Symphony Commerce has raised a $21.5 million Series B round of capital, led by CRV, and participated in by Bain Capital and FirstMark Capital. Previously, Symphony raised a $12.2 million Series A round of funding. Both Bain and FirstMark took part in that prior funding event.
Symphony operates in what it calls the ‘commerce as a service’ space. Not ecommerce specifically, but commerce in general. Symphony’s goal is to provide commerce tools — fulfillment, inventory management, infrastructure, and so forth — to companies that are digital first, and not.
Symphony is growing quickly, according to metrics that it was willing to disclose. The company expects to see its gross merchandise volume expand something on the order of six times in the current calendar year, when compared to 2013. Symphony told TechCrunch that it expects its 2016 gross merchandise volume sold through its tools to total $1 billion. That figure implies that its current-year tally will be comfortably in the nine figure range.
I spoke with Symphony co-founder Henry Kim about how the company intends to use the new capital. He indicated that Symphony wants to expand its engineering team, which is hardly surprising given the current technology climate.
Symphony’s digital toolset helps people who want to sell physical goods, but without managing the harder aspects of the supply chain and sales process. An old quip that I read once concerning the growth and success of Walmart fits here: Selling is easy, supply chaining is hard. The idea is that people who are adept at building a product, and connecting with a customer base, might know little to nothing about the finer points of running an online commerce business, or handling the storage and shipment of their goods.
The company’s bet is that it can provide a cleaner experience on those points, while taking revenue only on a per-event basis. Presumably, that business model lessens customer concern regarding cost. Kim told TechCrunch that his goal is to help “brands […] focus on what is core to their business.”
Symphony wants to go beyond providing commerce tools to its users. The company has a product called Compose in beta, which helps businesses build ecommerce storefronts using a simple drag and drop interface. The company demoed the product for me, which felt something akin to a Squarespace-like product that could help the non-CSS savvy quickly build a digital store, regardless of what they are selling. Compose will be released in the first quarter of 2015.
Looking ahead, Symphony also has a number of APIs in development that will allow developers to tap into its service system, without using its full stack. Commerce as a service, then, but via an API, so you can use, for example, Symphony’s fulfillment tools only, if that is what you need. The company would prefer if you used its roster of services in unison, of course.
Since its pivot from selling things, to helping other brands sell their goods, Symphony has been mostly quiet. Now with fresh capital — read: ammunition — it’s up to the company to execute. Its $1 billion gross merchandise volume estimate for 2016 is a line in the sand. We’ll see if Symphony can meet its own expectations.