The last couple of years have witnessed an increased reach of internet connectivity and an upsurge of digital payment platforms. This is led to the digitalisation of auction platforms globally. In addition, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a substantial shift of conventional auction companies to online platforms, enhancing the growth of the online auction market.
Reportedly, the global online auction market was valued at $4071M (approx €3.35B) in 2019 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 9.2% over the forecast period between 2020-2028.
In a recent development, Amsterdam-based Catawiki, an online auction platform for buying and selling special items and collectables, has raised €150M in a fresh round of funding led by Permira through its Growth Opportunities Fund. Existing investor Accel also participated in this round.
Use of the raised capital
The current round of funding will help Catawiki to grow its user base by investing in technology, marketing, and hiring more experts across Europe.
The investment will also provide liquidity for a number of early investors and employees.
Martin Gibson, a partner at Accel and Chairman of the Board at Catawiki, says “Catawiki’s business model is unique as it enables everyone to discover and buy special objects that help them fulfill their passions. And while the company is already a fast-growing business with healthy profit margins, it has only just begun scratching the surface of its addressable market. We’re excited to participate in this round.”
What does Catawiki do?
Currently, headquartered in Amsterdam, the company was originally from Assen, a small town in the quiet province of Drenthe. Catawiki was founded by Rene Schoenmakers (a Dutch comic collector), and Marco Jansen (a Dutch developer). It went online, 10th September 2008, as a wiki-based compendium of collector’s catalogues.
Catawiki claims to be the most-visited curated marketplace in Europe in categories such as collectables, art, design, jewellery, watches, classic cars, among others.
Every week, more than 240 in-house experts carefully select over 65,000 special objects to put up in an auction.
The company has about 650 employees working across its European offices serving customers globally. It has 10 million unique monthly visitors and earns over 80% of its revenue from returning buyers and sellers.
Here are 6 interesting milestones that occured during the 12-year journey of Catawiki.
1. Its staggering growth: 45,000%
In recent years, the company’s path to growth has been nothing more than staggering. By 2015, the Assen startup had achieved revenue growth of 45,080%. It received a percentage of 12.5% on every sale. In October 2016, Catawiki won the Deloitte Technology Fast50 award for the second time in a row. The company was ranked as one of the fastest-growing tech companies in The Netherlands.
2. Funding from renowned investors
Catawiki had previously raised a total of $107.6M (approx €88.7M) in funding over 5 rounds. Amsterdam-based early-stage VC Peak Capital and Willem Sijthoff, an Amsterdam-based media entrepreneur and investor, were among the early backers of the company from within the city. Renowned investors Accel, Project A Ventures, and Northzone have also poured money into Catawiki.
3. Founders left suprisingly
In 2016, Catawiki founders Rene Schoenmakers and Marco Jansen surprisingly stepped down from their daily management of the company. Its Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ilse Kamps took charge of the company in December that year. After working on Catawiki for 9 years, the founders wanted an experienced manager who could grow the company further.
4. New CEO from Flipkart
In 2018, Catawiki turned to Indian-born Ravi Vora as the new CEO. He previously served a year as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer before taking over. His goal is to get the company to a $1 billion gross merchandise value in the next 3 to 5 years. A job he had done before as Flipkart’s Head of Marketing: during his tenure, the Indian e-commerce marketplace grew from a 90 people startup to a $15 billion unicorn with 11,000 employees.
5. A huge loss turned into a profit
Prior to hiring Vora, the staggering growth had come to a grinding halt. The company recorded a total loss of around €40M in the last few years before 2018. However, in 2018, a restructuring took place. And, in 2019, Vora told BI that the net loss was down to €4.5M on a turnover of €56M. The red has now turned black: with a €2.2M profit in the first four months of the year the company reportedly already reached its annual goals.
6. State-of-the-art headquarters
By now, Catawiki has outgrown the small town of Assen. The company now shares its (state-of-the-art) headquarters at CitySide-Rivierstaete with Amsterdam-based unicorn Messagebird.