Wellington e-commerce start-up Storbie has successfully raised $1.5 million in capital which it says will be used to fast-track its expansion in Australia.
Storbie, which for the past four years has been focused on getting community pharmacies trading online, raised the investment privately in tranches from 10 investors.
It raised $1 million at the end of 2019 and more recently has raised another $500,000 from the same investors.
Founded in 2009, Storbie hopes to have 1000 Australian pharmacies signed on to its subscription platform by November 2022, and it forecasts that Australia will become its largest market by the end of March, surpassing its main business in New Zealand.
It anticipates it will add another 350 to its database in Australian business next year.
More than 250 pharmacies in New Zealand and 100 in Australia currently use its "DIY platform" to power their e-commerce stores.
The e-commerce platform launched in Australia 10 months ago. It began its journey making general purpose websites for a wide range of retailers but in recent years been working on an industry-by-industry approach, focused firstly on the pharmacy sector.
One in four local community pharmacies use a Storbie web platform, it claims.
Shane Bartle, chief executive of Storbie, said the fresh capital would be spent on developing its technology and putting more resource into sales and marketing to meet its triple-digit targets across the ditch.
"The primary focus for us is to do something similar in Australia to what we have achieved here in New Zealand," Bartle told the Herald. He said there was huge opportunity across the Tasman as many independently branded pharmacies were yet to have a trading website.
Bartle said the business was gearing up to launch into "another industry". He was tight-lipped on the details.
"We'll do pharmacy, and then we'll find another industry where we think we can add value and focus on that. We're not planning on being just community pharmacy, we're planning on being in industries where we think that the way we can work will add value."
Covid-19 has been beneficial for Storbie, and business had never been better, Bartle said. To meet demand, the company temporarily redeployed sales staff to more development roles to aid a faster delivery of sites, it also simplified its product through the lockdown period.
Its sign-ons in April were up 650 per cent on the same month a year earlier and experienced another spike and 380 per cent increase in August following the regional lockdown in Auckland, he said.
"We were really grateful to be finding ourselves seemingly part of the solution during that time - we were working as hard as we could to respond," Bartle said.
"We're certainly seeing sustained growth, and we've more than doubled our revenue in the financial year."
The idea for Storbie was thought up in 2007 and launched after 18 months under development. It was inspired by Trade Me and founded to make it easy for brands to create an online marketplace.
Its development work is done in New Zealand. It employs 18 staff, 17 based in Wellington and one in Melbourne, and makes most of its revenue from monthly website fees.