Detail in the retail: Pointy raises $12m in Series B round

12 Jul 2018

From left: Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby. Image: Pointy

Dublin tech firm Pointy is leading bricks-and-mortar businesses into the e-commerce revolution of the 21st century.

Pointy has raised $12m in a Series B round led by Polaris Partners and involving Vulcan Capital.

The latest round brings the start-up’s total funding to $19m, including $6m raised in a Series A round in September last year.

‘The ingenuity of the Pointy solution is matched only by the sheer size and scale of the market opportunity’

Pointy recently announced plans to create 25 jobs at its new Dublin headquarters, effectively doubling the company in size to 50 people.

The company provides local bricks-and-mortar stores with a way to make all of their inventory visible online and compete against e-commerce giants such as Amazon.

Its box device connects to a store’s barcode scanner and automatically lists the products online and optimises them for search engines so that when local customers search for products, they find results from local stores.

This is crucial because 90pc of spending still occurs in bricks-and-mortar shops.

The little blue box staving off the retail apocalypse

The Pointy Box. Image: Pointy

The Pointy box. Image: Pointy

“We’re experiencing rapid uptake by US retailers and this investment will help us scale up further,” said Pointy CEO and co-founder Mark Cummins.

“We started Pointy to help local stores be more visible online. It seemed crazy to us that people had to wait two days for Amazon to deliver a product that could be 100 yards away in a local store. Our message to retailers was: ‘Don’t lose your local customers to companies like Amazon just because shoppers don’t know what you have in stock.’”

The company’s technology was created by Cummins and Charles Bibby. Cummins previously established visual search engine company PlinkArt, which was acquired by Google in 2010. Bibby also has an impressive track record, having designed some of the security systems for the London 2012 Olympics.

“For all the hype around e-commerce and the media narrative of ‘retail apocalypse’, people still make the vast majority of their purchases in local stores,” added Cummins. “But local retailers have lost out in not having their products visible online – we solve that problem for them.”

Investors in the company include Polaris Partners and Frontline Ventures as well as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen, Bebo co-founder Michael Birch, TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and even Irish rugby star Jamie Heaslip.

The Series B round comes a few short weeks after it announced major partnerships with point-of-sale (POS) giants Square, Clover and Lightspeed, making the Pointy platform available to stores using these systems with a single click. Users of these POS systems can install the free Pointy app and get all of their products displayed online, geotagged and optimised for search engines, ready to be found by local consumers searching for products.

“I had heard much of Mark and Charles before meeting in person and wanted to invest pretty much immediately upon meeting them,” said Polaris Partners’ Noel Ruane.

“The ingenuity of the Pointy solution is matched only by the sheer size and scale of the market opportunity. The partnerships Pointy has developed with companies like Google and Square is further testament to Pointy’s capabilities.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years