The news: Yesler, the Seattle-based startup creating an Expedia-like experience for the volatile lumber markets through a software-enabled platform, raised $5 million.
The tech: Founded in October 2019, Yesler spun out of the startup studio Pioneer Square Labs and features a platform that can facilitate lumber transactions and communications with different industry players. It also aggregates data to provide analytics of the lumber market, such as supply and demand, to assist buyers and sellers in their decision-making process. The goal is to make comparing lumber prices as easy as finding the best hotel price on Expedia.
The headwinds: Less than a year after the startup’s launch, it had to deal with a volatile housing market and fluctuating lumber prices caused by strained supply chains and the global pandemic. This industry tumult stalled Yesler’s adoption because industry professionals didn’t have the time to experiment with a new system, Yesler founder Matt Meyers told GeekWire in an email.
“We made great progress despite those challenges and look forward to more normal volatility and supply chain challenges as a tailwind in tech adoption for this traditional industry,” he said.
The tailwinds: Meyers says the number of people in the industry who have had an experience using the Yesler platform has grown this year, with transactions on the marketplace up 10-fold. He added that the massive lumber industry is mainly fragmented and due for disruption, creating an untapped addressable market for the company to go after.
The customers: Lumber traders can utilize Yesler to organize buying, merchandising and selling lumber, Meyers said. He added that they can also manage communication, as well as discovery of pricing and availability of lumber supplies. Another use case for Yesler is for contractor lumber yards. Yesler provides supply chain information and other market data, which can improve efficiency and drive their profit, he said.
The company makes its money by taking a fee per transaction. Prices remain stagnate, meaning the seller can lock in their price before each transaction and the buyer knows their price was set by the seller, not Yesler.
The team: The 13-person company was founded by Meyers, who previously worked as vice president of sales, marketing and supply chain at Seattle-based Weyerhaeuser. He is joined by CTO Jeff Lubetkin, who comes from Expedia and Zillow where he led and scaled engineering teams, and Executive VP David Helmers, who previously led Weyerhaeuser’s $1.5 billion building materials distribution business. The fresh cash will go towards expanding its software engineering capacity and its user experience teams.
The competition: The company could theoretically face competition from established lumber traders who could develop their own tech-enabled systems in-house. There are also a number of startups going after this market, such as Chicago-based MaterialsXchange.
The funders: The company raised $10.2 million to-date. The current round was led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from existing investors PSL Ventures, Tech Square Ventures and Ascend. Phil Boyer, partner at Crosslink Capital, will join the Yesler board of directors as part of the funding round.
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