Original post from FORBES
There’s a mad dash to cash in on Amazon’s blockbuster success by snapping up third-party sellers, and Raunak Nirmal is leading one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing Amazon aggregators. His company, Acquco, has raised $160 million to acquire businesses that will generate some $250 million in revenue this year. “I’ve been living and breathing Amazon,” says Nirmal, 29, who worked as an analyst at Amazon right out of college and started several Amazon companies himself. Now he’s scaling others’ products (household items like shower curtains, bug zappers and milk frothers), a process that includes expanding beyond Amazon to sites such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
“We think the potential isn’t just getting a bunch of brands on Amazon. We think the true potential is turning these brands into true omnichannel brands,” says Nirmal, a Sikh who emigrated from India when he was seven years old. He has given away Teslas for leads on deals in the white-hot space and is in the process of raising another $400 million. He’s targeting an IPO in the next year or two.
The 2022 30 Under 30 Retail & E-commerce list features Nirmal and other promising up-and-comers who are chasing opportunity and success in the fast-changing retail industry, which has been rocked by the pandemic, supply chain woes and inflation. The members of this year’s list were handpicked from thousands of nominations, with the help of our judges: Reham Fagiri, cofounder of AptDeco; Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures; Chris Riccobono, founder of UNTUCKit; and Amber Venz Box, cofounder of LTK and 2017 30 Under 30 alum.
“We are providing the shovel and pickaxe in the proverbial e-commerce gold rush.”
—Anthony Watson, 29, cofounder of Shipbob
Some of them are building their own brands. Take Fenco Lin, a 29-year-old former buyer for Bloomingdale’s who is trying to build the next Shein. In October 2020, she cofounded Cider, an e-commerce brand that caters to Gen Z. To minimize waste, it works with a marketplace of Chinese factories to spin out small batches. Its social media presence has exploded overnight: Two million followers on Instagram and 650,000 on TikTok. Investors have taken notice, with Andreesen Horowitz, partners of DST Global and others putting $180 million into the company at a $1 billion valuation.
Bianca Padilla spotted an opportunity to court an entirely different demographic: Caregivers. When the 28-year-old and her mother were tasked with caring for her grandmother after hip surgery, she realized they had no idea what to do. They weren’t alone: 90% of the support received by aging, ill or disabled Americans is provided by 53 million inexperienced family caregivers. In 2017, she and her husband started Carewell, selling walkers, adult diapers, grab bars and other items online to caregivers. Fifty customer service reps — who receive three weeks of training — answer calls around the clock, with 40% of people they speak to placing an order. To fund growth, Carewell has raised $30 million.
Others are helping retailers compete with Amazon, looking to meet a giant need that has given rise to companies like Shopify. Anthony Watson, 29, cofounded Shipbob, which helps over 5,000 small and medium-sized businesses offer fast delivery to their customers by packing and shipping orders from over two dozen warehouses across the country. The company has raised $305 million from Softbank, Bain Capital Ventures and others at a valuation of over $1 billion.
Dan Fischetti, 29, left a job as a high-frequency trading consultant for the Securities & Exchange Commission to help start an Amazon Go competitor. The company, Standard AI, uses cameras in the ceiling and computer vision to track the items a shopper picks up and charge them accordingly, eliminating the need to wait in line. It is currently testing its technology in Circle K stores, and has raised $238 million from Softbank and others at a $1 billion valuation.
Others are building companies rooted in sustainability. Take college friends Dane Baker and Peter Twomey, whose startup EcoCart works with over 2,000 brands to tell shoppers the carbon footprint of their online purchase at checkout — then gives them the chance to offset it. Or Chloe Songer, who cofounded Thousand Fell, which sells a completely recyclable sneaker manufactured out of water bottles, yoga mats and food waste.
This year’s list includes 11 immigrants from countries like Pakistan, Lebanon and Mexico, as well as 16 first-generation citizens. The youngest listmaker is 21-year-old Liv Portio, founder of DBL Jewelry, who started making necklaces on her bedroom floor at 16 and now has two million followers on TikTok.