Online marketplace Panjo of Santa Monica has raised a $4.6 million in a Series A round from investors including the New York Times Co. and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.
The Panjo marketplace is designed to serve enthusiast communities, which tend to have difficulty in larger, more general-purpose online markets, such as eBay.
“In the same way that reddit is made up of sub-reddits, the same is true of Panjo. We are dedicated to sub-sections like RC cars, camping, (parts for) different car makes, wet shaving equipment, flashlights,” said Chief Executive Chad Billmyer.
The vast majority of what is sold on Panjo is used and about 75 percent of the inventory is hard-to-find automotive parts, he said. The company said $10 million in goods transact a month on the site with popular items including wet shaving razors, Tesla Model S modifications and Audi A5 parts. Panjo makes money from a transaction fee.
Panjo regulates its inventory through community volunteers, who are often subject matter experts, said Billmyer.
“It’s important for Panjo to not open the barn doors for vendors because we then start looking like eBay and lose some of the qualities that differentiate us,” he said. “Eighty percent of what is sold on eBay is new, so when you are a subject-matter expert or an enthusiast, eBay is not a great place for inspiration and discovery.”
The company will use its infusion of funding to reduce transaction costs by, for example, making it easier to print shipping labels and lessening the time it takes to get packaging, he said.
Panjo’s ability to service niche communities brought in investment from media firms New York Times and Bertelsmann of Germany, said Billmyer. The Times wants to learn how to better serve some if its niche audiences, such as readers of its books or science sections, but has no plans to partner on an e-commerce platform, he said. Bertelsmann may use Panjo’s platform to facilitate e-commerce for some of its niche media sites.
Founded in 2010, Panjo has 15 employees and has raised $6.7 million in total. Panjo’s Series A round was led by Spark Capital and other participants were Fabrice Grinda, Lerer Ventures, BDMI, Beenos Partners, Mucker Capital and Mesa Ventures.
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