Wholesale fashion buying and crude oil refinement don’t have much in common — except both are run by a pair of Koch brothers. Peter and Karl Koch, not to be confused with titans of industry and conservative sugar daddies David and Charles Koch, are the men behind Balluun.
Balluun is a business-to-business startup that connects fashion designers with retailers. It incorporates social, management, and transactional platforms to simplify the entire process of wholesale buying. While other companies like NuOrder, Brandboom, and Joor are out there, Balluun is notable for putting the social networking aspect of the business at the forefront. And for raising $3.8 million.
Peter and Karl’s family owned a fashion retail business. They grew up traveling all over Europe with their parents to attend trade shows and felt first hand how expensive, tedious, tiring, and inefficient this process is. Now from their headquarters in Foster City, Calif., these German brothers have gathered 10,000 users on the platform, which they say is increasing by 700 each month.
“We knew that companies connect and transact at trade shows, yet they are prohibited by cost and time,” said CEO Peter Koch. “We developed our technology to exactly replicate the trade show experience by allowing fashion brands and retailers to discover, connect, collaborate, and transact in real time, as if they were meeting face-to-face.”
Companies and brands place their collections online, and buyers browse to look for potential business. They can reach out to people already in their network, or use the platform to discover and engage with new brands. Balluun describes the communication feature as “multilevel, thread-based microblogging” that companies can use for initial interactions, purchase orders, and payment processing. For designers, Balluun helps with exposure and distribution. Buyers benefit from an easier channel for discovery and less paperwork.
Finoris AG and a group of Swiss private investors participated in this first round of funding.