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Monday, 16 September 2013 06:00

Zipments Corp. secures $2.25M in seed funding

Written by  Nick Manes and Joe Boomgaard
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Zipments Corp. secures $2.25M in seed funding COURTESY PHOTO

Zipments Corp., a crowdsourcing platform that connects businesses and couriers for inexpensive, same-day delivery, has raised $2.25 million in seed funding, MiBiz has learned.

The company, which has roots in Holland and launched in Grand Rapids three years ago, confirmed that it raised the funds over the past few months from investment firms in New York, Illinois and Michigan, as well as an angel investor in Canada.

The latest piece was a $1.25 million round led by FirstMark Capital of New York City and Huron River Ventures of Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

Windquest Group — a Grand Rapids-based investment firm headed by Amway scion Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy — also invested, as did New York City Economic Development Corporation, Chicago Ventures and angel investor Robert Safrata, the CEO of Novex Couriers of Canada.

Zipments CEO and co-founder Garrick Pohl said the company plans to use the funds to continue building out its technology development team, which is based in Grand Rapids. The company also plans to add to its sales and marketing team in New York City, where Zipments has been based for about a year.

“Every retailer right now wants to act like Amazon with fast, local delivery,” Pohl told MiBiz. “We want to take a traditional industry and revitalize it with technology.”

Zipments’ approach to same-day logistics helped attract the investors, Pohl said. “Our big push (to raise money) was well-timed, and the capital markets favored us,” he said.

“We are big fans of what they are doing,” said Greg McNeilly, chief operating officer at Windquest Group.

Zipments was founded in Holland in 2010 by Pohl. It earned considerable publicity when it launched a pilot run of the service in West Michigan before moving into major urban markets including Chicago and New York City. The service is being widely used around the New York City area, Pohl said.

The company’s model allows for businesses to post their delivery needs on the Zipments website or mobile app and then a group of registered couriers are able to bid on the job. The delivery is typically completed within hours of the posting at a cost that is less than typical two- or three-day shipping.

“We learned a lot when we launched in Grand Rapids,” Pohl said. “But what we did in Grand Rapids was very different from what we’re doing in New York.”

The mix of settings helped the company hone its technology and service delivery model in a range of markets, he said. Additionally, the New York exposure helped the startup secure this latest round of funding.

The company’s work is also an example of how West Michigan innovates, Pohl said. Rather than chase emerging industries, entrepreneurs in the region often focus on finding ways to improve existing systems.

“We’re a good example of a small startup in Grand Rapids that was able to get the support of local investors and then draw in investors from Chicago and New York,” Pohl said. “It’s great when we can get the investment community to start to collaborate on investments so it does not have to be only investors from Michigan investing in Michigan companies.”

He didn’t find as favorable of a capital market in the late 2000s when he and his partners founded Crayon Interface, which developed a technology that allowed smartphone users to remotely control building or vehicle systems, for example.

“With Crayon, we maybe hit the market a little early,” Pohl said. “Now, it’s nice to hit the market at the right time. It’s exciting to see where this next round will take us. It’s a competitive space.”

Read 5885 times Last modified on Monday, 16 September 2013 06:26

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