RangeMe - which has teamed up with FoodNavigator-USA's publisher William Reed Business Media to help facilitate new product discovery at The Healthy and Natural Show - has taken the Australian market by storm since its launch there in March 2014 (New Zealand quickly followed).
However, it has already snagged some high-profile partners in the US eight months after launching here, including Jet.com, Heinen’s, Bristol Farms, LuckyVitamin and Target, which now asks all prospective suppliers to make their approach via RangeMe.
"Since launching in the US, in September 2015, RangeMe has generated more than 30,000 product reviews by retail buyers," said CEO and Founder Nicky Jackson, who said the cash injection would support the platform’s “exponential growth.”
"This capital will enable RangeMe to further dominate the online product discovery space in the US market... Investors have recognized our first class tech platform and market leadership and have backed us to expand our platform and operations significantly. We are already working with over 11,000 unique and innovative brands and the investment will see us grow this number substantially.”
RangeMe, which raised capital in 2015 from Australian angel and seed investors including former Metcash chief executive Andrew Reitzer, has now added the following as US seed investors:
- Freestyle Capital
- Simon Equity Partners
- Transmedia Capital
- Kevin Hartz, founder and chairman, Eventbrite
- Steve Jang, Uber advisor
- JGL Investments (Australia)
It has also appointed Josh Felser from Freestyle Capital to its Board and Steve Jang (Uber advisor) as an advisor.
It’s solving a real pain point in the industry
The algorithms underpinning RangeMe are complex, but the user experience is simple, according to Jackson.
"Suppliers just submit a product image, description and key metrics, such as gross margin, MSRP, full year sales, current retail customers, and certifications (eg. USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified).
"Buyers in turn then log in to the [web-based] platform, select the categories they manage so that only relevant products show up on their buyer dashboard, and then move through the dashboard and click ‘Interested’, ‘Not Interested’ or ‘Shortlist’."
An email notification is then sent to suppliers in whom buyers are interested (if buyers selected ‘not interested’ or ‘shortlist’, suppliers only see that someone from the retailer in question has viewed their products), added Jackson, who has a background in CPG sales, marketing and brand management with chip brands including PepsiCo and Kellogg.
“From there, buyers can request samples, and start a conversation. But we’re not replacing brokers or face to face events, we’re just streamlining the product discovery process so suppliers can get their products in front of the right people, and buyers can minimize the time consuming process of receiving ongoing calls and emails with incomplete product proposals.
"It’s solving a real pain point in the industry."
A lot of pitches from new suppliers go into a black hole
Indeed, almost everyone Jackson has pitched the platform to over the past three years has used the term “no brainer”, she observed.
“At the moment, buyers are getting contacted via online forms on their websites, email, social media, at trade shows and other events and via brokers and agents, and a lot of it really just goes into a black hole because everyone is presenting the information in a different way and half of it is not relevant. RangeMe is just a much more efficient way to manage inbound approaches.”
Suppliers using RangeMe, meanwhile, are more likely to get their products in front of the right people, with several telling Jackson that they had repeatedly tried other methods of contacting certain retailers, but only got a response when they joined RangeMe.
How much does it cost?
So how does RangeMe – which has offices in Sydney and San Francisco - make money?
Right now, it’s free to use for retailers and suppliers, as the platform build critical mass, although in the summer, RangeMe will launch a premium service ($99 per month) to suppliers that want to upgrade to take advantage of features that will help them stand out in the crowd.