Zapt is now Trela; aims to remove the middleman from group food shopping

People who purchase as a group, for anything from insurance to a group of neighbors fixing their fence, can often command a better purchase deal.

In Trela’s case, it is developing a way for Brazilian neighbors to connect groups of people to suppliers, particularly for food purchases with the goal of eliminating the middleman so purchases can be made directly.

The social commerce company, formerly known as Zapt, was founded in 2020 by Guilherme Nazareth, Guilherme Alvarenga and João Jönk. Prior to that, Nazareth was a data scientist in San Francisco, and when he saw the dollar skyrocket, he thought it was an exciting opportunity to move back to Brazil and start a company in a large, fragmented market that had tailwinds from the global pandemic.

“That’s how I landed on food,” he added. “The Brazilian grocery market was fragmented, so I drove around with a beer salesperson to find out what kind of technology they needed.”

The inspiration for Trela came shortly after that, when Nazareth met a company CTO who had created data around his neighbor buying directly from suppliers. “There was a full WhatsApp group and a 100% waitlist. That’s when I saw a new consumer experience banging on the door and wanted to create a product that let behavior like that be prevalent.”

Trela’s social commerce marketplace enables neighbors to buy premium products from the supplier without a middleman, in a more efficient and fair way than the grocery store, and at lower prices for the products and delivery.

Nazareth explained that the company is competing against grocery stores by connecting the ends of the supply chain to give neighbors themselves the buying power of a small restaurant or grocery store so that they can share in the cost of food — in some cases between 20%. and 60% in lower costs.

On the supplier side, they can command a better margin, Nazareth said. It also is connected to WhatsApp, which allows Trela to gamify the experience and update products in real time.

Here’s how it works: In the Trela group, users get a new offer or update on an offer for food items, and when the user clicks on the link, it takes them over to the web app where they can check out in one click. If you want to create a group, you can be nominated to do so, and Trela will reach out. Most of the group creators are foodies and those who bring their neighborhoods together. Users also can ask for product recommendations.

Nazareth and his co-founders launched the product in 2021, and after being a part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 cohort, they raised a seed round. Today, they announced $25 million in Series A funding, touting it as one of the largest Series A rounds in Latin America.

The round was led by SoftBank Latin America and included Kaszek, General Catalyst, Y Combinator and Pierpaolo Barbieri. Including the new funds, Trela has raised $27.8 million in total.

Since the seed round in April 2021, the company has grown 30 times in revenue and is seeing an average growth of 45% per month, Nazareth said. That includes going from nine employees at the time to 32. Trela currently operates in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, and he expects to be in another five cities by the end of the year.

“We’ve been a scrappy seed and have a million things to do,” he added. As a result, most of the new funding will go into product development and hiring. Suppliers are responsible for the deliveries right now, but Trela is testing its own deliveries, which Nazareth says has been successful so far and will be rolled out further.