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Conversation
Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries, the show that explores the future of tech with innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Melodie van der Baan, CEO and Founder of Max Retail, an excess inventory solution that has raised $10 million in funding.

  • Melodie’s journey from being an independent retailer and distributor to founding Max Retail out of necessity, after experiencing the challenges of excess inventory firsthand.
  • The early days of Max Retail, starting with a minimum viable proposition of facilitating merchandise exchanges between retailers over the phone, and the process of building the first B2B marketplace for authorized retailers to sell, buy, and swap merchandise.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Max Retail’s launch in 2020, forcing the company to pivot and find new ways to solve the excess inventory problem as retailers struggled with cash flow and were reluctant to buy or swap merchandise.
  • The accidental discovery of the potential for liquidating excess inventory to end consumers through partnerships with third-party marketplaces like Poshmark, which led to a significant increase in sales and revenue for independent retailers.
  • The impressive growth metrics, with average payouts to independent retailers increasing from $151 to $1,200 per month, and the highest-performing customers making over $20,000 per month from selling their excess inventory through Max Retail.
  • The massive market opportunity, with over 2 million independent retailers in North America and Europe as the target market for the foreseeable future.
  • The positioning of Max Retail as an e-commerce infrastructure solution, providing a means for independent retailers and brands to sell their excess inventory across a network of demand that would otherwise be too challenging for them to access on their own.
  • The lessons learned from fundraising, including the importance of building relationships with investors and carefully choosing partners who align with the company’s vision and values.
  • The advice for founders to prioritize learning about product management early on, and to focus on solving problems that truly haunt them day and night.
  • The long-term vision of Max Retail being present on five of the seven continents, enabling anyone with an audience to tap into their supply and become a distributor of the products on the platform.

Actionable
Takeaways

Solve a Problem You've Experienced Firsthand:

Melodie's deep understanding of the challenges faced by independent retailers and her passion for solving the excess inventory problem stem from her own experiences in the industry. Founders should look for opportunities to address pain points they've encountered directly, as this can provide valuable insights and drive their commitment to finding a solution.

Embrace Pivots and Adapt to Changing Circumstances:

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Max Retail's initial B2B marketplace model, the company quickly adapted by exploring new channels for liquidating excess inventory to end consumers. Founders must be willing to pivot their strategies in response to external factors and market feedback, while staying true to their core mission.

Leverage Partnerships to Expand Reach and Drive Growth:

Max Retail's partnerships with third-party marketplaces like Poshmark were instrumental in unlocking new revenue streams for independent retailers and driving the company's growth. Founders should actively seek out strategic partnerships that can help them tap into new audiences, distribution channels, or complementary services.

Focus on Delivering Measurable Value to Customers:

Melodie emphasizes the importance of providing tangible benefits to independent retailers, with Max Retail's platform enabling them to generate significant additional revenue from their excess inventory. Founders should prioritize metrics that demonstrate the real-world impact of their solutions on their customers' businesses.

Build Authentic Relationships with Investors:

Rather than viewing fundraising solely as a means to secure capital, Melodie approaches it as an opportunity to forge meaningful, long-term relationships with investors who share her vision and can provide ongoing support and guidance. Founders should carefully select investors who align with their values and can serve as true partners in their entrepreneurial journey.

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