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From skateboards to a collaboration with eBay

A software company that started life as a university start-up project has launched a real-time inventory and listings management platform available to esellers using one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces.
Brightpearl, which began within SETsquared’s business incubator at the University of Bristol, is now providing its retail software to both ebay.co.uk and eBay.com.
Brightpearl’s Commerce Acceleration Platform now offers integrated inventory and listings management to sellers on eBay.co.uk and eBay.com. The two companies have been engaged in a multi-phase project to develop, beta test, release and co-promote these services to eBay sellers.
It’s a major coup for a company that was formed seven years ago off the back of a skateboard firm.
Friends and entrepreneurs Andrew Mulvenna and Chris Tanner co-founded a skateboard business, Lush Longboards, while at university. In researching inventory and accounting software to run their business, they were frustrated by the lack of software available to small but growing retailers, especially retailers who were trying to manage their selling activities across multiple channels, including bricks-and-mortar stores, online stores, as well as marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. Mulvenna and Tanner quickly realised there was a significant gap in the market for a more integrated solution tailored to this market.
To address this unmet need, Mulvenna and Tanner formed Brightpearl, cloud software that helps multi-channel retailers do what they do best: focus on merchandising and growing their businesses. The Brightpearl Commerce Acceleration Platform integrates data from customers, orders, inventory and accounting into a real-time, reliable business management system that enables multi-channel retailers to grow rapidly, efficiently and with greater insights.
Mulvenna and Tanner partnered with SETsquared, a partnership of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, and Brightpearl was brought into the partnership’s incubator at the University of Bristol.
With SETsquared’s help, Brightpearl secured a seed round of funding in early 2007.  The company just completed its Series B round of $8 million, increased its number of employees to 80, and has expanded its customer base.
The Brightpearl – eBay announcement is the latest in a series of important integrations that Brightpearl is forging with leading marketplaces and front-end eCommerce providers.  Brightpearl’s Andrew Mulvenna says that SETsquared has provided steady and substantive help at every step of the way.
“SETsquared has helped us add scale, source investment capital and provided us with solid strategic advice. Since working with SETsquared, we’ve grown to over 1,000 customers and we plan to continue to aggressively grow our business each year. Our vision is to become the preferred solution for multi-channel retailers.”
Graham Harrison, Partnership Director of SETsquared, added: “We are immensely proud of Brightpearl signing this partnership with eBay. Brightpearl’s success offers compelling evidence that if you spot bright entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas and provide them with useful tools for growth, they will flourish – very, very quickly.”
Other successful firms from the SETsquared incubator include the world’s first equity-based crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, and PrimerDesign, which produced the world’s first swine-flu detection kit.

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey