Scottish Enterprise among funders of app that connects retail buyers to new products

A Glasgow-based technology firm which has designed an app to connect retail buyers to new product lines has secured £300,000 in a funding round.

Product Guru, which has signed up the likes of John Lewis, Tesco and TK Maxx, has received financial backing from Asia-based retail technology investor Belmond Capital, Scottish retailer Scotmid and Scottish Enterprise.

Scottish Enterprise – the business support agency – contributed an £82,000 grant via its Innovation funding scheme; a further £160,000 was delivered through equity with the balance from smaller grants and other incomes.

The app, which is described in its promotional materials as being the ‘Tinder for retail buyers and product suppliers’, is designed to reduce the amount of time it takes high street retailers to find emerging product lines that customers want to see on shelves.

Simon Coyle launched Product Guru in September 2018 after spotting a gap in the market.

“After running my own companies for nearly 20 years, I have first-hand experience of how difficult it can be for emerging brands to get their products in front of retail buyers,” he said.

“From the retailers’ point-of-view, they may have lots of customer-facing modern technologies in their stores – such as automated checkouts or digital ads – but Product Guru is the first technology platform to shake-up their back-office product discovery operations and make it easier for them to discover the latest trends and find exciting new products for their customers.”

He added: “This £300,000 investment will allow us to further develop our platform for both buyers and suppliers with analytics and intelligent recommendations, while marketing our services to a much wider audience.

“Buyers are pushed for time, so Product Guru makes it quicker, easier and – ultimately – cheaper for them to connect with potential suppliers.”

Patricia Poon, Managing Partner and Founder of Belmond Capital, and a former head of retailer WH Smith’s business in Asia, said: “Product Guru is solving problems on both sides of the fence – it allows both local and international emerging brands to get their products in front of buyers and it allows retailers to stay on trend and choose from a wide selection of options cost effectively at the click of a button. Product Guru’s intelligent platform digitises retailers’ product discovery workflows, and greatly improves the productivity of retail buyers.  

“Belmond Capital invests in companies that are disrupting their markets, across retail, financial services, communications and industrial sectors.

“Product Guru fits perfectly into our portfolio and I’m looking forward to working with Simon to add more intelligent functionalities, and to scale the platform both in the UK and internationally.

Belmond Capital’s other retail tech investments include Nextail, a prescriptive analytics and AI-powered inventory optimisation platform based in Spain, Frenzy, an US-based exact-match visual search platform revolutionising computer vision and London-based Yapster, a mobile messaging platform for deskless hospitality and retail teams.

Paul Cross, from Scottish Enterprise, said: “What’s most exciting about Product Guru is that it helps brands and distributors get their products under the noses of influential buyers.

“Simon is not only growing his own business but is also helping other emerging brands and smaller companies – in Scotland and elsewhere – to grow as well.

“Backing businesses like Product Guru is at the heart of the Scottish Enterprise’s mission.

“Technology has revolutionised so many parts of our working lives and it looks like Product Guru is now set to change the way that buyers and suppliers do business.”

Product Guru operates a freemium business model. Basic features are free for suppliers and retailers with a subscription service available to brands providing sales analytics, product engagement statistics, product trends and other rich-data analytics.