The new year has started with a bang for European start-ups, many of which have achieved unicorn status.
Considered by many to be the anti-Amazon company of the bloc, Ankorstore has become the second French start-up to reach a valuation of over a billion dollars (884 million euros) in 2022.
In January, the company, which sells everything from household goods to food and fashion, raised another 250 million euros in new investments, taking its valuation to 1.75 billion euros.
The marketplace platform connects independent brands and designers with registered retailers, florists, cafes and other concept stores across Europe, enabling them to sell more varied stock than can be found on major e-commerce sites or large retail chains.
The Paris-based company has more than 200,000 independent retailers on its platform and 15,000 brands in 23 EU countries.
What’s impressive about Ankorstore is that it achieved elusive unicorn status just two years after its launch in 2019, founded by four French e-commerce entrepreneurs who wanted to change our shopping habits.
“We’re entrepreneurs, we’re investors, dads, we have kids, and we don’t want to live in a world where we’re on our couch, we watch TV and we order on Amazon and the products are sent and we let’s never leave our house,” the company’s co-founder and CEO, Nicolas d’Audiffret, told Euronews Next.
“Our ambition is to help independent traders because they are the ones who make the charm of our towns and villages and who ensure the social life of our neighborhoods.
To back that up, d’Audiffret said it’s important for the company to have the technology tools that allow independent retailers to ride out the tide of big business and have the ability to create jobs.
The marketplace is initially free for brands, but they are then charged a commission on the sales they make. The company also offers free shipping so there are no losses on small orders.
With the new €250 million investment, the company hopes to expand its reach across Europe and sign up more countries. Ankorstore also wants to improve its technology.
“Our merchants and our brands have a huge need for software, as we say computer software, to help them better manage their business,” said d’Audiffret.
“What we like is creating technological tools, putting them in the hands of independent entrepreneurs and seeing them create new markets with that and then diversify.”
While the platform can bring more originality to stores, it won’t bring down a giant like Amazon, d’Audiffret said. Instead, it foresees a mix of both models shaping the way we shop in the future.
“If you need diapers or ink cartridges delivered overnight or next day, whether or not that’s the cheapest way, Amazon can’t be beat and so Amazon will continue to grow,” he said. .
“But if you want to go for a walk on the weekend, discover beautiful products, and make a beautiful gift, then for me, nothing better than an independent retailer who has a concept and a passion.”
He believes that it is this second distribution segment that will be successful in the years to come, but that the companies that fall between these two business models will probably disappear.
“We want to help this second segment, which is really the independents who are fighting not to offer the most at the lowest possible price, but who are also fighting to carry out particular experiences for buyers who want original and authentic products. “, d’Audiffret said.