Weengs, a U.K. startup that has developed a shipping service for small retailers and online sellers that takes care of the hand and leg work (quite literally) required to send out orders, has picked up £2.2 million in backing. It plans to use the capital to expand beyond London, including other cities in Europe.
Backing the seed round are Robin and Saul Klein’s LocalGlobe, Seedcamp, and Germany’s Cherry Ventures. A number of unnamed angels also participated, in addition to Greek VC fund VentureFriends. Prior to today’s funding, Weengs, which launched in July 2015, had raised a mere £175,00 in angel funding.
Aiming to take care of the most laborious and time-consuming aspect of selling goods online, Weengs offers a packaging and shipping service via a smartphone app: You simply take a photo of the items you want to send, add the destination address, and request a pickup.
Then, within as little as an hour, one of Weeng’s so-called “Angels” — not to be confused with the startup’s angel investors who I’m sure don’t get their hands that dirty — will collect the item, take it to the startup’s warehouse where it is professionally packaged, including a custom-built box.
Finally, the package is shipped via one of Weeng’s shipping partners, which include Royal Mail, DHL and DPD. It costs £5 per pick up plus shipping rates.
“Small retailers and online sellers struggle to fulfill their online orders when it comes to packaging and shipping with a carrier. They have no resources or experience to offer the shipping services their big competitors offer which usually results in delayed deliveries or damages due to poor packing. We offer high-scale logistics to them at an affordable price,” explains Weeng co-founder Greg Zontanos.
“We collect their items unboxed from their location, package them professionally with our own materials and then ship them at discounted shipping rates with reliable carriers. This means our customers can promise same day shipping, deliver their goods intact and with great packaging and save themselves money and time. We also help them with international shipments so that they can address bigger markets; first by creating custom-built boxes and reducing shipping costs, and second by doing all the customs paperwork for them”.
The business model is potentially neat, too. Aside from charging a pick up and packaging fee, which alone might set off a few unit economic alarm bells, some of Weeng’s margin lies in the discounted rates it can attain from its partner delivery companies through bulk purchasing, not all of which is passed on to customers. Of course, to make that really work scale will be the name of the game.
To that end, Weeng’s typical customers are power Ebay sellers, and boutique stores, such as those listed on Trouva. “Such a shop is usually being run by one or two people and they don’t have the time to find packing materials, do the packaging, book a label online and queue at the post office or arrange a collection within an 8-hour time window. All they need to do with Weengs is to take a photo… with the Weengs app, add the destination address and request a pickup” Zontanos adds.