Australian Heath Wells has always been interested in web companies, starting his first at 15-years-old.
Wells, now 37, eventually came to the U.S., where he started West Hollywood-based NuORDER with his wife Olivia Skuza. The company helps with business to business (B2B) ordering. Companies that want to order inventory can do so online instead of faxing in an order.
The business to business e-commerce industry is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2021, according to Forrester Research.
Crain's Los Angeles spoke with Wells about his childhood and starting NuORDER.
I started out in Australia. Rather than work at a bar or a restaurant, I learned how to build websites. That’s where I built a passion for technology.
I went through university and was building websites. Then I started working at a publishing company and that transformed into taking a major role there. Although I was working for a publishing company, I saw how I could build an integrated offering: a digital agency combined with offline publishing.
During that time, my wife joined the company and helped run the agency. It was a media company with an agency as well.
We exited in 2008 right before the crash and moved to the states and started a digital agency called State of Tomorrow.
We were preaching digital first to a lot of agencies, working with fashion brands, fashion retailers and fashion trade shows. Everyone was starting to shop online and you saw a shift from brick-and-mortar retail to online. Our agency was benefiting from that because we provided a solution.
It was a real ‘aha’ moment. We were working with fashion trade shows, fashion retailers, fashion brands. The process of wholesale was being done with pen, paper and a fax machine. Still to this day it’s a big portion of the industry. It’s how industries conduct wholesale.
The experience we were enjoying as consumers on the e-commerce side was not happening on the wholesale side. We wondered why no one applied the e-commerce side to B2B. The brands want it, the retailers want it, so we thought why not create a platform for it.
When you buy on Amazon, its natural. But it’s not natural on the wholesale side.
We invested the money we made from our previous company and built the prototype.
Funding the company
We did a seed round of investment in 2012 and raised $3.5 million. We did this with Upfront Ventures. They’ve been great supporters of ours. They’re local. Anyone starting a software company should try and make their first investor local. You need someone to validate, critique and help you with your initial steps.
We took another investor, Greycroft, which is a big name in the B2B community and did a $3.5 million round with them.
From there we did a Series A and that was $7.5 million.
Now we are scaling up the business. We took the journey from one small niche to selling to hundreds of customers, managing tens of millions of dollars. Today, we’ve raised close to $23 million. Our most recent run was with a private equity fund in New York.
We have 850 paying customers, or brands, on the other side we have 350,000 retailers globally.
This is the exciting part. We’re in an interesting period. We’ve had success, but we are just about to see a revolution.
We’re really excited about the next two to three years. B2B e-commerce is a matter of when not if. We’re really focusing on what we can do better, how can we take every day and improve on ourselves.