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Insight Partners backs ‘hype commerce’ startup EQL in $25 million raise


Melbourne “hype commerce” startup EQL has raised A$25 million to help retailers manage the launch of high demand products.

The round was led by New York software investor Insight Partners and local VC AirTree Ventures. Other backers include market leaders in digital commerce, platforms and fan engagement including Guillaume Pousaz’s Zinal Growth, Harry Stebbings’ investment fund, 20VC; Sam Kroonenburg, co-founder of A Cloud Guru; and the family office of Michael Rubin, CEO of Fanatics and co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The fresh cash will be used to build the global sales and customer teams, and improve the company’s infrastructure and AI smarts.

EQL’s platform allows retailers to address problems that occur in high demand product launches such as sites crashing, payment chaos, or backlash sparked by scammers and bots clearing out stock.

The startup launched last year and is now in nine markets including Australia, the UK, some European countries and South East Asia. Customers include Footlocker, Sullivans Cove whisky and Crocs. It has been involved in more than 1000 product launches.

Co-ounders Andrew Lipp (CEO), James Boysons (CRO) and Patrick Donelan (CTO) started the business on a chance opportunity and their own frustrations while shopping for sneakers

They sent a cold LinkedIn email to Nike Europe suggesting there was a better way for their retail partners to deliver fairer launches. When Nike replied wanting more information, they built the software’s first version in time for the launch of a Jordan collaboration with a French designer.

Andrew Lipp said EQL was inspired by their shared passion for fairness when it comes to accessing hyped products.

“As avid sneaker fans, we were sick of missing out while others scored in droves,” he said.

“When we decided to build the platform, our focus was on creating more fairness. This is still our truth today. As we’ve grown, we’ve always focused on how we can give fans better access to the products they love.”

“By using EQL, we’re giving brands more control of their limited release product drops and supporting more meaningful interactions with fans. This is something the market hasn’t experienced before. With us, they can own their hype and harness it. This is creating a new wave of commerce.”

Beyond sneakers, EQL now also supports luxury brands across apparel, alcohol and accessories, and plans to soon expand into gaming, ticketing and the digital collectives space.

Insight Partners Managing Director AJ Malhotra said the hype and enthusiasm of avid and loyal fans wanting new products can create a number of technical challenges for e-commerce retailers.

“EQL’s innovative platform is helping mitigate and prevent these challenges by creating seamless product launch experiences that give retailers more control and fans better access to the products they want,” he said.

“Insight is thrilled to partner with Andrew, Patrick, James and the entire EQL team on this exciting next chapter in the company’s growth journey.”

 





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