A $4.2 million seed round co-led by Harlem Capital and Crossbeam Venture Partners has closed, according to the e-commerce platform Gander.
With this seed, Gander creator Kimiloluwa Fafowora, 26, joins the small but rising group of Black women who have successfully raised $1 million or more in venture capital funding, an accomplishment that just 250 have accomplished. According to Fafowora, the inspiration for the product arose from her personal needs as an online shopper. She was looking for a simpler method to think about the things she wanted to purchase.
According to Fafowora, "The internet doesn't really have a lot of the characteristics that are very important for bringing items to life."
She created Gander in late 2021 to address this issue. Gander gathers and incorporates user-generated video content into retail websites, allowing customers to see how a product appears in real life. Brands may access the video content directly through the creator marketplace on Gander. With the additional funding, Fafowora plans to focus on further developing the business while increasing hiring on her technical and sales teams.
"We've created our product such that we acquire vital data that will really humanize e-commerce firms' storefronts in a way that makes them as accessible as possible," Fafowora concluded. “The customer is made to feel as good about shopping as possible thanks to that.”
With a keen understanding of the need to humanize online buying, Fafowora enrolled at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She multitasked research, product experimenting, and networking as the epidemic kept her studies online.
She declined to disclose the names of the high-profile clientele who have already signed on to use her product, but it quickly garnered a lot of popularity after its release. The fact that Gander closed its $4.2 million seed round in less than three months is evidence of its success. Fafowora claimed that early in the year, fundraising was actually not a high priority. However, her business began to gain traction, and soon she was inundated with offers from investors.
She remembered that term sheets existed before she even realized it.
Through other investors, Fafowora got to know Crossbeam managing director Ryan Morgan and Henri Pierre-Jacques, managing partner of Harlem Capital. The two, according to her, grasped her vision for the company and were aware of the demand for her goods.
In a press statement, Morgan relayed that as the e-commerce industry has developed over the past several years, firms have had to discover ways to engage and communicate with customers honestly. "Kimiloluwa has developed a solution to improve the connection between online brands and consumers since she not only has a special understanding of the requirements and appetites of the modern consumer, but also has expertise scaling e-commerce brands."
That was furthered by Pierre-Jacques. He expressed in the statement, "We are strong investors in e-commerce enabling technologies and see Gander as the progression for user-generated content for brands."
A number of venture capitalists and angel investors, including Boon Fund, have contributed further cash.
We're just getting started
For Fafowora, the event in Gander completes the circle. Her family is business-minded, thus she has always desired to launch her own company. It appealed to her to be able to shape her own destiny while also contributing to others, but she struggled for a long time to figure out how to make that ambition a reality.
She was working as a strategist to scale consumer brands when the idea suddenly clicked into place. Frequently, she left with the impression that their online efforts were lacking something. She thought that ought to be addressed by someone.
In order to help marketers contact consumers more easily, Fafowora aims to scale her business after graduating from Stanford this June. She also plans to lean heavily on leveraging creators to engage with customers and assist them in making purchasing decisions.
Collecting and embedding video material is just the start of her plan to usher in a new era of e-commerce, she added.