Pointy raises $12m in funding in drive to speed-up growth

Irish retail tech firm gives small retailers a new way to make their stock visible online

Founders Charles Bibby and Mark Cummins:  the Pointy app directs shoppers to where particular items are available locally, rather than pushing them towards ecommerce giants such as Amazon. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

Founders Charles Bibby and Mark Cummins: the Pointy app directs shoppers to where particular items are available locally, rather than pushing them towards ecommerce giants such as Amazon. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

 

Irish retail tech firm Pointy has raised $12 million in funding as the company looks to accelerate its growth.

The fresh funding comes following a $6 million funding round in September last year and an initial seed round in March 2015.

The latest round was led by Polaris Capital, with Vulcan Capital also participating. Among the company’s investors are Draper Associates, Frontline Ventures, Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg, cofounder of Google Maps Lars Rasmussen, Transferwise cofounder Taavet Hinrikus and Bebo cofounder Michael Birch.

Founded in 2014 by Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby, Pointy gives small retailers a way to make their stock visible online without having to invest in a full ecommerce system. The app directs shoppers to where particular items are available locally, rather than pushing them towards ecommerce giants such as Amazon.

Retailers connect the “Pointy box” into the shop’s barcode scanner and then use their scanner as normal. The device is pre-paired with Pointy’s website. Once the retailer starts using the scanner, the system uses algorithms and machine learning to estimate stock levels.

‘Leaking business’

“We’re experiencing pretty rapid growth in the UK, the US and Ireland, and this investment will help us grow to keep up with that demand,” said Cummins. “People spend a huge amount of time looking up products online. Smaller shops don’t have a lot of visibility online. They are leaking business. This series B round will help us bring even more of them online.

“Startups are an uncertain journey. You never really know what’s going to happen. This gives us room to manoeuvre to get it right.”

The company signed several partnerships this year, with point of sale firms Lightspeed, Clover and Square to get more bricks and mortar stores online. It also partnered Google last month on new feature “See What’s in Store”.

“The ingenuity of the Pointy solution is matched only by the sheer size and scale of the market opportunity,” said Noel Ruane, partner with Polaris Partners. “The partnerships Pointy has developed with companies like Google and Square is further testament to Pointy’s capabilities.”

Visible online

With the majority of spending still taking place in local bricks and mortar stores, Pointy helps these stores to become visible online. Cummins indicated to research that showed shoppers often turn to online stores because they don’t know where to source the products locally.

Pointy says 5,500 retailers are now using the service across Ireland, the US, Canada and Britain

“For all the hype around ecommerce and the media narrative of ‘Retail Apocalypse’, people still make the vast majority of their purchases in local stores. But local retailers have lost out in not having their products visible online – we solve that problem for them,” said Cummins.

Expanding workforce

The company, which recently moved into new offices in Dublin, is expanding its workforce, adding about 25 new jobs in engineering, marketing, sales, customer support, product design and graphic design roles.

The firm says 5,500 retailers are now using the service across Ireland, the US, Canada and Britain. Three-quarters of these are in the US, with the reminder split between Canada, Britain and Ireland.

“We are just scratching the surface,” Cummins said.