Byrd, the e-commerce fulfilment startup, has closed a $56 million Series C round to continue its rapid growth. The investment, coming on top of a smaller round last year, means the company has raised $75 million in just ten months.
The latest investment round was led by Cambridge Capital. Matt Smalley, a Principal at Cambridge Capital who will be joining Byrd’s board, said it was one of the fastest-growing companies they had seen. “We were convinced by their tech-driven approach and proprietary warehouse management software, which enables Byrd to run an asset-light fulfilment network.”
The round also saw participation by Speedinvest, Mouro Capital, Elevator Ventures along with previous investors. The funding will support further growth and additional features, helping to secure its position as a leading independent fulfilment platform.
Byrd’s co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Petra Dobrocka, spoke to TFN about the company and its plans.
Satisfying the ever more demanding consumer
Dobrocka began working for startups even before graduating, working in marketing and sales for various companies. Although not directly involved, she began to realise the importance of logistics. When she returned to Austria in 2016 she was introduced to her fellow co-founders Alex Leichter and Sebastian Mach by mutual friends and realised their skill sets complemented each other. “They were still looking for somebody to take care of marketing and sales,” said Dobrocka. “Because Sebastian is a tech guy and Alex comes more from the finance side of things, they knew if you have an idea, you also need somebody who can sell it.”
The fulfilment process is a crucial part of e-commerce. Although businesses may focus on their product, consumers also demand rapid fulfilment. The expectation, or even impatience, of customers, has been fuelled by giants like Amazon who offer next-day, or even same-day, delivery. But the logistics of fulfilment can be at best an inconvenience, and at worst difficult, for businesses that need to get their products to customers.
Founded by Christoph Krofitsch, Petra Dobrocka, Sebastian Mach, and Alexander Leichter in 2016, Byrd started life as a solution to that problem, enabling small businesses to match the logistical clout of somewhere like Amazon, with rapid fulfilment from their warehouses. It also easily integrates with their existing systems. “We used to be very focused on SMEs,” Dobrocka explained. “Now we also have bigger companies as customers. Like Campari or Durex, who understand that direct to consumer is a trend that’s going to stay.”
Continuing rapid growth
Their model has grown rapidly. Having started in Austria, they now have a presence in seven countries, including the UK. The new funds will be used to strengthen byrd’s presence in existing markets by expanding the local teams, and will allow byrd to launch in Sweden, Denmark, and Poland later this year. This will create the largest connected and independent e-commerce fulfillment network in Europe, with over 30 warehouse locations across 10 European countries. Their warehouses and service even link with Amazon, meaning clients aren’t forced to choose between Byrd or the huge marketplace Amazon offers.
“We have a lot of retailers who already sell through Amazon, but they’re not using Amazon FBA for their fulfilment, but choose to be more independent,” said Dobrocka. Usually, this would mean that retailers could not be listed as ‘Prime’. “The Prime badge is becoming more and more important, it makes a difference to your listing’s position. Our more successful retailers need the badge to be successful and to maximise their sales.” Using Byrd, as a third-party logistics company, enables companies to apply for Prime listings without using Fulfilled by Amazon, giving retailers, and Byrd, a competitive advantage, says Dobrocka. “It’s actually quite rare to have third-party solutions that offer Prime.”
Byrd plans to continue their growth. They are looking at entering three more markets over the summer period — before pausing growth to focus on the hectic Black Friday and Christmas seasons — while also increasing their team to 400 by the end of the year, which is currently at 230. They’re also planning to open offices in Berlin, Vienna, London, Paris, Barcelona and Milan.
byrd will also launch support for Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime programme, allowing it to tap into the large market of successful Amazon sellers who are looking for an alternative to FBA. The company will also invest significant resources into new integrations with additional shop systems, ERP systems and other order management software, such as Xentral for the German market and PrestaShop for France.
They will also be adding to their offer, including B2B services and enhancing the processes around their returns handling, for example, to offer a full service to their clients. “I think the exciting thing about e-commerce fulfilment is that there are so many different product categories,” said Dobrocka. “At the moment, we’re really good at some of them. But for every new category, there’s always something special that you still need and that’s what we’re working on step by step, making the pool of potential customers larger.”
Byrd’s biggest challenge is meeting the unique demands of each new market they enter. “The markets are quite fragmented, and in some countries setting up can take months,” Dobrocka explained. “For each country, there are small things you just need to know, then you have to pick the best carrier, that’s preferred by end-consumers, then build integrations. It’s always a big project to set it all up.”
Despite the challenges, Dobrocka and her fellow co-founders are ambitious for the future: “we don’t just want to stop at the ten countries, we really want to cover all of Europe offering next-day shipping. That’s where we’re going.”
Since raising its Series B last summer, byrd has doubled its customer base and doubled its average revenue per customer, serving brands like Freeletics, Durex and Campari. Their total warehouse capacity across Europe has also almost tripled to almost 450.000 square meters.