Glasgow online product discovery platform used by John Lewis secures six-figure funding

An online platform that has been called Tinder for retail buyers and product suppliers has secured funds of £330,000 following a period of “rapid growth”.
Simon Coyle, chief executive of Product Guru, the fast-growing online product discovery platform. Picture: Studio Cee PhotographySimon Coyle, chief executive of Product Guru, the fast-growing online product discovery platform. Picture: Studio Cee Photography
Simon Coyle, chief executive of Product Guru, the fast-growing online product discovery platform. Picture: Studio Cee Photography

Retail tech outfit Product Guru, which is based in Glasgow, has netted an investment of £230,000 from Scotmid Coop and Techstart VC, with a further £100,000 in funding via Scottish Enterprise.

Despite the ongoing challenges faced during the pandemic, the firm has more than doubled its workforce and seen sign-ups leap 310 per cent in the first eight months of 2020, with product submissions on the platform surging by 1,000 per cent in the same period.

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Billed as an online product discovery platform, Product Guru helps fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), home, gift and travel suppliers by opening up opportunities to connect with major retailers. Since launching in 2018, a raft of high street retailers, including John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and TK Maxx, have signed up to use its services.

Chief executive Simon Coyle said: “2020 sent shockwaves through the high street, and nothing will ever be the same. Having worked in retail for 20 years, this has made me even more ambitious with our plans for growth over the next 18 months.

“Our vision is to shake up how retail buying works. The system was broken even before Covid, with buyers missing opportunities to find the products their consumers wanted and suppliers desperately trying to find the right channel to reach buyers.

“More than ever, retail needs to adapt and find new ways of working. As activities move online and remote working becomes the norm, Product Guru is uniquely placed to continue revolutionising how products end up on shelves.”

He added: “This funding has come at a critical time as we look to build upon the success of our rapid growth. Continually developing our services to meet retailers’ needs will allow us to connect and match even more suppliers and buyers, helping us to build upon the disruptive changes we’ve made to the sector.”

Calum Forsyth, investor at Techstart Ventures, said: “Small and challenger brands punch well above their weight in markets that have traditionally been led by large corporations.

“Through consistent reinvention, innovation and a focus on the customer, we have seen unprecedented levels of growth among these brands.

“In attempting to capture a portion of this, retailers face challenges in both product discovery and workflow management. Product Guru is a very elegant solution that sits at the heart of this marketplace challenge.”

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The investment will also allow the tech firm to recruit two skilled senior developers to support the launch of the platform’s premium subscription service in 2021. The new service promises greater opportunities for suppliers to catch the attention of retail buyers.

Reflecting on a recent event, Coyle added: “Virtual product pitching at The Pantry Live was a clear sign of the changing times we live in.

“To see a micro business selling direct from their own kitchen into the kitchen of a John Lewis buyer was extraordinary. It felt like we were seeing product discovery as it should be. It personalised the process, with real relationships being formed.”

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