Partly has raised $1.7 million from an all star consortium of international and domestic investors led by Australasia’s venture capital investor, Blackbird Ventures, with Hillfarrance Ventures and Icehouse Ventures as co-investors.
The company has included an additional 11 angel investors including Rocket Lab Founder Peter Beck and ex-Head of eBay Motors UK, Tony Austin. $1.7 million seed capital has been raised in one of Christchurch’s largest seed rounds.
The funds will be used to rapidly scale the startup’s growth with an estimated 17 roles now ready to fill and a pipeline of customers from over 13 countries around the world.
Partly helps parts businesses unlock billions of parts currently offline and connects them with buyers around the globe. There are more than 85 billion auto parts in the world and few are easily tracked or visible online. Partly solves this problem. The worldwide automotive parts market is worth $1.9 trillion annually.
Partly founder and CEO, Levi Fawcett was, until recently, part of the Rocket Lab’s senior engineering team. He and his co-founders, Nathan Taylor and Mark Song, burst onto the startup scene in 2017 with an online marketplace connecting New Zealand SMEs with customers. Within 18 months, they had more than 50,000 monthly users purchasing from more than 1,000 New Zealand businesses.
But a pattern had started to emerge and it wouldn’t be long before that pattern would drive Levi’s next leap of faith. “We began to notice that automotive businesses in particular struggled to sell online but they couldn’t use standard tools – such as Shopify – because automotive parts data is so complex.”
To solve this problem, a little over three months ago, Levi’s team launched Partly. Within four weeks of launching, the true global potential of Partly became evident and Levi recognised the need for capital in order to scale the venture to satisfy the extreme demand they were experiencing.
As one of the first teams to enter the central city startup hub, Te Ōhaka – Centre for Growth & Innovation (a partnership between Ara Institute of Canterbury, Ministry of Awesome, and ChristchurchNZ) Levi was able to access the support he needed to rapidly grow his startup.
“Being a high growth startup at Te Ōhaka has been extremely useful, particularly because of the network and the community here,” he says.
“As a startup, being able to surround yourself with people who think in a similar way, who have been through similar experiences and being able to call on a network of experts are the most valuable advantages of being part of Te Ōhaka and and been a key part of our journey.”
Providing a nest for high-growth startups and ambitious students to work together in building Christchurch and New Zealand’s future global success stories is a role Ministry of Awesome Chief Awesome Officer Marian Johnson loves.
“Partly is one of several success stories coming through the Te Ōhaka pipeline and proof of how the combination and density of startup talent, students, commercial partners such as Wynn Williams and EY creates the kind of engineered density that results in the high value enterprises we need in New Zealand’s future,” says Johnson.
After seeing incredible early traction, Partly participated in a “practice pitch session” set up by Johnson for Te Ōhaka startups to receive exposure and feedback from important global investors, including Blackbird and Hillfarrance.
Partly pitched at both first calls and received intense and immediate interest from both parties. Within just four weeks, Partly confirmed venture capital firm, Blackbird Ventures, as the lead, and new arrival, Hillfarrance Ventures with Icehouse Ventures as a follow.
Blackbird Partner, Samantha Wong, who led the deal, says, “The magic of Partly is equal parts team and market. I was impressed by the founders’ sense of urgency, and hunger to deliver an amazing experience for customers, even sleeping overnight in their first customer’s workshop to get them online. This is matched by their hunger to conquer the world right from the beginning from New Zealand, and the juicy network effects that are starting to emerge in the business model.”
Hillfarrance Venture Capital Managing Partner, Rob Vickery, says, “We love dynamic groups of entrepreneurs who are tackling giant markets that would benefit from a new injection of innovation into their industry. Partly is doing just with the auto parts market and building a platform and data set that will become the gold standard for all members of the value chain. We are honoured and excited to work with Levi, Nathan, Mark and the rest of Team Partly to realise their vision and help them access new international markets.”
Partly has paying customers across 13 countries and is growing fast, with 17 roles now ready to fill within the exciting startup from right here in Christchurch. “We’re excited about making a difference to our local and national economy,” Levi says.
“We’re fundamentally changing the global parts industry and need smart people to help us solve hard problems. The future is looking very strong for Partly.”