Ex-Rocket Lab engineer raises $21 million for Partly to make buying car parts easier TechCrunch

Auto parts buyers require specific parts to fit specific vehicles, creating a supply-constrained environment. based in New Zealand Partial wants to reduce those constraints by connecting parts buyers around the world with precision parts.

The two-year-old startup is not a car parts market. Instead, Partly powers marketplaces like eBay and Shopify with a database of more than 50 million parts from over 20,000 suppliers and OEMs.

“In principle, the way technology works is that we work with vendors to collect, structure, and normalize all the data,” co-founder and CEO Levi Fawcett told TechCrunch. .

The company then manages that data and pushes that data back to the major platforms that buyers are using to find auto parts.

The startup on Monday closed a $21 million Series A to continue growing in Europe, where the majority of its customer base is — in addition to marketplaces like eBay, Partly also works with The United Nations and several unnamed Fortune 500 companies. The startup also aims to use the money to scale more aggressively in the US, where the company is actively renting and building offices. Most importantly, the money will help Partly double down on its engineering team to tackle the core problem of aggregating all the exact parts of a vehicle based on the license plate alone.

“It sounds simple, but it’s a huge deal,” said Fawcett, noting that Partly’s 50-person team will have more than 100 employees by the end of next year.

Partly’s second goal, besides expanding the business, is to represent New Zealand on the world stage. With a top customer base and no direct competitors, the startup aims to be the largest New Zealand-based tech company within five years. To do that, it will have to compete with Xero, which is publicly traded on the Australian Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization of around $7.4 billion, according to Google Finance data.

Fawcett, who previously managed and developed hardware simulations at Rocket Lab, said the opportunity to connect part buyers with precision parts was “monstrous.” In the US alone, consumers spent nearly 95.4 billion USD motor vehicle parts and accessories by 2021. The auto parts and accessories market is expected to reach a global market size of 2.5 trillion USD to 2024.

“About 98% of the parts ordered today are done over the phone by a parts interpreter and their job is to take the call, understand what they’re looking for, find it in the system, find out what vehicle it came from, decide if there is any difference or if it is modified when coming from another country, then provide the buyer with the right part, Fawcett said. “It’s the whole process that we’re turning upside down. Instead, you enter your license plate number and then select the part you want. It basically takes a super-ancient process and completely changes it by eliminating humans.”

Previously, the problem had not been solved on a large scale because it required collaboration between vehicle manufacturers, aftermarket parts manufacturers and retailers, and building a common language. so that all information between manufacturers is consistent. This not only makes it easier for buyers, but also sellers who want to better understand their customers.

“In the case of the United Nations, we power the World Food Program, one of the largest armies in the world,” says Fawcett. “They have this huge network where their garage needs to buy parts, they need to centralize the data to understand things like volume discounts, correct parts for all vehicles, etc. I power that system to connect buyers and sellers, but we do it B2B.

Part of it is that following the B2B model will be the secret formula needed to scale and the startup has clearly convinced investors of its growth potential.

Rob Coneybeer, managing director and co-founder of Shasta Ventures, one of the investors participating in the round, told TechCrunch that VCs are attracted to “huge markets with compelling founders that are solving solve important consumer problems.”

“One of the biggest opportunities in the world is that the $500 billion aftermarket auto parts market has been disrupted,” said Coneybeer. “Levi and his team have developed a solution that makes it much easier and faster to find the right part, resulting in higher in-market conversion rates, lower profits, and customers. much more satisfied. Their solution is based on years of hard work in engineering allowing them to scale rapidly from delivering $150 million in annual orders today to billions of dollars.”

Partly’s Series A is led by Octopus Ventures. In addition to Shasta, participating investors include Square Peg, Blackbird, Ten13, Square Co-Founder Randy Redigg, Hillfarrance, and I2BF. Existing investors such as Figma CEO Dylan Field, Notion Co-Founder Akshay Kothari and Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck also participated.

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