Tiago Dalvi, CEO at Olist.
Technology

Being unique in SoftBank's eyes was decisive for Olist to opt for the Japanese fund's investment

In an interview with LABS, CEO Tiago Dalvi says that the main goal of the Brazilian startup is to win over 100,000 small retailers in the next two years and diversify the services offered to them, from ERP to working capital

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Close 2021 with 100,000 retailers, and offering a host of new services to them, from ERP to working capital. These are the plans of Olist, a Brazilian startup that offers complete e-commerce solutions for small retailers, after the announcement of a BRL 190 million investment led by SoftBank–the ninth of the Japanese fund in Latin America in 2019. Redpoint eventures and Valor Capital, the two funds which had already invested in the startup previously, kept their positions in this C Series round.

In an interview with LABS, Tiago Dalvi, CEO at Olist, said that more than 30 funds were sought by the startup for this investment round, mainly from outside Brazil. According to him, it wasn’t just SoftBank’s smart money that attracted Olist.

The other funds tried to find (companies) comparable to Olist (during the evaluation). But SoftBank recognized since the beginning that we were unique.

Tiago Dalvi, CEO at Olist.

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Dalvi says that before closing the deal with SoftBank he talked to several other startups invested by the Japanese fund and realise that SoftBank really has what it takes to take Olist to the next leve–just as previous rounds with Redpoint eventures and Valor Capital did. “We had a summit with them. It’s really an amazing ecosystem.” This was Olist’s largest investment round–the previous two rounds raised BRL 24 million.

Small retailers as the main target

Olist’s focus remains on the offline shopkeeper. “It’s someone who has a home decor, games or fashion store, for example, who knows how to buy well to sell well, but doesn’t know how to start selling online or even using a marketplace,” describes Dalvi.

Today, the Olist’s small retailers has only the job of issuing invoices and printing shipping labels for their products. Olist takes care of the rest: strategic digital marketing campaigns in the main marketplaces where it operates, delivery (through partnerships with logistics companies), and even after-sales. For this, the startup gets an average of 20% of sales, in addition to charging a setup fee (BRL 450) and a monthly fee that starts at $ 50. Values ​​that fit the pocket of the small Brazilian shopkeepers.

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In addition to expanding its merchant base, Olist wants to greatly extend its ecosystem services, which should also increase the startup revenue. The idea is to offer a range of services, such as integration with ERP systems and offering working capital. “We want our platform to be the most complete, self service platform, with the shopkeeper coming in and starting to use, without needing a giant trading team for that. But we will have a gigantic trading team anyway, since our focus is expansion, “jokes Dalvi.

Although the easiest way to do this is through partnerships, including with other SoftBank’s startups, Olist does not rule out verticalization of some operations.

We always consider whether it is worth doing something indoors or through partnerships. We don’t rule out verticalizing any of these steps.

Tiago Dalvi, CEO at Olist.

To cope with these bold goals, Olist intends to greatly increase its staff. “We should close 2019 with 380 employees, but we want to accelerate and close 2020 with more than 800,” says Dalvi. The startup is looking for professionals not only for its headquarters in Curitiba (Southern Brazil), and for its office in Sao Paulo, but for business teams in all regions of the country. “Remembering that in the case of the technology team, many of the positions can be remote. Curitiba is attracting more outsiders, of course, but it is important to say that there are opportunities for people everywhere.”

For now, Olist has its feet in Brazil and the goal of becoming the absolute leader in e-commerce services in the country. But it already studies the markets of other Latin American countries, besides Portugal and Spain, in Europe. “We will start dealing with internationalization in 12 months,” says Dalvi.