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Balluun raises $8.7M to expand its trade show technology beyond fashion

Above: CEO Peter Koch being interviewed at a fashion trade show.

Image Credit: Balluun Facebook

Balluun has raised $8.7 million to expand the fashion trade show that never sleeps.

Balluun’s platform streamlines the process of buying fashion wholesale by taking a social approach. Companies and brands place their collections online and buyers browse through to look for potential business. Both sides add people to their network (like Facebook or LinkedIn) and reach out to people they want to work with. Designers use the marketplace to gain exposure, find new distribution channels, and increase sales. Buyers use it to save them time on sourcing and purchasing inventory for their stores.

Once buyers and designers connect through Balluun, the company offers tools for placing/accepting/tracking orders, managing sales, and processing payments. Every member receives a ticker of sorts with relevant information about initial interactions, communication, orders, and payment processing.

The company was founded by the Koch brothers (not the commodities-titans-Americans-for-Prosperity Koch brothers). Peter and Karl Koch’s family owned a fashion retail business and the boys spent their childhood traveling all over Europe with their parents to attend trade shows. CEO Peter said that the process is expensive, tedious, tiring, and inefficient. Most of the business is conducted in-person and on paper, and the industry has been slow to adopt newer technology.

“We knew that companies connect and transact at trade shows, yet they are prohibited by cost and time,” Peter Koch told VentureBeat. “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.”

Balluun competes with startups Joor, NuOrder, and Brandboom that are also developing solutions for fashion wholesale. While starting with fashion, the Koch’s vision is to be the leader in facilitating wholesale commerce across a range of industries. The company recently announced a partnerships with Advanstar Global, a large trade show organizer in the US. Advanstar will use Balluun’s technology platform for its trade show portfolio, which includes events in the fashion, power sports, veterinary, healthcare, and automotive sectors.

Finoris AG, a private Swiss investment group, led this second round of investment, which will be used to scale the platform and extend it into new verticals and geographical markets. Finoris also led Balluun’s $3.8 million Series A last year.  Balluun is based in Foster City, Calif.

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