Toronto-based startup ShopLocket today announced its first institutional funding, a $1 million seed round led by Rho Canada Ventures and Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures. The round also includes BDC Venture Capital, Relay Ventures and Extreme Venture Partners as well as private investors, and will help ShopLocket grow its team and extend the availability of its simple ecommerce platform, which allows anyone to create single-item storefronts they can embed on any website quickly and easily.
For the young startup, which just launched in private beta back in February 2012, the funding will be instrumental in helping it add employees in both the marketing and engineering departments.
“The main use of the funds will be to grow the team, both for marketing and development,” ShopLocket co-founder Katherine Hague said in an interview. “Up until now we were a team of three; Andrew Louis my co-founder, Dan Kalmar our Community Manager, and myself. Already we’ve added two team members, Jaclyn Konzelmann for business development and Sumanth Ravipati as our second developer. We expect to be adding a full-time designer and a third developer later in the year.”
For Hague and her team, bringing that new talent on board will be the key to scaling quickly. But the startup is no stranger to doing things quickly; Hague says that the entire process of raising this round took place over just two short months, “from pitches to money in the bank.” She credits a lot of that speed to the company’s participation in the Extreme Startups accelerator program, a Toronto-based program which selects five startup teams for each 12-week cohort it runs, providing each with $50,000 in capital upfront, and another $150,000 on successful completion of the program, provided by BDC Venture Capital.
“Four of our five institutional investors are also investors in Extreme Startups,” Hague said. “They’ve seen us develop since we joined the program in March. Throughout that time we were able to develop strong relationships with all of them, they’ve been incredibly supportive.”
As for ShopLocket’s final investor, Valar Ventures, that resulted from a trip Hague made to San Francisco in June. Hague says that ShopLocket “couldn’t have found a better partner” as an ecommerce startup, and that definitely seems to be the case, as Valar President Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal. Thiel’s support will definitely help with ShopLocket’s long-term goals, which include coming out at the top of the heap among the recent crop of startups tackling simplified online buying and selling, including Gumroad, Kout and Sellfy.
“I think that the key to coming out ahead in this market will be rapid iteration and staying top of mind with consumers,” Hague explained about her company’s approach. “When we started ShopLocket nine months ago, this segment of companies really didn’t exist. There is a massive opportunity here with more then enough room for multiple players, [but] ultimately, I think that we will see a leader emerge in the next couple years and we plan to be that leader.”