helloDarwin evolves B2B services platform, raises $2 million seed round

helloDarwin

Montréal-based B2BQuotes has rebranded to helloDarwin and closed $2 million CAD in seed funding, as the startup looks to scale its online platform that aims to bring together businesses and B2B service providers.

The raise comes along with a new name and after an evolution of the startup’s offering.

The round was led by Tactico Venture Capital and RBC, with participation from existing investor Real Ventures. The deal also saw participation from angel investors including Nicolas Bouchard, founder of DuProprio, and Julie Lacasse, former executive at Montréal-based TrackTik. The new investment brings the startup’s total funding to date to $2.2 million.

The raise comes along with a new name and after an evolution of the startup’s offering. helloDarwin was founded under the name B2BQuotes in 2017, and, at the time, offered a platform that provided businesses looking for service providers with quotes for their web and marketing projects. ‘Service providers’ are professionals that can assist on a business’ given project. This can range from a freelance developer or consultant, all the way to a marketing agency.

In 2020, the company’s net monthly revenue increased to $165,000 from $30,000 in 2019. Mathieu Plante, CEO and co-founder of helloDarwin, told BetaKit the increase in revenue was due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on digital transformation. The growth also came as the startup was spending more time advising its clients and trying to better understand their needs.

Over the course of last year, the team identified the opportunity to expand beyond quotes and provide personalized account management for companies, as well as match these companies with the right service providers.

“We wanted to go away from [just providing quotes] to really be a one-stop-shop for business services, and to be able to empower them with our tech and our products,” said Plante.

helloDarwin now aims to provide businesses with the right partner for a project through a mix of human-based advising and tech-based matching.

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Previously, the company was mostly focused on pairing companies with service providers focused on web and marketing solutions. Plante said helloDarwin now has the ability to tackle a wider range of services in the B2B space. The company’s new recently launched website includes app development, video production, e-commerce, and enterprise resource planning, among many other services.

Through the platform, businesses fill out a form that outlines their project details. Then, helloDarwin’s team will get in touch with the business to ensure both parties are on the same page.

From there, the startup’s algorithm selects three or four of the most suitable partners for a project, in just 48 hours. helloDarwin completes all the due diligence, including background checks on both service providers and clients, and helps to manage the business’ expectations from a budgetary standpoint.

One key use of the proceeds generated from this latest funding round is geographic expansion.

Businesses can use the platform for free, but service providers pay a referral fee to bid on qualified projects. The startup also generates recurring revenue from monthly packages that service providers can pay to receive things like concierge services and perks to generate more leads.

Plante said the evolution of helloDarwin’s offering has led to promising results. To date, the startup has helped over 6,000 businesses and boasts over 4,000 qualified service providers on the platform. Its team now sits at roughly 40 people, which Plante hopes to bring up to 75 by the end of this year.

The name change for the company is indicative of the broader service the platform now provides users. Plante said ‘hello’ represents the human component of the platform and ‘Darwin’ represents the startup’s mission to help businesses evolve and adapt.

Where Plante feels the startup can shine is with the human component to its offering. The CEO noted that most companies he would consider to be competitors do not involve a human element in their selection process.

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Upwork, which offers its own freelancer marketplace, operates more similarly to a job board, where clients can interview, hire, and work with service providers all online. Though Plante does not consider Upwork to be in direct competition with helloDarwin, he named it as one of the big players in the freelancer marketplace space.

“They don’t even have one percent of the market,” Plante said, speaking of the startup’s competitors. “So it’s a really fragmented market.”

Plante touted the positives of helloDarwin’s offering to fill that space, arguing, it goes “one layer deeper” by not only focusing on matching businesses with service providers, but ensuring a successful partnership between the two parties.

2020 was a busy year for the startup in other respects. While still called B2BQuotes, the startup completed three accelerator programs and raised a pre-seed round of funding.

The startup first participated in Next AI’s 2020 cohort, which Plante said helped the company improve its algorithm. helloDarwin also participated in FounderFuel’s 2020 cohort, which led to a $220,000 pre-seed round of funding. Finally, the startup was also part of The DMZ’s accelerator program, which Plante said helped the company build out a solid network and prepare to scale.

After a year of evolving its core offering, helloDarwin’s CEO believes the team has found a formula to usher more trust and confidence into the marketplace of B2B services. The startup is now looking to consolidate market share.

One key use of the proceeds generated from this latest funding round is geographic expansion. helloDarwin is available across Canada, but Plante is looking to really consolidate its market share at home and complete a proof of concept in the United States.

Both endeavours will require helloDarwin to conduct small market tests, build up its supply of service providers, and in the United States, execute an official launch. Plante hopes to launch in the United States in the fall of this year.

Image courtesy of helloDarwin.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast