Helsinki-based startup Starcart has successfully raised €3.5 million in seed funding, led by Inventure, a Nordic early-stage investor, along with participation from Finnish angel investors and Business Finland. The startup employs AI technology to enable users to purchase products from various online stores through a single interface, automating price comparison, availability checks, and the checkout process. Starcart plans to utilize the funding to expand its operations internationally by launching in new European markets in 2024, scale up its unique AI-powered shopping platform by adding a multitude of new stores, and also introduce features that promote sustainable shopping, including incorporating second-hand stores and recommending eco-friendly products and shipping methods.
As the only end-to-end shopping platform in the market, Starcart allows consumers to buy items from multiple stores with just one click, using one single interface. Starcart’s fully automated and highly scalable platform utilizes AI technology to find the best prices, availability and shipping times for over 15 million products from over 130 stores, while automatically making the purchases for the consumer.
Starcart completely removes the workload of comparing prices, finding availability and completing checkouts, by allowing consumers to just select the products they want to buy, and having Starcart do the rest. While Starcart is the only company doing this for physical goods, the model is similar to travel aggregators that allow consumers to find the best flight or hotel deals within one platform.
Since its launch in 2022 in Finland, Starcart has gained explosive traction, resulting in more than a tenfold sales volume increase in the past six months, and ongoing double-digit monthly growth. The team building this growth is a group of highly experienced ecommerce professionals.
“Over the past two decades, online shopping has surged in popularity, but it has also become much more time-consuming for consumers. The vast amount of products and stores available online means that people must navigate through a huge amount of options when buying anything. Starcart was created to solve this problem, and to make online shopping easy and enjoyable. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with customer satisfaction at 4.5 out of 5 stars. The feedback from merchants has also been very positive, with the low barrier of entry into the platform especially appreciated,” shares Pasi Ilola, Founder and CEO of Starcart.
The global e-commerce market, valued at $3.6 trillion in 2023, is projected to surpass $5.6 trillion by 2027 (Statista). Furthermore, e-commerce’s share of retail sales is expected to account for nearly one-fourth of all retail sales by 2026, with the current share being around 20% (eMarketer). Starcart’s unique AI-powered technology positions the company to capitalize on this significant market potential.
“Starcart’s insane metrics speak for themselves. The potential here is absolutely enormous, and the Starcart team is well on their way to rebuild and redefine the online shopping experience in Europe,” says Lauri Kokkila, Partner at Inventure and an early-investor in the company.
With the new funding, Starcart will expand its reach internationally, with launches in multiple new European markets planned for 2024. Additionally, the funding will be used to scale up Starcart’s unique AI-powered shopping platform, adding hundreds of new stores to Starcart. The 3.5 million euro funding also includes a 400,000 euro R&D loan from Business Finland.
“In the near future, we’re planning to also make it easy for consumers to shop sustainably, by introducing second-hand stores, and recommending sustainable products and shipping method options for our customers. We’re rapidly headed towards our ultimate vision, which is making Starcart the only shopping tool you’ll ever need. And this seems to be something that people really want, as it makes their everyday lives easier,” concludes Ilola.