Amsterdam-based e-commerce scaleup Dwarfs announced that it has raised €7.5M in its Series A round of funding. The company aims to acquire 20 successful online marketplaces (with revenues ranging from €0.5M to €10M) this year alone to pursue exponential growth both at home and at the international level.
Besides this funding, Dwarfs has also announced that soon it will be supplemented by several tens of millions in “venture debt”.
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Current and future investors
The current Series A round saw participation from investors and financiers, including American investment firms. The round’s capital was brought together by the founders, as well as a group of informal investors, Dutch investor Solid Ventures and two American private investment firms.
FJ Labs participated in over 600 ventures over the past years, including several marketplaces. Harlan Capital previously provided growth capital to the American company Thrasio, a digital consumer goods company that acquires private label Amazon FBA businesses and direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands.
After Dwarfs’ Series A round, the e-commerce scaleup aims to accumulate sufficient capital for its first planned acquisitions. When Dwarfs gains access to “venture debt” in a later phase, its ambition is to acquire tens of companies across the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and France over the next few years. Within 18 months to two years, Dwarfs envisions a second financing round (Series B), in which American investors have already expressed their interest.
Aim of this fundraise
According to Dwarfs CEO Demian Beenakker, “In Europe, the market for acquisitions of small, successful e-commerce enterprises in these sectors is not yet fully mature, because venture capitalists here are looking for significantly bigger ‘investment tickets’. The Americans, on the other hand, are well aware of the growth potential of this market, since it has been consolidating and simply exploding in size across the Atlantic since 2018. Dutch venture capitalists may be suffering from cold feet, or they just don’t see the potential yet. We’re going to be a first-mover in this market.”
The founders, a team of experienced e-commerce entrepreneurs and online marketplace including Demian Beenakker, Bas Urlings, and Michiel van der Meer, have ambitious plans. This year alone, Dwarfs is aiming for approximately 20 acquisitions, with 50 to 60 acquisitions planned within the next three years.
Dwarfs – aims to buy and grow e-commerce brands on marketplaces
E-commerce scaleup Dwarfs invests in online stores with revenues ranging from €0.5M to €10M. The company claims to be the first e-commerce scaleup in the Netherlands aiming to acquire and consolidate online stores with rapid growth on the bol.com partner platform (LVB – Logistics via bol.com) and in some cases internationally through Amazon (FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon).
The upscaling of production, purchasing, logistics, customer care, and marketing are often associated with cost increases, including the administrative burdens of international expansion and cross-border sales. Dwarfs help sellers make their online stores successful, among other things, by rapidly scaling up their business activities and multiplying their revenues in a short period of time.
Dwarfs’ CEO Beenakker says, “The backbone of our company is the unprecedented experience that our management team has accumulated with e-commerce and growth through marketplaces. They are supported by a ‘growth team’, consisting of very talented data specialists and LVB and FBA experts. That gives us an enormous added value when it comes to spotting high-potential acquisitions and, after obtaining the assets (company, brand, stocks, sourcing, etc.), to help the online revenues of these relatively small companies and brands realise significant growth at a rapid pace.”
The Dwarfs management team consists of Demian Beenakker (founder, CEO), Bar Urlings (founder, Chief Marketing Officer), Marco Coninx (Chief Growth Officer), Didos van Dam (Chief Financial Officer), Michiel van der Meer (Chief Operating Officer) and Tim Stribos (Chief Technology Officer).
What companies will Dwarfs acquire?
Dwarfs’ shareholders, Solid Ventures and two American private investment firms have said they see potential in this market segment, which has yet to reach maturity in Europe. In North America, the market segment of online sellers (companies and brands) has been consolidating rapidly over the past three years and has now developed into the fastest-growing e-commerce market in 20 years.
In terms of acquisition candidates, Dwarfs is currently focusing on Dutch online stores using the bol.com partner platform LVB as their primary sales platform that are looking to expand their (international) sales while streamlining their organisation and keeping costs under control.
Dwarfs is primarily interested in marketplaces selling garden & outdoor, tools & home improvement, health & household, pet supplies, and sports & outdoors goods. The company has chosen not to focus on online stores trading in products with return flows (such as fashion and lifestyle products) or products that require specialised advice, maintenance, and repair (such as electronics, smart home products, and computers).
Dwarfs’ process after each acquisition
The online ‘growth experts’ will take over the operation of the online store, taking the burdens associated with growth away from the entrepreneur. By operating more efficiently and focusing on growth through local and international marketplaces, the online store’s team can focus exclusively on its strengths. “That way, we’re able to grow the margins and achieve a five-fold or ten-fold revenue very quickly,” says Beenhakker.
Market opportunity via Bol.com
From 2006, Amazon began to allow for third-party sales through its platform (FBA), wherein Amazon operates the fulfilment, covering logistics, invoicing and sales across multiple countries at once. The FBA market in the US has now encompassed about 62 per cent of Amazon’s annual revenues of $475B.
Beenakker says, “For US consumers, product search through Amazon has already become more important than Google search. Europe is only seeing the start of an e-commerce 3.0 wave with unprecedented potential, which will be dominated here, too, by marketplaces and partner platforms. Bol.com’s LVB partner platform already yields some €6B in revenues. Opportunities are plentiful because that’s just the Netherlands we’re talking about.”
Dwarfs first acquisition – AMCO
With this Series A funding, the Dutch e-commerce scaleup Dwarfs announced the acquisition of AMCO, the online store for kitchen products and accessories. With this development, AMCO’s owner-director Marco Coninx will reinvest part of the takeover bid into Dwarfs and will also join the Dwarfs management team as Chief Growth Officer (CGO).
Beenakker says, “AMCO is an ideal acquisition candidate for us because the company has a lot of e-commerce experience and it was run very efficiently by its founder Marco Coninx. He managed to prepare his company for a bright future on local, regional and international marketplaces. In addition to that, Marco also wanted to be part of the Dwarfs management team. Undeniably, his knowledge and expertise will make a major contribution to the future success of Dwarfs.”
AMCO was founded in 2014 by Marco Coninx. The company realises an annual revenue of approx €6M.
Speaking on the development, Coninx says, “After two turbulent years in 2018 and 2019, in which we decided to streamline our product range and shrank from 18 employees to just three, in early 2020 we saw our sales explode through the marketplaces of bol.com and Amazon. Sales rose so rapidly that we urgently needed extra capital and people to come on board. Instead of scaling up ourselves, we chose to sell the company to Dwarfs. They have the capital and the right people to help the business grow exponentially at home and abroad over the coming years. I am very confident in their unique concept.”
He further adds, “Small online resellers will have to scale up or be pushed out. That’s why I chose to sell, but also to reinvest part of the acquisition bid in Dwarfs. Because as an e-commerce scaleup, I’m confident the company will expand rapidly in the coming years.”
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