Ecommerce platform Gander today announced the closing of a $4.2 million seed round led by Harlem Capital and Crossbeam Venture Partners.
The seed adds 26-year-old Gander founder Kimiloluwa Fafowora to the growing list of black women who have raised $1 million or more in VC funding — a feat no more than 250 have achieved. Fafowora told Vidak For Congress that the idea for Gander came from her own desires as an online shopper looking for an easier way to conceptualize the items she wanted to buy.
“A lot of the elements that are really helpful in bringing products to life don’t really exist online,” Fafoowa said.
To remedy that, in late 2021, she launched Gander, which collects and embeds user-generated video content in stores so shoppers can see what a product looks like in real life. Gander also has a creators’ marketplace, which gives brands direct access to the video content. With the fresh capital, Fafoowora hopes to increase the workforce in its sales and engineering teams and focus on further scaling the company.
“We’ve built our product to get key data that helps e-commerce brands just humanize their stores in a way that makes them as accessible as possible,” Fafoowora continues. “That helps the customer feel as happy as possible shopping.”
A hit with investors
Fafowora enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business with a keen understanding of wanting to humanize online shopping. While the pandemic kept her studies virtual, she conducted multitasking research, product experimentation, and networking.
Her product gained a lot of traction after its launch and has already landed some high profile customers, though she declined to share names. Gander’s success is evidenced by the fact that it took less than three months to close his $4.2 million seed. In fact, Fafoowora said fundraising early in the year wasn’t top of mind. But word of her company started to spread, and soon investors flooded her with offers.
“Before we knew it,” she recalls, “we had term sheets.”
“A lot of the elements that are really helpful in bringing products to life don’t really exist online.” Kimiloluwa Fafoowora, founder of Gander
Fafoowora met Harlem Capital managing partner Henri Pierre-Jacques and Crossbeam managing director Ryan Morgan through other investors. She said the two recognized the need for her product and understood the vision of where she wanted to take the company.
“As the ecommerce landscape has grown in recent years, brands have had to find ways to authentically connect and interact with customers,” Morgan said in a press release. “Not only does Kimiloluwa have a unique understanding of the needs and appetites of the modern consumer, but she also has experience in scaling e-commerce brands, which led her to develop a solution to improve communication between online brands and consumers. .”
Pierre-Jacques added. †We are major investors in e-commerce enabling tools and see Gander as the evolution of user-generated content for brands,” he said in the release.
Additional funding came from Boon Fund and a collection of venture scouts and angels.
This is just the beginning
Gander is a full circle moment for Fafoowora. She always wanted to start a business and comes from an entrepreneurial family. The idea of shaping her own future and helping others appealed to her, but for the longest time she couldn’t decide how to make that dream come true.
The light bulb came on while she worked as a strategist to help consumer brands grow. She often walked away feeling like something was missing from their online strategies. She thought someone should do something about it.
After graduating from Stanford this Sunday, Fafoowora plans to focus on scaling her business in hopes of helping brands reach buyers more easily, while also using creators to interact with consumers to help them make purchase decisions.
This is all part of her dream of ushering in a new era of e-commerce,” she said.
“Collecting and embedding video content is just the beginning.”