How Scalapay bypassed Australia and won over Europe

todaySeptember 30, 2021 2 5


Johnny Mitrevski and Simone Mancini took Afterpay’s buy now, pay model from Wollongong to the home of fashion, Milan, two years ago. Now it’s on the verge of unicorn status.

From Wollongong to Milan Fashion Week: Scalapay has achieved near-unicorn status in two years after deciding to bypass Australia.

When Johnny Mitrevski and Simone Mancini saw Afterpay’s growth accelerating, they thought: give us some of that.

Interest-free instalment payments were going gangbusters in 2018 and as Afterpay targeted the United States, the trend appeared to be global.

But the entrepreneurs quickly realised the local buy now, pay later market was saturated. It wasn’t only Afterpay engaged in a land grab for online shopping merchants. Zip, Openpay and Flexigroup were all scrambling for share, and others were in the wings.

So, the pair adopted an export mindset. They figured it would be better to be a leader in a fresh country than arrive as number five or six in a crowded and, ultimately, small market like Australia.

“We had this product, and we thought, where can we launch?” says Mitrevski. “We knew buy now, pay later works well with fashion. So, we thought, why not take it to the heart of fashion.”

In early 2019, they decided to target Italy. Mancini had been born there and speaks fluent Italian. He set up in Milan, and built a sales team to encourage the country’s top fashion brands to fund their customers’ purchases. The founders had a contrasting experience: Mitrevski stayed put, in his less stylish home town of Wollongong.

The software that’s now driving incremental sales for brands including Alberta Ferretti, MSGM, Luisa Spagnoli, Twinset and Alviero Martini has been built by Mitrevski’s 30-strong engineering team, who work out of the Innovation Campus at the University of Wollongong.

About 3000 European retailers, 2000 from Italy and the rest in France, Germany and Spain, are already on board. The team’s e-commerce product will soon be seen more broadly by fashionistas; Scalapay is headline sponsor of the Milan Fashion Week for the next three years.

The Italian job pays off

The decision to focus on Italy paid off this week. Scalapay has just closed a series A funding round, raising $210 million. The start-up has been valued at $US700 million, or just under $1 billion. It’s almost a unicorn, at the tender age of two.

Written by: admin-keli-2021

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