazon,” he adds.
Bryar most recently served as a vice president and general manager at The Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon. He has since moved to Singapore to take on the RedMart role.
“Colin [Bryar] is an experienced leader who has consistently used technology to innovate on behalf of customers, and has a strong track record for driving operational excellence,” Egan said in the official RedMart statement.
“We continue to hire top talent with deep experience across technology, retail, and operations to our leadership team, and throughout the company,” he added.
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