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Waterloo-based unicorn Faire doubles valuation to $2.5 billion

Faire, a Waterloo-based retail innovator, has increased their valuation to $2.5 billion on the back of a $170 million Series E raise.

Less than 12 months after becoming a unicorn, retail innovator Faire has doubled its valuation to $2.5 billion with a $170 million Series E funding round. The company plans to use its new capital to expand internationally, entering the United Kingdom in 2021 and other European countries soon afterward. The company is also shifting to expand its customer base to include larger retailers with 5-10 locations.

Since its founding in 2017, the company has raised nearly $440 million, according to Forbes.

A fast-growing scale-up that helps small businesses discover and stock new products, Faire has helped so-called mom-and-pop shops compete against giants like Walmart and Amazon. The company’s algorithm curates product suggestions that fit with a business’s product offering and allows its customers to return unsold inventory, which reduces risk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faire platform has seen a spike in use as small businesses try to keep up with demand.

“There has been an outpouring of support from communities and people are going out of their way to shop local right now because they recognize how important they are to the communities and want to make sure they get through what has been a really difficult year,” said Max Rhodes, Faire’s co-founder and CEO, in an interview with Forbes.

The pandemic initially added a new challenge for Faire, with inventory orders decreasing more than 60% in the first months of the global shutdown. The company pivoted to support its customers, including offering extensions on payment terms and waiving fees, while also adding high-demand products like masks, cleaning supplies and food to the marketplace. In the end, the pandemic has shown small businesses that they need to pursue efficiency more aggressively to stay competitive and Faire is an ideal partner to make that happen.

“The whole COVID situation really accelerated that. More stores realized that for them to be competitive and to survive they need to be more efficient and buying online is a way of doing that and we are here to help them,” said Marcelo Cortes, Faire’s co-founder and CTO, in an interview with Communitech News.

This is the second unicorn-related announcement in Waterloo this week as Arctic Wolf just raised $200 million to take their valuation over the $1 billion threshold. ApplyBoard, a local edtech company, also became a unicorn in 2020.

If you’d like to hear more about Faire’s growth, check out Waterloo EDC’s recent webinar with Cortes on the company’s international location strategy.

Update: In June 2021, Faire announced a new $260 million funding round and a $7 billion valuation.

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