Flush with $87 Million, Boosted Commerce Prepares for Massive Amazon Shopping Spree

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Flush with $87 Million, Boosted Commerce Prepares for Massive Amazon Shopping Spree

Boosted Commerce, which hunts for top-rated companies on Amazon to buy, is about to go on a massive shopping spree of its own, purchasing 100 consumer packaged goods companies over the next four years with funds from a $87 million raise it announced Thursday.

The company uses its experience and resources to boost already successful Amazon sellers, hence the name. Rather than gamble on unproven concepts or spend hundreds of millions on research and development, as large corporations like Procter and Gamble have traditionally done, Boosted employees scour Amazon looking for companies with top reviews and offer to buy them and close in fewer than 45 days.


"When you find something that is ranked in the top five and has thousands of reviews, you know it's a good product," explained co-founder Keith Richman. "We're buying them and we're accelerating their growth."

For sellers, many of whom are mom-and-pops living in far flung locales around the world, Boosted offers a chance to take money off the table and bring in management expertise to help scale their company.

"We know the space very well," said co-founder Charlie Chanaratsopon. "The sellers are burnt out. Their life savings are in the brand. They are generally excited and pretty relieved [when we reach out]."

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) businesses now represent 60% of gross merchandise sold on Amazon, according to Boosted, and there are now eight million third party sellers on Amazon with 367,000 joining this year alone.

Some merchants have described bullying tactics by the retail giant and lawmakers have been investigating whether Amazon engages in anti-competitive behavior, but Richman says they see the online retail giant as a friend rather than a foe.

"Obviously we're not afraid of them," said Richman. "Amazon is incredible and when we look at the ecosystem of retail distribution, we look at them as a force to bet on."

Still, even though Boosted uses the ecommerce retailer to source products, part of its strategy involves broadening a company's distribution to include other outlets like Walmart and Shopify, which founders often do not have the expertise to do themselves.

Chanaratsopon previously founded Charming Charlie, a national chain of 290 stores that sold women's jewelry and accessories before filing for bankruptcy for a second time last year and closing its stores.

Richman co-founded Voi Technology, a leading European based mobility company and previously co-founded Break Media, OnePage, and Billpoint Inc. He currently serves on the board of directors of GrubHub, The Meet Group and Vostok New Ventures.

Investors in the round include Torch Capital; CrossCut Ventures; Elie Seidman, former CEO of Tinder; Tucker Kain, president of Los Angeles Dodgers; Ken Ramberg, founder of Good Pods; Scott Hendrickson, co-founder and partner, Permian Investment Partners; and Thomas O. Staggs, former chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company. (dot.LA chairman and co-founder Spencer Rascoff, co-founder of Zillow and Hotwire, also participated.)

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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