E-commerce platform Gander today announced the closing of a $4.2 million funding round co-led by Harlem Capital and Crossbeam Venture Partners.
The seed adds Gander founder Kimiloluwa Fafowora, 26, to the growing list of black women who have raised $1 million or more in venture funding — a feat no more than 250 have achieved. Fafowora told TechCrunch that the idea for Gander came from her own desires as an online shopper looking for an easier way to conceptualize the items she was looking to buy.
“A lot of things that are really helpful in bringing products to life don’t really exist online,” Fafowora said.
To solve this problem, in late 2021 it launched Gander, which collects and embeds user-generated video content into retail sites so shoppers can see what a product looks like in real life. Gander also has a Creators Marketplace, which gives brands direct access to video content. Fafowora hopes to increase the hiring of its sales and engineering teams with the new capital and focus on continuing to grow the business.
“We designed our product to get big data that will help e-commerce brands humanize their stores to make them as accessible as possible,” Fafowora continued. “It helps the customer to feel as happy as possible for shopping.”
A hit with investors
Fafowora enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business with a keen understanding of wanting to humanize online shopping. While the pandemic kept her studies virtual, she carried out several tasks of research, product experimentation and networking.
Her product has grown in popularity after its launch and has already secured high-profile customers, although she declined to share names. Gander’s success is evidenced by the fact that it took less than three months to close its $4.2 million seed. In fact, Fafowora said fundraising was not a priority at the start of the year. But news of her business started to spread and soon investors were flooding her with offers.
“Before we knew it,” she recalls, “we had condition sheets.”
“A lot of the stuff that’s really helpful in bringing products to life doesn’t really exist online.” Kimiloluwa Fafowora, founder of Gander
Fafowora met Henri Pierre-Jacques, managing partner of Harlem Capital, and Ryan Morgan, managing director of Crossbeam, through other investors. She said the two recognized the need for her product and understood the vision for where she wanted to take the company.
“As the e-commerce landscape has grown over the past few years, brands have had to find ways to connect and communicate with customers authentically,” Morgan said in a press release. “Not only does Kimiloluwa have a unique understanding of the needs and appetites of the modern consumer, but she also has experience scaling e-commerce brands, which led her to develop a solution to improve communication between online brands and consumers.”
Pierre-Jacques added. “We are big investors in e-commerce enabler tools and view Gander as the evolution of user-generated content for brands,” he said in the release.
Additional funding came from Boon Fund and a collection of Boy Scouts and Angels.
It’s just the beginning
Gander is a complete moment for Fafowora. She has always wanted to start a business and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. The idea of creating her own future while helping others appealed to her, but for a very long time she could not decide how to realize this dream.
The light bulb went on as she worked as a strategist to help scale consumer brands. Often she would come away feeling that something was missing from their online strategies. She figured someone should do something about it.
After graduating from Stanford on Sunday, Fafowora plans to focus on scaling her business in hopes of helping brands reach shoppers more easily while also looking at using creators to interact with consumers to help them make purchasing decisions.
“It’s all part of her dream to help usher in a new era of e-commerce,” she said, adding that “collecting and integrating video content is just the beginning.”