Fintech & e-commerce Retail and Direct To Consumer

Livestream Shopping Platform Whatnot Inks $20M Series A, Targets Lovers Of Collectibles

Whatnot raised $20 million in Series A funding to expand its livestream shopping platform and marketplace.

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Grant LaFontaine and Logan Head co-founded the Los Angeles-based startup in 2019 with the aim of creating a place where avid collectors could come together over shared interests.

“Logan and I have been buyers and sellers of collectibles for years, mainly selling Pokemon cards, but we found it painful to use some of the existing big players, like eBay,” LaFontaine told Crunchbase News. “We saw that they had not been innovated on, and there was an opportunity to build an amazing social commerce experience focused on collectibles and sports cards.”

The platform features live shows by sellers and a community where sellers and buyers can hang out, he added. In addition to the live sales, there are “card breaks” for popular collectibles, including Pokemon cards, sports cards and Funko Pops. Card breaks happen after the sale, when the seller opens up the package of cards to show the buyer what’s inside.

Whatnot app screenshot

Andreessen Horowitz led the round and was joined by existing investors Y Combinator, Wonder Ventures, Operator Partners and Scribble Ventures, as well as Steve Aoki and Chris Zarou. In total, Whatnot raised $24.7 million, LaFontaine said. This includes a $4 million seed round raised in December, according to Crunchbase data.

“Many companies are trying to duplicate the success of livestream shopping in the U.S., but while compelling platforms have been built, many have fallen short when it comes to fostering the community that keeps users engaged and coming back again and again,” said Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen, in a written statement. “Grant and Logan understand that it’s about more than functionality, and have tapped into the zeitgeist by engaging buyers and sellers around the products they love most.”

In fact, livestream shopping is one of the hotter trends to come out of the global pandemic, most notably in China. Although QVC and HSN pioneered the television side, this new industry approach has become a $136 billion market in China.

Back in July, livestreaming shopping app Popshop Live, also based in LA, raised $3 million in a seed round led by Floodgate and Abstract Ventures, to develop a platform that combines social media, e-commerce and entertainment aspects to help retailers build an online community and grow their sales. It now features dozens of sellers touting everything from comic books to wearable art to children’s books.

Meanwhile, Whatnot intends to invest the new funds into building out its team in marketing and product development to be able to offer new features and attract new buyers and sellers onto the app, LaFontaine said. In addition, the company will expand to 10 categories of collectibles with an aim to scale to hundreds.

“COVID changed the game and was the accelerant of technology adoption, which has created this opening for us,” he added. “There is excitement for a live shopping product, and we are among a handful of smaller players, but by focusing on communities, it will be a huge driver of why people will want to join live.”

Feature photo of founders Logan Head and Grant LaFontaine, as well as inset screenshot courtesy of Whatnot.
Blogroll illustration: iStock

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