November 4 2013
by Thanasis Delistathis

Raise your (recycled) glass to Bambeco

New Atlantic Ventures just welcomed the entrepreneurs behind Bambeco to our portfolio. Bambeco sells sustainable goods for the home. My favorite item Bambeco sells right now is the Vintage Champagne Ice Bucket, reclaimed from French champagne caves and hotels in Paris (while supplies last) – fitting for the occasion.

Today, Bambeco announced it raised $4.5 in Series A funding. We led the round and co-invested with Tom Dann and his team at Maryland Venture Fund. Philanthropist and Team in Training founder, Bruce Cleland and a number of other angel investors, who get Susan’s triple bottom line strategy, joined also. We think they’re on to something. So do major conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy, World Wild Life Fund, Oceana and The Chesapeake Bay Foundation who have become environmental partners.

Operating out of an old converted warehouse in Baltimore, Bambeco is addressing a large, passionate and loyal set of consumers who traditionally have struggled to find sustainable products for their home. Americans spend more than $157 billion annually on home furnishings, yet 61 percent report they can’t find eco-friendly options, a choice that is increasingly an important consideration to consumers. The Bambeco founders have the right experience with iconic brands to fill a significant hole in the retail ecommerce market that continues to see double-digit annual growth.

The minute I met co-founder and CEO Susan Aplin, I knew she was someone I wanted to get to know. Previously, Susan ran Williams-Sonoma’s $1.5 billion ecommerce business, which includes Pottery Barn and West Elm franchises. She had the right e-commerce experience, but she also had a sense of mission to serve the “dark green” consumer market, comprised of loyal consumers who will go out of their way and often willing to pay a premium to buy organic and sustainable goods – the kind of shopper you see at Whole Foods.   It reminded me of a friend of mine who was looking to buy a patio set a few years back and after lots of research only bought one that was made of recycled materials.

The company had what we look for in e-commerce deals: a unique market with a target-rich customer set; the ability to build a brand driven by a clear sense of mission; loyal customers with high repurchase rates; unique products that stand out; a high percentage of items that can be directly shipped from the supplier, reducing inventory costs; and very healthy margins.  100% of the goods on Bambeco’s site are vetted all the way back to their origins in the supply chain to be green.  That creates a high degree of integrity in the customer experience that allows the company to have the highest conversion of visitors to customers of any e-commerce business I have looked at (sorry I can’t disclose that percentage :) ).

This funding will allow Bambeco to expand the business with private label, globally sourced goods. And now they can continue to explore new channels of distribution.  Bambeco is squarely positioned in a market with huge growth potential. They will also set the gold green standard for driving sustainability through every aspect of the ecommerce business.

Here are some of my favorite items on the site right now: the confetti recycled glassware collection, the root wood appetizer platter, the vineyard recycled wood yellow wide board frame, the bamboo tablet stand, and the vintage wine crate.

Congratulations to Susan and the team at Bambeco. Please raise your (recycled) glass for a toast.


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