By Misha Gordon-Rowe, Principal at Susa Ventures
Susa Ventures is excited to announce our investment in Powered by People (PBP), a global B2B wholesale marketplace that connects independent brands and makers in 47 countries to retailers in North America.
We led the $5mm seed round, investing alongside our friends at Golden Ventures, Flexport Fund, and J Ventures. And we’re excited to welcome Ella, Hedvig, and the PBP team to the Susa Family.
Makers on PBP’s marketplace sell small-batch, craft apparel, home goods, jewelry, textiles, and personal care items. An archetypical maker is a rural, female-led brand employing 100s of women producing in small batches across South Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
The responsible, small-batch manufacturing sector is massive and growing fast — estimated to hit $1Tr by 2024. Modern consumers are demanding more product provenance, supply chain transparency, sustainability, storytelling, and artisanal products. For example, 70 percent of consumers say they are more interested in a product’s origins than the company that produced it. And for many major retailers, their artisanal businesses are growing four times faster than their overall business.
We think PBP isn’t just going to capitalize on this trillion dollar market — they’re going to dramatically grow it by giving independent brands and makers in emerging economies globally the tools to succeed.
PBP solves makers’ two biggest challenges: access to export markets and access to financing for production and inventory.
There are millions of highly talented, small-batch makers around the world who have skills and beautiful designs, but can’t showcase their products globally. PBP gives them the tools to grow, including access to new retailers; purchase order and invoice financing; export logistics services; and digital tools for inventory management and production management.
Meanwhile, retailers are looking for a more curated selection of diverse and thoughtful items from all over the world. Buyers need a simple buying process, discoverability, curation, assortment, and the ability to design custom products. Even the biggest retailers need help with international logistics and dropshipping; and they benefit greatly from being able to extend net terms and advance working capital to makers.
PBP launched last summer around these opportunities, and they’re already a trusted source for retailers like West Elm, Pottery Barn, The Citizenry and 100s of independent shops. On the other side of the marketplace, 200+ brands across 47 countries — representing tens of thousands of individual makers — are selling.
International makers who work with Powered by People
PBP was founded by Ella Peinovich-Griffith and Hedvig Alexander. Previously Ella built SOKO, a handmade jewelry brand in Kenya that exported to the US; at SOKO, Ella employed thousands of makers in East Africa and built many of the tools for her own company which inform the digital business tools that PBP now offers to all makers on its platform. Ella and Hedvig intimately know how to serve these artisans.
They’re hiring fast across engineering, design, product, finance, and operations. If you’re interested, check out the open roles here or reach out to us! The company is remote-first, with offices in the US, Canada, Mexico, India, Turkey, and Kenya.
Check out open roles — remote-first, with offices in the US, Kenya, Mexico and Europe: https://www.poweredbypeople.com/pages/careers
Our Investment in Powered by People was originally published in Susa Ventures on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.