Australian startup raises $25m to help e-commerce shoppers beat bots

EQL Founders_Patrick Donelan, Andrew Lipp, James Boysons. Image: provided.

Australian tech startup EQL has raised $25m in pre-series funding to grow its platform that protects the integrity of “hype” e-commerce instant sales for cult brands and their obsessive fans.

The raise took place with the backing of global software investor Insight Partners and Australian venture capital fund AirTree Ventures, as well as a group of notable investors including Sam Kroonenburg, founder of A Cloud Guru, and the family office of Michael Rubin, co-owner of the American basketball team. the Philadelphia 76ers.

The new funds will fuel the company’s growth as it strengthens its global sales and customer teams and further develops its infrastructure and AI capabilities.

While the term “hype drop” is perhaps most familiar to sneakerheads and fashion obsessives alike in the fast-paced world of limited editions, it is a practice that is likely to become more popular as e-commerce continues to develop.

The practice involves companies releasing limited shipments of products to consumers, who must buy immediately to avoid missing out. It helps brands cultivate scarcity in their products, as well as develop a devoted and engaged customer base.

But the sales tactic also attracts bad actors. Launch issues include site crashes, payment chaos created by demand, or backlash from scammers and bots dumping inventory.

This is where EQL comes into the equation.

Founders Andrew Lipp, James Boysons and Patrick Donelan – all former Google executives – launched the company after the team sent a cold email to Nike Europe showcasing their software aimed at delivering fairer launches.

After an accelerated sprint, the software was used to support the launch of a Jordan sneaker collaboration with a French designer.

The platform’s complex technology incorporates scam and fraud detection, as well as smart payment capabilities that ensure fair and transparent sales in fast transactions.

While its first clients were in the sneaker space, EQL now also supports luxury brands in apparel, alcohol and accessories, and plans to expand soon into gaming, ticketing and the collectives space. digital (read: NFT).

“E-commerce has changed”

EQL was born out of a desire for fairness, says co-founder and CEO Andrew Lipp SmartCompany.

The trio of sneaker enthusiasts were fed up with missing out on limited edition sneaker releases and wanted to create a platform that a host of companies, from cult streetwear brands to high fashion houses to whiskey companies , could use to ensure integrity.

As e-commerce becomes a critical sales channel for retailers, companies need to consider the many ways it can happen, Lipp says.

“You have social commerce, you have the creator economy.

“Fashion commerce is becoming a very popular segment of e-commerce; you have rare products, which a lot of retail brands are selling now,” he said.

The consequence is that existing platforms, including those built by retailers, cannot handle this new level of complexity. This means brands and their loyal customers lose out on a shopping experience that helps businesses maintain integrity and build trust.

“E-commerce has changed,” Lipp said.

“Ultimately, our mission is to build the fairest hype business in the world; to get these products into the hands of real fans,” he said.

New forms of digital commerce “require certain kinds of tools that are tailor-made for those times,” which Lipp says is the security that EQL provides.

The company has grown rapidly internationally since its launch, with early adopters like Footlocker, Sullivans Cove Whiskey and Crocs using the platform to manage limited release product launches.

EQL has now been part of over 1000 high temperature launches.

The Melbourne-based fashion commerce platform already operates in 11 global markets and plans to use the new funds to put down deeper roots, particularly in Europe and Aisa, where many established fashion brands are based. – and rare product launches are gaining popularity.

“Customers love it and retailers want to deliver it”

Lipp says EQL’s meteoric rise came from understanding how best its software could solve retailers’ problems.

The startup is focused on “incremental building as needed [our] customers have,” he says.

“Being able to partner with them to gradually develop the features, so that you’re still sort of delivering something usable, has been really important to us.”

Lipp says the company has also tapped into a growing desire for fairness as small businesses compete with online e-commerce giants.

“Equity is real,” he says.

“We love it. Customers love it and retailers want to deliver it.”

He also credits the investors and partners the startup has aligned with, who have “either made it” or “have either the skills we don’t have,” for achieving the mind-boggling acceleration that they have a 12-month view. .

“You can really step up together.

“And that’s what we got.”

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