White Star Backs Una Brands, The Leading E-commerce Aggregator in APAC
Over the last few years, an increasing proportion of Amazon business (and all e-commerce globally) has been conducted by Third Party Sellers (TPS) who list their own products directly for sale to consumers on Amazon’s marketplace platform. The trend is escalating. It’s now easier than ever to launch an e-commerce product, creating a long tail of independent sellers with their own branded products.
Today, there are an estimated 40,000 third-party sellers globally who generate over $1m in annual revenues. However, most TPSes are individuals, have a small range of products, are not professionalized, and don’t scale beyond one platform or geography.
This has led to the rise of several players across multiple geographies who are acquiring and professionalizing TPSes. Given the use of leverage, increase in revenue growth, and arbitrage on exit multiples for a consumer-packaged-goods company, being a third-party seller can be highly profitable; however, it takes an exceptional, multi-disciplinary team to nail the model.
Why APAC today?
Over the past year, we have seen e-commerce aggregators scale across Europe and North America, and have found that this opportunity is still nascent in emerging markets. We believe Asia Pacific (APAC) specifically has some very interesting dynamics that make it an exciting region for this type of play.
First, there is very little competition in the APAC region, with only 2 to 3 new players entering the market in the past nine months. Second, it’s a highly fragmented market, with multiple e-commerce players (Lazada, Shopee, Tokopedia, Amazon, etc.) and the stores run in isolation, while Europe and US have far more concentrated landscapes. Finally, there is significant regional expertise needed across supply chains, logistics and localisation to crack this space, acting as a barrier to entry to players from the US and Europe.
Enter Una Brands
In this context, we are pleased to announce that we have co-led Una Brands’s $15 million Series A alongside AlphaJWC. The company will use this capital to acquire e-commerce brands selling across multiple channels relevant to the APAC market including Shopify, Shopee, Lazada, Tokopedia, Amazon.
We’ve been incredibly impressed with the team. Kiren Tanna, the current CEO who started the company alongside Adrian Johnston, Kushal Patel, Tobias Heusch and Srinivasan Shridhara, is a serial entrepreneur, having been the previous Founder and CEO of FoodPanda and ZenRooms, and previously Head of APAC for Rocket Internet. Not only is the CEO’s background highly relevant, but also the background of all co-founders is exceptional, with their expertise covering investments, operations and analytics — the skill sets it takes to succeed here.
The company launched in December 2020 and has since acquired over 15 brands with the earliest brands seeing over 50% increase in sales and profits since acquisition. Through its multi-channel approach, the company has built proprietary tech, processes, and partnerships to identify, acquire, grow, and operate businesses seamlessly across channels and geographies. Una Brands has grown to a 90 people strong team across seven countries in APAC: Singapore, Australia, India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Malaysia, with plans to expand in Southeast Asia as well as Japan and South Korea.
The company is capitalizing on a $20 billion opportunity for e-commerce brand acquirers in the fast-growing APAC region. We believe they have the right approach and team to win in this market, and we’re excited to be on the journey with them!
White Star Capital is a global multi-stage technology investment platform that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs building ambitious, international businesses. Operating out of Guernsey, New York, London, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, our presence, perspective, and people enable us to partner closely with our Founders to help them scale internationally from Series A onwards.