Coming from a small country bouncing back from one of the deepest and most draining recessions in history, where data and analytics talent is nonetheless extremely b, Convert Group, a Greek-origin start-up, boasting a rich portfolio spanning in 8 countries, raised €1.2Μ in seed investment from Uni.Fund, a fund backed by the EquiFund investment platform, an initiative created by cooperation between the European Investment Fund and the Hellenic Republic. The amount raised will finance Convert Group’s international expansion strategy and the further development of its two platforms, eRetail Audit and eRetail Content, aiming to disrupt the global FMCG eCommerce market valued for 2020 at €280Β according to Nielsen. Today the firm boasts a rich clientele with firms including 10 out of the 15 biggest global FMCG manufacturers such as L’Oreal, P&G, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, RB, Haleon, Henkel, Bayer, Beiersdorf, FrieslandCampina, Heinken, Barilla, Colgate Palmolive, Philip Morris International, Pierre Fabre, Abbott and others, and hundreds of online retailers including dominant players Ahold Delhaize, Carrefour and Rakuten.
Convert Group was founded in 2014 as an eCommerce consultancy by the then 41yr-old eCommerce serial entrepreneur Panayotis Gezerlis and since then CEO of the company. The firm immediately was a success with an astonishing average annual revenue growth rate of 74% until today, driven mainly by its consulting services. But in 2017, Convert Group‘s team saw an opportunity in the international eCommerce sector and they decide to pivot into an enterprise SaaS firm providing data-based online platforms & services to FMCG multinationals and retailers driving their profitable growth and increased market shares in the market segments of Online Pharmacy, Online Grocery and Online Beauty. The pivoting was led by the then 25yr-old Athens University of Economics & Business / Department of Management Science & Technology alumna, Elena Chailazopoulou, which was the firm’s first employee and today is the Product Innovation Director & Deputy CEO, owning also equal shares with Panayotis in the firm since mid 2019.
Elena Chailazopoulou, Director of Product Innovation & Deputy CEO of Convert Group and Panayotis Gezerlis, Founder & CEO of Convert Group
So what exactly does Convert Group bring to the table and what is their USP? It starts with eRetail Audit, the world’s first online platform to provide eCommerce Market Shares of sell-out consumer products (in value, units and volume) to FMCG manufacturers and online retailers from real-time aggregated data combined with meaningful commercial, marketing & eCommerce insights with the use of Machine Learning technology. Their platform was quickly adopted within 1 year by the entire industry in Greece, at which time Nielsen and IQVIA, two colossal American companies and the global Market Research leaders in consumer products and drugs respectively, approached them and signed strategic partnerships joining forces to launch in other countries.
Not resting on one success, in November 2019 Convert Group launched its second product, eRetail Content as the enabler of the perfect digital shelf presence for products sold online. This enterprise SaaS online platform offers 3 layers to eCommerce businesses: eCommerce product content distribution from manufacturers to online retailers (photos, videos, ingredients, SEO optimized descriptions, characteristics, searchable terms & category suggestions), eCommerce content compliance & availability monitoring by manufacturers, and finally, on-site and off-site tracking of eCommerce activations by manufacturers and online retailers such as newsletters, social media posts, on-site display banners and Google AdWords text ads. On the strength of innovative work in automated content aggregation and analysis and compelling design eRetail Content is proving to be an instant success for the company, as within only 3 months of launch, 10 annual contracts have been signed by multinationals such as P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Haleon, Bayer, Henkel, APIVITA, Nestlé, RB, Pierre Fabre, Gerolymatos International, Mattel and others.
And only 3 weeks ago Convert Group announced its third innovation, the first Data Marketplace in the eCommerce ecosystem, or as Panayotis Gezerlis describes it, “the SimilarWeb of transactional eCommerce data”- starting with the consumer healthcare industry and Key Account Data in online pharmacies. The marketplace allows direct collaboration between online pharmacies and consumer healthcare manufacturers based on a transparent data-exchange relationship under a revenue share business model. The marketplace will soon expand to more eCommerce verticals such as online grocery and online beauty, but the company doesn’t dismiss moving into non-FMCG segments such as sporting goods, toys, etc.
Back in 2014, Convert Group kicked off with 3 employees, today counting 45 talented data scientists, software engineers, consultants & analysts. The firm has been recognized as one of Greece’s 25 best workplaces in both 2018 and 2019 by the US-based Great Place to Work® International Institute.
Panayotis Gezerlis and Elena Chailazopoulou, the two Convert Group co-partners, commented on their first funding round:
“We celebrate our seed funding round, not only as a vital moment for our company, but also as a recognition of the effort and energy invested by all Converters to bring life into our vision: to lead Data & Analytics in eCommerce and soon omni-channel retail, by enabling consumer goods manufacturers and retailers to access meaningful and actionable commercial, marketing & eCommerce data in a seamless, unified way. We waited for 2 years after our MVP to seek financing, as we wanted to grow organically and on solid grounds. Today we are already preparing for our Series A round to finance our expansion into France, Mexico, Brazil & Russia within the next 2 years. We are very happy that Uni.Fund is our partner in this exciting journey ahead.”
From Uni.Fund‘s side, Konstantinos Lafkas, Partner added:
“It was a no-brainer for us that Convert Group’s innovative products, world-class services and mostly their talented team have the potential to disrupt the global eBusiness ecosystem. We are extremely happy that our investment will contribute towards making their vision come true.”
The €1.2Μ round by Uni.Fund is their biggest investment until today and one of the largest seed rounds awarded in Greece by any fund.