Access to global supply chains can be challenging for small businesses in Latin America, but companies like Meru, which in March raised funds to source and import goods between Mexico and China, and, more recently, more recently PandaTo make this easy, we are leveraging offshore relationships and technology.
For Pandas, the company does something similar to Meru, but starts in Colombia and connects small businesses directly with Asian manufacturers, reducing the high fees and logistical issues often charged by six importers and intermediaries. All businesses are now facing a situation where inventory is taking significantly longer to arrive than it was before the pandemic.
Co-founders Rio Xin and Marcos Esterli launched Pandas just three months ago to provide Asian inventory to small businesses in Latin America. Their collective background includes Esterli’s careers with McKinsey and Treinta, and Xin’s over 7 years with Xin’s McKinsey.
“The main problem we’ve seen is that people who don’t understand Chinese or how Chinese manufacturers work adds to the logistical problem,” Xin added. “We can have a team in China to overcome all these logistical challenges while bridging the breaches.”
Here’s how it works: Businesses order products through the Pandas marketplace and advertise a lower price that businesses can purchase with just a few clicks. Pandas offers same-day delivery and customer support.
Esterli explained that while people in Latin America are using smartphones for personal finances and other tasks, the business side hasn’t shifted quickly.
“Many of our customers said they want Alibaba to use it, but it is very complicated to figure out. “We wanted to build an easy solution that was very intuitive because business owners don’t have time to spend.”
Initially offering basic electronics such as headphones, accessories and cables, with a new $5.8 million funding round, Pandas will move into categories such as textiles and home accessories. The company touts the pre-seed investment as “the largest pre-seed finance in Spanish-speaking Latin America to date.”
Third Kind Venture Capital led the round and brought in a number of individual investors including Acequia Capital, Picus Capital, Tekton Ventures, Partech, Liquid2 Ventures, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Gaingels and Tul’s Juan Carlos Narvaez, Chiper’s Jose Jair Bonilla, and Treinta’s. . Man Hei and Lluís Cañadell, Pablo Viguera from Belvo, Alfonso de los Rios from Nowports, Sujay Tyle from Merama, Gonzalo Manrique from Ironhack.
So far, the company is growing 100% monthly on its young journey, and has accumulated a network of 300 out of 5,000 suppliers in China, Xin said.
In addition to moving into new inventory categories, the new capital will allow Pandas to expand its operations, technology and product development and hire new employees.
Xin expects to reach most of the major markets across Latin America over the next three years. Meanwhile, new capabilities that will be delivered through the pipeline over the next 12 months include a suite of fintech and analytics tools such as finance.