Singapore e-commerce brand aggregator Rainforest has launched with a seed financing round of US$36 million ($48.16 million) to buy and grow digital-native brands. 

The funding round consisted of US$6.5 million in equity financing, led by London-based Nordstar, with participation from Insignia Venture Partners, and a US$30 million debt facility from a USA-based debt fund. 

See: E-commerce brand aggregator Una Brands secures US$40 mil seed round, former Lazada CEO among investors

The company is led by former executives of Carousell, Airbnb and Fave.

They include Rainforest chief executive officer JJ Chai, formerly senior vice-president of growth and strategy at Carousell and managing director of Southeast Asia and India for Airbnb; chief financial officer Jason Tan, former CFO at Fave and OVO based out of Jakarta, Indonesia; and chief technology officer Per-Ola Röst, software entrepreneur and a seven-figure ‘Fulfillment By Amazon’ (FBA) seller. 

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Rainforest CEO JJ Chai

The Singapore company will start by acquiring Amazon-native brands from brand owners globally, focusing on Asia-based FBA sellers. 

Amazon’s third-party gross merchandise value (GMV) was US$300 billion in 2020, growing 50% y-o-y. “With over 30% of the top third-party sellers based out of Asia, Rainforest is well-positioned to acquire these brands and scale them faster while providing sellers with an attractive exit opportunity,” says the company in a press release.

Operational since January, Rainforest has acquired three brands to date in the home and personal care categories. 

“It’s a great pleasure to provide these entrepreneurs a cash exit. We’ll be working hard to take their brands to the next level and hope to do the same for many more ecommerce entrepreneurs” says Chai, an INSEAD alum since 2006. 

“We have had the privilege of knowing JJ Chai for a long time, having worked closely with him when he was at Airbnb,'' says Ole Ruch, managing director of Nordstar Partners. “He is recognised as one of the strongest operators and executives in the region and we are delighted to partner with him and his two co-founders.”