By Nancy Dahlberg
Led by a team of industry veterans, unybrands, a new Miami Beach-based startup, announced today it has raised a $25 million seed round and launched its integrated platform for e-commerce businesses looking to scale their operations.
The funding round includes Nordstar, DIA Management, Nathan Blecharczyk of Airbnb, 166 2nd Financial Services, Day One Ventures, Brian McGrath of Jefferies, Benvolio Group and others.
Ulrich Kratz, CEO of unybrands, says the company acquires promising e-commerce businesses on and off Amazon -- for instance, high-quality micro-businesses in certain categories that have achieved $1 million to $5 million in revenues and are growing -- and then unybrands integrates them into a shared set of resources, optimizes the business operations and economics, and expands to new product lines and geographies, handling everything from supply chain to marketing. The company, founded in 2020, has already made a few acquisitions.
CEO Ulrich Kratz (pictured above) said that interest in authentic micro-brands on e-commerce platforms is exploding, but that doesn’t mean the founders have the resources and the expertise to sustainably operate and scale their businesses once they hit that certain level.
"We can buy their businesses, reward them for what they've built, and then take it to the next level on our platform," said Kratz, who is currently in Hawaii but will be relocating unybrands to a headquarters office in Miami Beach next month. "We can make a real difference and be the missing plug in a system that Amazon and Shopify have created, but we can also build a great company that can grow very fast."
unybrands was founded by Kratz, formerly of Goldman Sachs and Barclays, Eugen Miropolski, formerly of Wework and Airbnb, and Christian Harnischfeger, formerly of Morgan Stanley and DIA. Miropolski and Harischfeger will run offices in Berlin and London. The company also has an office in Seattle.
Last week, competitors Thrasio and Branded raised new rounds of venture funding, proving the viability of this new business model and growing interest from Amazon entrepreneurs looking to sell. So what sets unybrands apart?
"We're super selective" on acquisitions, Kratz said. Unybrands only focuses on certain categories, including personal care, pet care, selected household products, supplements, baby products, and sports/fitness. “And we’ve built a fantastic team with great experience and talent, and we all share a common vision focused on long- term success and sustainability – that’s what truly sets us apart,” he said.
The startup is currently a team of 15, and at least five or six team members will be relocating to Miami Beach, along with Kratz. Kratz was married in Miami in 2011 but then the couple was relocated to Europe for a number of years. When he and his wife decided to move back to the States at the end of 2019, he knew he wanted to do something entrepreneurial but decided to take a break before that. That break was kite-surfing in Hawaii, but a few weeks after arriving, so did COVID. Kratz said he did manage to get a few months of kite-surfing in before beginning work on unybrands in mid-2020 with his co-founders.
"Miami for us is just awesome. It's a great place to live, there is a great talent base, and it works really well with the time zone because we run our business cross-Atlantic." All of the founders speak at least three languages, Kratz said. He also said he's found that a lot of the most promising sellers on Amazon are often from Florida.
This story was updated. Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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