SF-based Grabr grabs $2.7M to scale its traveler-driven shopping community

Grabr, an SF-based platform with a convenient way for people to buy international goods, has secured a $2.7 million funding round led by SignalFire. FF Angel (Founders Fund’s early-stage investment vehicle), NFX, Global Founders Capital and multiple angel investors, including Diana Moldavsky and Charles Songhurst, also participated.

Grabr plans to use the cash to scale up its operations and attract more travelers to its platform. Chris Farmer, founder and CEO of SignalFire, says he was attracted to investing in the startup because: “Having grown up around the world, Grabr’s service resonated with me immediately as a way to effectively address an age-old problem: How do I access the world’s best products which are not available in my local market at affordable prices?”

You know the drill. You usually ask visiting friends and relatives to bring in things you couldn’t buy locally.

Instead, Grabr (which also has an app) allows you to bypass high shipping fees and markups, while saving money, by getting someone to deliver items. In Argentina, for example, shoppers are used to seeing price markups on some international goods of more than 100 percent, unless a friend brings them the item.

This counts a lot for tech gadgets, but most of Grabr’s shoppers order “everyday” items like bedding, baby toys and nutritional supplements, says the company.

Simultaneously, travelers on the platform can make money by filling the empty space in their suitcases with goods they are being paid to carry.

Each delivery earns a monetary bonus called a “traveler reward,” which is typically 15-20 percent of the item’s total cost. Depending on the item, that might mean they could actually fund their trips. Thus far, travelers have earned a combined $400,000-plus by using Grabr.

The other motivation is to meet the people who have contracted them to bring the item and spend some time with a local.

Grabr is not alone, of course. Competitors include Airmule (which has raised just over $1 million). Apps like this build in security, with shippers and travelers needing to be verified, and employ a rating system like Yelp or eBay to rank the integrity of each party.

Grabr co-founder Daria Rebenok says: “We have one traveler who uses Grabr to visit his girlfriend in Rio de Janeiro every few months and another who was able to visit her family in Peru through her traveler rewards.”

Angel investor Diana Moldavsky believes this seed round will take Grabr to the next level. “Having been an advisory board member since the beginning of Grabr and watching consistent growth as well as the team’s passion, dedication and hard work I was happy to introduce them to some of the Silicon Valley top investors who immediately decided to invest.”