Facebook has launched a new program to help ecommerce companies grow their businesses on the platform — and it’s leveraging Toronto-based Clearbanc technology to do it.
Clearbanc is powering the Chrgd Program on the Facebook Master Series, which provides ecommerce clients with curated tools like playbooks, educational courses, and custom support from an expert. The Chrgd program provides companies with up to $500,000 meant to support more inventory, product launches, and marketing. Businesses that have been operating for at least six months connect their business data to Chrgd to receive an offer, and can decide how to split the revenue.
The program is open to entrepreneurs in the US and Canada. “At Facebook, we are in the business of helping small companies become large and local companies become global,” said Katherine Shappley, Director, SMB North America at Facebook. “The Chrged program by Clearbanc provides an exciting opportunity for businesses to access the resources they need to grow.”
“Any personal goal of mine is to enable more people to be entrepreneurs.”
Former Nymi president Andrew D’Souza launched Clearbanc in 2015 with the goal of supporting entrepreneurs and freelancers on platforms like Shopify and Airbnb. Its first product was a service allowing Uber drivers to get paid instantly instead of waiting up to eight days.
Michele Romanow — who has a strong ecommerce background thanks to her time growing Buytopia and selling Snapsaves to Groupon — was eventually named co-founder of the company as it expanded into financing ecommerce businesses. “You have great ecommerce companies, and they’re just not spending enough money on advertising, but they have positive returns on ad spend.”
The company has been piloting its ecommerce vertical for the past year, getting data from payments processors and ad spend data. She says 90 percent of ecommerce companies are Facebook-driven. “Businesses today are processing payments online and acquiring customers online, and these are perfect pieces of underwriting data, but there’s no bank or financial institution actually using the data,” Romanow said, acknowledging that Clearbanc is not a substitute for VC.
“I’m talking about ecommerce companies that have a product…and really shouldn’t give up 25 percent of their company.”
“VC is a really specific type of capital that really only applies to two percent of companies in the whole ecosystem of companies,” Romanow said. “I’m talking about ecommerce companies that have a product, they’re making healthy unit economics, and really they shouldn’t give up 25 percent of their company to an equity investor. They should be able to get debt effectively for the company and continue to grow.”
When not growing Clearbanc, Romanow is one of the dragons on Dragons’ Den helping other entrepreneurs grow their companies. She says this experience has made her more empathetic to entrepreneurs, who constantly deal with emergencies.
In particular, Romanow is excited about the scale of the program and hinted that there may be more partnership announcements in the future. “Any personal goal of mine is to enable more people to be entrepreneurs. I think the ability to access capital is a crucial part of that. Our goal is to be the go-to for SMBs, we’re going start vertical by vertical — so we’re focused on ecommerce and vacation rental space for now — but I think we’ll continue to expand from that and go from there.”
Photo via Speakers’ Spotlight