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detected Turns One: Our First Year In Review

detected is one. I can’t quite believe it. We’ve achieved so much in just 365 days.

A few months ago, a strategic partner asked me what our USP was. When I answered product/timing fit, he told me that I was wrong. Our product/timing fit is strong, but that’s not what makes detected a standout technology company.

Our real USP,  he said, is team and speed - our ability to perform to the highest standards at lightning pace. 

About eighteen months ago, I’d just returned from a sabbatical. It was just the tonic I needed after a decade of work in eCommerce around the world. This came to an end just as the pandemic started and the world turned upside down.

I never sit still, so I used my connections to charter planes and boats to move PPE around the world. It felt incredible providing tangible help during a crisis, but many people I encountered on both the buy-side and sell-side were using the pandemic for their gain. 

I had walked headfirst into the dark side of crisis aid. 

During this time, my aunt died from Covid-19. Her passing gave me that extra motivation to fix the problem. I kept asking myself, “how can these fake sellers get away with it?”. So I decided to build a marketplace where sellers would be verified within an inch of their lives, where a business would have all of its credentials checked. Traceability and accountability at 100%.

But then I thought, why create a new marketplace when there are already thousands? Instead, why not make something that, as a consumer, you can tap that tells you if the business you are buying from is trustworthy?

detected was born that day.

Raising Investment

Having a great idea is one thing; building a business and having the capital to do it is another.

I spent last August asking investors: “Why isn’t there an easy way to verify a company selling online?”. No one could tell me. After all, due diligence shouldn’t stop just because someone is buying on a marketplace.

Our £250k pre-seed funding round closed quickly in September 2020. Weeks later, we raised another £600k seed round led by EmergeVest. That opened and closed within 72 hours. We have raised a further £900K recently, adding to our pool of high-profile industry investors, including:

Stephen Garland, TrustPilot’s Chief Technology and Product Officer, Rob Barnett, Former COO at RBS and current MD of Southern Water, Craig Sears-Black, EV Cargo Technology CEO, Carl Hartmann, Lyre’s Spirit Co. Co-Founder, Tink Taylor, Founder & President of dotMailer and Founder of dotDigital Group plc, Huw Slater, Chief Operating Officer at TravelPerk, and Ross Paquette Founder and CEO of MaroPost.

I’m not going to say that raising investment was easy, but I will say that it’s possible in today’s market. Of course, it requires focus, dedication, and the ability to stay positive when criticised - it’s all feedback! It was a steep learning curve but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

Our rapid fundraising and support from the industry demonstrate that we have the winning trifecta: the right idea at the right time with the right team to build it.

The Top 0.1%

One of my core principles at detected is that we focus on being in the Top 0.1%. It is our obsession. Every decision we make centres on the question, “is there a better way of doing this, and will what we are about to do put us in the Top 0.1%?”

Being in the Top 0.1% doesn’t mean which university you attended or what grades you got. It doesn’t mean riches or achievements. It is an attitude available to everyone. This encourages people from all backgrounds to forge a path toward their version of success and reach milestones they might not have thought possible.

A fast-paced, continually evolving startup is a challenging environment for anyone, myself included. Building the right team has required honesty, flexibility, and trust from each of us. It has required us to share and listen to constructive criticism and face our blind spots.

I couldn’t be prouder of our brilliant team and what they’ve achieved already. There are sixteen of us based at detectedHQ on the bank of the Thames in my home city of London, a mixture of full-time and part-time. We are supported by an extended, outsourced team of software engineers, cloud architecture experts, PRs, and marketers.

I will keep directing and supporting them, then get out of their way so they can shine.

Learning Fast and Pivoting

Just recently, we took the difficult decision to pivot our business model. Previously, we provided our platform to marketplaces for free, and the incentive was for the marketplace to help bring sellers onto detected paid profiles. 

We lost control of our revenue that way, and by providing something for free, its true value is often misunderstood. 

We have since moved to a model in which the marketplaces pay us directly based on the volume of sellers they have, and pricing is based on what level of verification they require. It ranges from the core credentials right the way through to ID Verification for company directors. This simplifies our message, reduces the audiences we are selling to and continues our revenue growth. 

Product Market Fit is hard to find, and it is the key to business success - our recent ‘pivot’ was in response to not finding this fit with our original proposition. We were close, but close isn’t good enough - I am relentless in my pursuit of being in the Top 0.1%.

We met our early adopters, gathered feedback, and listened to what they said about our product. We saw the signals and made the business model switch, and the vast majority of the existing marketplaces partners we had signed up to the change.

When you are first to market, you take risks, and there is no rule book to follow. The key is that you don’t get excited by success; you think long-term, and you make tough decisions if needed.

Solving The eCommerce Trust Problem with Technology

Marketplaces need to put the trust back into eCommerce if they’re to thrive. 98% of people we independently surveyed said they would be more likely to buy from a business online if they knew more about them.

Almost 40% of those surveyed said their trust in brands had declined over the past three years. This compared to less than 10% who said it had improved, with the remaining 54% unchanged since 2018. According to Edelman, "70% of people say trusting a brand is more important today than in the past – a shared belief among age groups, gender and income”.

To tackle the trust problem, we have built a completely bespoke AI-powered platform that draws on seller information in more than 160 countries and checks over 1 billion business records to create a consistent profile for every online seller. Our API ensures that if marketplaces don’t want to use our secure web dashboard to manage their sellers, they can connect the information to their own internal systems. 

We are actively solving the challenge of Know Your Business (KYB) requirements for marketplaces, and our latest investment lets us scale the value we provide customers globally. For example, we are now live with Chinese business information. By standardising and optimising the information marketplaces hold on their sellers, de-risking marketplaces from single data providers, and taking the pressure away from partners such as the PSPs to validate sellers, we are on a journey to being a globally recognised standard.

Twelve months ago, detected was an idea; the opportunity to build a business capable of solving an existential problem facing the entire eCommerce industry. Buyer trust, and for marketplaces, knowing who your sellers are. I couldn’t be prouder of our team and what they have achieved in the first 365 days. Here’s to the next 365 and beyond.

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