Goldman Sachs leads funding round for Toronto consumer products platform Hubba
Toronto startup Hubba Inc. has landed a venture capital investment from Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, an early backer of Uber, Facebook and Pinterest, as it aims to ramp up efforts to build a business-to-business marketplace for consumer product information.
Hubba CEO and co-founder Ben Zifkin said the Series B venture financing will enable the five-year old company to triple its 45-person employee count by the end of next year “and build out a massive global institution in Toronto.” The company previously raised $11-million (Cdn) in its first venture capital financing a year ago from Canadian backers including Real Ventures, Kensington Venture Fund, Brightspark Ventures. Hubba is not disclosing the size of the Goldman-led round, but Mr. Zifkin indicated early this year the company was looking to raise four times the amount of its previous raise in its next funding round.
Hubba’s platform brings together consumer products purveyors and the retailers they sell to. Product makers provide photos, videos and product information on the site, which is set up to be “a single source of truth” for merchants to use for flyers, training and other uses, Mr. Zifkin said. Hubba says more than 40,000 companies use its platform, including consumer products giants AB InBev, Unilver and retail giant Walmart, up fourfold from a year ago.
There is no charge for product companies to list or merchants to access basic product information, but Hubba is planning to charge “prime” users for more detailed information once it has a significant network of users on both sides of the platform, including insights into data it gathers. Purveyors of new “craft” brands can also pay to use the platform to promote their wares to retailers through promotions and internal ad words, similar to what Google does. “We have relationships and insights into every product and brand,” Mr. Zifkin said, adding the company plans to build 45 services into its offering.
Hubba is led by a veteran management team. Mr. Zifkin previously built and sold a management consultancy and specialty system integration firm and was an early employee at one of Toronto’s most successful startups in the 2000s, Workbrain, which was bought by Infor Global Solutions in 2007. Co-founder and chief operating officer Howard Lis was an original partner at GMP Securities and Chris Jordan, head of business development, led the enterprise specialty software group at BlackBerry Ltd. in its heyday. Chief Product officer Johnathan Nightingale was previously a senior executive with Mozilla’s Firefox division.
Mr. Zifkin says the company, with between $1-million (U.S.) and $5-million in annual revenue, doesn’t think of itself as a startup but a “supertanker” in the making, with hopes to hit $100-million in annual revenue and go public by 2021.
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