A “game-changing” online platform, which works to bring retail buyers and suppliers together and counts John Lewis, Tesco and TK Maxx amongst its customers, has secured a six-figure investment.
Glasgow-based start-up firm, Product Guru is described as “Tinder for retail buyers and product suppliers”. The product discovery platform, founded by Simon Coyle last year, allows retail buyers to compare thousands of relevant products from UK and overseas suppliers in a uniform way, enabling users to select the categories of interest, so they are ever looking at the products that are relevant to them. Buyers can then use the platform’s filtering tools to narrow down the selections to products that meet their exact criteria.
Mr Coyle said: “I am painfully aware of the challenge (for both buyers and suppliers) in getting the right products in the right hands at the right time.
“Retail buyers are inundated with product samples and information, and with no meaningful process in place to review these options, opportunities were being missed for both parties.”
Financial backing worth £300,000 has come from Asia-based Belmond Capital, Scotmid and Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise – the business support agency – contributed an £82,000 grant via its Innovation funding scheme; a further £160,000 was delivered through equity with the balance from smaller grants and other incomes.
Product Guru’s Simon Coyle said of the new round of funding and his motivation for the business: “After running my own companies for nearly 20 years, I have first-hand experience of how difficult it can be for emerging brands to get their products in front of retail buyers.
“From the retailers’ point-of-view, they may have lots of customer-facing modern technologies in their stores – such as automated checkouts or digital ads – but Product Guru is the first technology platform to shake-up their back-office product discovery operations and make it easier for them to discover the latest trends and find exciting new products for their customers.
“This £300,000 investment will allow us to further develop our platform for both buyers and suppliers with analytics and intelligent recommendations, while marketing our services to a much wider audience.”
Belmond Capital managing partner and founder Patricia Poon said: “Product Guru is solving problems on both sides of the fence – it allows both local and international emerging brands to get their products in front of buyers and it allows retailers to stay on trend and choose from a wide selection of options cost effectively at the click of a button.
"Product Guru’s intelligent platform digitises retailers’ product discovery workflows, and greatly improves the productivity of retail buyers.
“Belmond Capital invests in companies that are disrupting their markets, across retail, financial services, communications and industrial sectors. Product Guru fits perfectly into our portfolio and I’m looking forward to working with Simon to add more intelligent functionalities, and to scale the platform both in the UK and internationally.”
Scottish Enterprise’s Paul Cross added: “What’s most exciting about Product Guru is that it helps brands and distributors get their products under the noses of influential buyers.
“Simon is not only growing his own business but is also helping other emerging brands and smaller companies – in Scotland and elsewhere – to grow as well.
“Backing businesses like Product Guru is at the heart of the Scottish Enterprise’s mission. Technology has revolutionised so many parts of our working lives and it looks like Product Guru is now set to change the way that buyers and suppliers do business.”
Product Guru operates a “freemium business model”, with basic features free for suppliers and retailers. The option of a paid subscription service is then available to brands wanting access to sales analytics, product engagement data, and product trends.