This marks Lightspeed's first investment in Hong Kong
Markato, an online wholesale marketplace for independent retailers and buyers in Asia, has announced its official debut in Hong Kong. The start-up, founded in 2023 by Brian Lo and Martin Li, helps independent retailers and buyers in Asia to discover and source unique bands from Europe, America, and Australia for their products.
The start-up aims at business to business (B2B) wholesale industry by providing a one-stop-shop for retailers and buyers to discover and collaborate with independent brands from around the world. Along with significantly reduced procurement and logistics costs, Markato digitizes the entire product discovery process into one end-to-end wholesale buying experience.
Markato has raised $5 million in Q2 in seed-round funding led by Lightspeed, with participation from other industry leaders. This marks the global VC’s first investment in Hong Kong.
The start-up has also partnered with over 200 brands, mainly from Europe, the US, and Australia, with 80 per cent of the brands not previously available in Asia. Of this, 90 per cent of products are exclusively sold through the Markato marketplace, providing retailers in Asia with access to over 4,000 unique products. The team is on track to 10x the amount of brand supply by the end of 2023, according to the company.
The platform enables independent brands to streamline and manage their distribution to Asia through one centralised platform. It integrates with cross-border payment and end-to-end logistics functionality, enabling retailers and buyers to save at least 20 per cent of transaction and logistics costs. It also offers a 60-day Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) option for retailers, while extending a 90-day free returns feature that eliminates retailers’ risk from unsold inventory.
Lo, co-founder of Markato said that the platform creates opportunities for Asia’s retailers to tap a global marketplace and access a curated mix of unique global brands by providing cost and time-efficient operational support while eliminating capital constraints and inventory risk for the buyers. "By digitising a traditionally offline and inefficient process, we enable retailers and buyers to rethink their product mix and achieve diversification that ultimately helps them attract new customers and generate higher sales,” he added.
Li, the start-up's co-founder added, “Around the world, there are amazing boutiques and brands that simply do not have the network or manpower to be present in Asia. At the same time, buyers in Asia always want the most interesting independent brands from around the world. Markato is transforming the way the wholesale sector operates by connecting brands with new retail opportunities in Asia.”