Mirakl Achieves Unicorn Status By Helping Companies Become Like Amazon

Amazon has been creating and destroying businesses throughout its 30-year history, making its founder the richest man on the planet. And the onset of the Pandemic only made Amazon’s eCommerce platform all the more powerful. Is it possible for companies to survive and transform their eCommerce business to become more like Amazon themselves?

Tech entrepreneur Adrien Nussenbaum says yes. He and his Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Philippe Corrot, created eCommerce platform company Mirakl to do just that. The fast-growing, Paris-headquartered company is now the leading marketplace solution, empowering both BtoC and BtoB brands to launch and grow an enterprise marketplace at scale. And achieving unicorn status along the way as most companies accelerated their eCommerce initiatives to survive the past year’s business lockdown.

“Mirakl was born in 2012. We have 450 people and over 300 customers across the globe. We started in retail, but today it stands across industries, like consumer-oriented industries, as well as more professional industries like food distribution, hospitality procurement and medical products,” says Nussenbaum.

Mirakl Co-Founder and Co-CEO Adrien Nussenbaum

Based on that growth trajectory, the company recently closed a $350 million investment round at a $1.3 billion valuation. The company has taken on a total of $393 million in funding to date from an international line-up of Venture Capital firms, including Permira, Bain Capital Ventures, Felix Capital, 83North, Elaia and others. Nussenbaum maintains that COVID has been the accelerant, not the cause. As many old-line retailers were forced to close their doors in the wake of the eCommerce revolution, those who embraced digital transformation using tools like Mirakl to build their own digital marketplaces are thriving.

“In 2021 we’ll reach roughly six billion dollars, 100% more from last year in terms of sales generated by our customers. There is a real belief at Mirakl that every business is facing a kind of now or never moment today, which has been aggravated by COVID,” says Nussenbaum.

The journey to building Mirakl began when Nussenbaum met his co-founder in 2004 and the pair began discussing the evolution of retail. Nussenbaum was a consultant for Deloitte and Corrot was the co-founder and CEO of a fashion accessories retail brand, Maÿrev. Foreseeing the extend of the disruption retailers would face with the rise of Internet and concerned by the structural limits of e-Commerce in a super-competitive environment, Corrot, Nussenbaum and Michael Ziegler created SplitGames in 2006, the first B2C omnichannel marketplace in the world at the time.

“We were talking about the evolutions of retail. His family was from retail. I had advised a lot of retailers as a consultant who were struggling. Digital was starting to grow. It was in the five to 10% of online spend, and it was still in the, kind of, not what it is today, but we were seeing the signs. One of the things, to put it very simply that emerged from this conversation was the future of business is going to be online. It’s going to take a bunch of years, but there’s no escaping that,” says Nussenbaum.

They felt that video games were ripe for disruption because it was highly fragmented in terms of number of products, highly commoditized and there was high price sensitivity from the buyers.

“We thought about what gamers want. Basically gamers, they want everything, the most choice possible from games, retro games, pre-owned games, new games, merchandising, accessories, hardware. So, we decided to build the best one-stop shop for gamers,” says Nussenbaum on the founding of SplitGames.

The business was growing, but perhaps not the run-away success they had hoped for. In 2008, they agreed to be acquired by French electronics retailer, FNAC, who wanted to expand their gaming business as well as use the SplitGames marketplace technology to create their own marketplace to compete against Amazon.

“We got acquired and we had a deal for three and a half years to basically build and run this marketplace. So, we found ourselves for these three and a half years growing a 100-billion-dollar business, observing all the difficulties of traditional incumbents to evolve and change: The channel conflicts, the fear of cannibalization, the internal politics,” says Nussenbaum.

During their time at FNAC, Nussenbaum and Corrot concluded that going forward every business would at some point need some form of marketplace to survive, and that they would have to build everything themselves as there was no technology available at the time to do it. “The next step in that journey was embracing this vision around marketplaces through the angle of being a vendor, a provider of technology specifically dedicated to this need. So that is how Mirakl was born in 2012,” says Nussenbaum.

“In France, which is our original birth market, we have roughly 70% of the top 30 online retailers. In 2020, Amazon’s market share decreased in France by 3%. The market share of our customers who have transitioned to having a marketplace grew by 3.1%. So, there is a new hope, the force is awakened, and we are part of the force,” continues Nussenbaum using his Star Wars resistance vs. the Empire analogy.

What’s ahead for Mirakl? Certainly, its unicorn status sets the company up to go public in the near future, though no formal plans have been set in motion yet, according to Nussenbaum. “Having the opportunity to be in a position where you’re living through those ‘now or never’ moments with iconic retailers, industrial companies, it’s quite exciting,” concludes Nussenbaum.

Originally posted on May 19, 2021 by Bruce Rogers, Forbes.