February 2, 2022

Flight Plan #15 - Our Investment in Instant

Announcing our first investment into Instant. Seamless 1-click checkout experiences

Written by

An Vo

Instant Pre-Seed Investment Notes

Liam Millward and co-founder William Gao have joined forces to help bring beautiful, seamless 1-click checkout experiences to e-commerce. They’re exactly the type of founders that we want to back - hungry, ambitious with deep domain expertise and an enormous vision to solve a problem that they see as their life’s work.

For a Founder and CEO who is only 18, Liam has the energy, drive and hustle to build a foundational company, in addition to having the requisite maturity and experience to engage top-tier investors, C-level and VP-level execs to build partnerships. We are looking forward to supporting Liam on his journey to speed up the e-commerce experience.

We’re excited to have partnered with Brendan Hill as part of our TEN13 Maverick Program, which allows up-and-coming solo capitalists to lead their own investments on the TEN13 platform. Brendan has known Liam for a number of years and helped him along the way with Instant and when there was an opportunity to participate in the round with the help of TEN13, we were super excited to be able to team up with Brendan in the competitive seed round alongside lead investors Blackbird.

The Problem:

Checkout in e-commerce has become a bit of a nightmare. With numerous payment buttons and unnecessary complexity, 7 out of 10 consumers still abandon their cart.

Shoppers have come to expect the simplicity of Amazon’s one-click checkout, allowing users to flow through the checkout process in one tap (instead of the average 17). But while Amazon commands an extensive reach, their checkout technology is confined to their ecosystem and not available to other e-commerce stores. The problem is, we have come to expect the ease of an Amazon-like checkout experience everywhere. This is what Instant is aiming to accomplish, bringing a one-click checkout experience to millions of shoppers.

7 out of 10 consumers abandon their cart because the checkout experience is too complicated (the average checkout flow contains 17 clicks to complete a purchase and the average mobile e-commerce cart abandonment rate is 85%). In 2020, e-commerce sales in the US and EU alone could have been increased by $260 billion with an improved checkout experience.

Solution

Instant is solving this problem by building the world’s most simple checkout experience. They are starting by solving the abandoned cart problem with the eventual goal to create a ‘checkout as a platform’, building an ‘amazon marketplace’ of e-commerce products for merchants, increasing their revenue across the four core pillars of checkout (including a fraud engine), data analytics, social commerce and payments (including the integration of BNPLs and crypto).

Their vision is not limited to just a 1-click checkout experience, they are aiming to be the home of simple transactions anywhere. Whether that’s on e-commerce stores, Instagram stories, or an outdoor advertising QR code. Instant will create a simplistic experience from anywhere, from direct browser devices to potentially integrating into bill payments and more. Shoppers will have a single identity to shop securely, wherever they are.

Starting with e-commerce, Instant will reduce the 17 clicks on average that it takes to complete a purchase online, providing a 1-click checkout experience. Instant has also put a heavy emphasis on making the onboarding process as easy as possible for new merchants. This process takes less than 5 minutes for a new seller to install and start using Instant on their site.

In addition to direct e-commerce checkout companies, large payment service providers including Stripe and Braintree (owned by PayPal) offer pre-built and customisable checkout solutions. While these solutions are a viable alternative for some merchants, in practice their use cases are limited. The pre-built checkouts are extremely limited in functionality, and a merchant would need dedicated engineering resources to implement, maintain and update a customisable checkout. Ultimately, both Stripe and Braintree are focused on payments and handling the underlying financial infrastructure as their core value proposition.

Source: Lightspeed Venture Partners. Instant is targeting the payments and checkout component of the decentralised e-commerce stack.

Despite the multiple players in this space, e-commerce is becoming so big and so critical to the global economy that multiple players will be successful. We believe the winners in this space will be the companies that can successfully develop the right value propositions for the right target customers while being able to navigate the technical complexities that come with developing a solution aligned with the 'headless' e-commerce megatrend.

Future of Commerce:

One of the themes we have been bullish on at TEN13 is the future of e-commerce and the growing set of e-commerce enablement tools that will be required to service the record amount of e-commerce expenditure and companies now building e-commerce businesses.

Our outlook is shaped primarily by three distinct drivers:

Source: Lightspeed Venture Partners

Why we Invested:

Strong Founding Team: Liam and Will have the e-commerce domain expertise and the firepower to go and solve this massive problem.

  • Liam Millward Co-Founder & CEO: 18-year-old child prodigy & co-founder. Started his first business at age 14 which was a digital travel magazine that he grew to 50k monthly readers, partnered with 190 councils around Australia, and won multiple tourism grants. Wound this down when COVID hit and it became difficult to produce content. His second business, started at age 16, was an e-commerce store that he grew to $10k MRR. Having cart abandonment issues, the idea for Instant was born. Fast-tracked his education to finish year 12 at age 16. Liam founded Instant in November 2020.
  • William Gao - Co-Founder & CTO: has been a full-time software engineer since the age of 17. Tech and product lead at Wisetech ($17b market cap) before joining Liam as Co-Founder of Instant in May 2021.

Major Opportunity: Massive and growing market:

Strong Aligned Investor Backing: Blackbird Ventures is leading with participation from strategic angels like Larry Diamond (Founder of ZIP), Simone Mancini (Founder of Scalapay), and Huey Lin (founding COO at Affirm). These investors are able to help plug Liam and the Instant team into the right e-commerce networks, as well as helping to mitigate some of the future funding risks that many pre-Seed startups can sometimes face.

Liam and the team at Instant are hiring across Engineering, Marketing, Operations, and Sales!

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