2021 has been a rosy year for China-based Amazon vendors looking for exits. Roll-ups, or brand aggregators, have been flooding China's export-oriented e-commerce market with capital to scoop up sellers. The roll-ups themselves are fueled by venture capital, such as Silicon Valley's Markai, which recently raised its seed round of $4 million from investors like Pear VC and Sea Capital to acquire Chinese brands.
Other aggregators targeting China have raked in greater sums. Nebula Brands, a Beijing-based Amazon aggregator, said Tuesday that it has closed a Series B funding round of more than $50 million. The investment was led by the Asian fund of L Catterton, a global private equity firm known for its consumer tech focus.
Financing the latest round also included Nebula's Series A investor Matrix Partners and its angel investor Alpha Startup Fund. The company has raised roughly $60 million to date.
As Amazon grew into a behemoth, many of its third-party Chinese vendors also thrived and became multimillion-dollar businesses. These exporters are now in need of greater capital and talent to sustain growth, and the top-performing ones are given two options: get equity funding to scale further, or sell the business and move on. The latter path is where roll-ups come into play.
"The Chinese third-party vendor marketplace is experiencing rapid growth, with the ability to quickly scale and provide high quality products efficiently to Amazon customers across the globe," Nebula's co-founder William Wang said in a statement.
"The model of aggregating Fulfillment by Amazon vendors and strengthening their operations has already proven to be extremely effective in some markets in the west and is set to take-off in China, where Nebula Brands is leading the charge."
With the new proceeds, Nebula is wrestling with a raft of foreign aggregators that have come hunting for Chinese sellers, including Berlin Brands Group, Razor Group and Thrasio. The startup, founded only in May, has already acquired one vendor and it's on track to close several more deals by the end of the year, it told TechCrunch.
Nebula currently operates a team of over 50 employees in China "with deep knowledge of the market and extensive on-the-ground sourcing, underwriting, and operating experience from previous roles at renowned e-commerce, technology, and financial firms," the company said. Its co-founders are Ryan Ren, who was a CEO at a "listed company;" William Wang, former head of integrated marketing at Lenovo; and Hardys Wu, former head of supply chain at Wayfair.