The startup popup.lt, a curated marketplace for emerging local designers, has attracted 141K EUR in a pre-seed investment from leading Lithuanian business angels. This is the first investment round for the Lithuanian marketplace, of which the proceeds will be used to develop online processes and expand within the local market.
According to the designer, entrepreneur, and popup.lt CEO Erika Paulė, the investment consists of funding from private individuals, most of whom belong to the Lithuanian Business Angel network LitBAN.
The marketplace for local designers
“Lithuania may be a small market, but it boasts many unique fashion and jewelry designers. However, the designers themselves often take care of marketing, communication, and logistics, thus taking time away from what is most important to them – the creative process and development of their brand identity. Hiring professionals is a great luxury that most designers cannot afford. I believe that offering the community and its ecosystem a centrally-operating marketplace platform will create conditions for brands to grow both in the local market and internationally,“ notes E. Paulė.
According to the popup.lt team, the initial capital investment is aimed at product development, improving the customers’ shopping experience, and expanding the local market. At the same time, preparations for the development of popup.lt in other markets and communication with venture capital funds are underway.
The growing influence of Marketplaces
According to the lead investor and LitBAN member Erin Gainer-Grigaliune, marketplaces are on the rise globally; and popup.lt is well-positioned to capitalize on the trend. By carefully curating the group of designers it hosts, popup.lt enhances the brand equity of its designers and ensures a premium shopping experience for its customers.
“The popup.lt marketplace is uniquely positioned to showcase a host of emerging designers, with the vibrant Lithuanian designer community as a springboard into other geographies in the near future. The marketplace approach allows designers to focus their energy on being creative, which is where they excel, while the platform takes care of all critical e-commerce needs to give them optimal visibility,“ says E. Gainer.
Importance of centralized processes
One of the most significant challenges that local designers face is the broad scope of processes that need to be ensured in order to maintain steady workflows and sales. Often, designers themselves have to take care of communication, website maintenance, customer relations, logistics, and other essential processes. The popup.lt marketplace seeks to offer central management of all these time-consuming, administrative, business-critical processes – as a result, freeing designers to concentrate on creating.
“We understand the extremely complex challenges that our designers face while developing their brand. Taking into account the different needs of the team, we pay great attention not only to the development of the website itself but also to digital marketing, public relations strategy, and customer service. Our goal is to ensure that a professional of a specific field is responsible for each area of expertise,“ emphasizes E. Paulė.
Focus on a more sustainable design
The strategy of popup.lt has been shaped in view of global trends in sustainability and e-commerce.
“The global pandemic has accelerated e-commerce processes and changed consumer behavior. We believe that new habits, such as gaining a unique customer experience virtually, will remain a new norm. Also, we are witnessing changing consumer values and growing collective responsibility for the effects of climate change. Therefore, the sustainability factor of purchased design products becomes an increasingly important factor,“ states E. Paulė.
The carefully curated assortment is one of the most critical aspects of the popup.lt marketplace. According to the founders, the range currently consists exclusively of local designers who create small series with a strong focus on sustainable choices and production chains. Also, designers who are selected to join the popup.lt marketplace can join the platform free of charge.