Former designer Carl Thompson left the fashion industry after years of wrangling with business administration spreadsheets, but hopes his startup TradeGecko will spare other small business owners from the same fate. Its cloud-based inventory and sales management application was developed to emphasize user experience with clean and intuitive data displays.
The Singapore-based startup, which launched to the public in September, targets regional wholesalers who want to develop better customer relationships. Last week, it closed on a seed funding round of $650,000 led by seed investment firm WaveMaker Labs, and including Golden Gate Ventures and the Singapore National Research Foundation. The money raised enables TradeGecko to integrate its cloud-based inventory and order management system with other SaaS applications like Xero, Shopify and Vend.
Before founding TradeGecko, Thompson ran a streetwear clothing label called Crowded Elevator from 2007 to 2011 that sold to about 40 fashion retailers in New Zealand and Australia. Thompson enjoyed the creative aspects of the business–product development, events planning, marketing–but was frustrated because he could not find a simple, end-to-end solution to manage backend administration.
Eventually, Thompson says he shut down Crowded Elevator “after realizing I was spending my entire day in spreadsheets doing mundane business administration, which was doing my head in.”
After seeing other small business owners struggling with the same issues, Thompson started developing TradeGecko along with his co-founders, brothers Cameron Priest and Bradley Priest, to be the application he wished he had had while running Crowded Elevator.
“Inventory management is only part of the problem. I wanted an order and sales management system that keeps track of inventory coming in and out that also linked to my Shopify store and Xero accounts. A well-designed end-to-end system that saved me time, eliminated double handling errors and allowed me to get back to fun stuff,” says Thompson.
The system integrates order processing, inventory management and customer relationship management software with real-time customer and sales data, and bundles it all up into an easy-to-use, attractive package. The site works on tablet browsers, allowing sales teams mobile access to customer and sales data.
Though there are several small-business order and inventory management software startups out there, Thompson says TradeGecko differentiates itself by taking “a very holistic approach to order and inventory management. We are user-experience-first, which I think is our biggest difference. TradeGecko’s clients work in sectors ranging “from fashion to fertilizer” and the Web site has four pricing tiers ranging from $49 to $499 per month. TradeGecko currently has accounts from 26 countries, but is currently targeting wholesalers, distributors and importers in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.
As the company grows and expands its marketing outreach to the U.S. early next year, Thompson says “bigger, albeit much slower incumbents” such as mySAP and NETSUITE will be their main competitors, as well as US-based startups working on competitive products (some notable ones include Lettuce and Stitch Labs. SMBs are a huge market in the U.S., so hopefully TradeGecko will grab a big slice of that pie.