NearSt founder Max Kreijn and Nick Brackenbury.
Jane Imrie

Google-backed tech startup secures £2m seed funding to revitalise high street

A retail technology startup backed by Google has secured £2m in seed funding to drive more footfall into stores and boost its global offering.

NearSt has closed the multi-million pound funding round, which was led by consumer tech specialist YYX Capital, to encourage consumers to return to the high street.

The round also saw participation from angel investors Will Hobhouse (Heal’s, Jack Wills, Whittard of Chelsea) and Ben Laurie (Google Research & Machine Intelligence) alongside senior engineers from AI firm DeepMind.

Founded in 2015 by Max Kreijn and Nick Brackenbury, NearSt has developed technology that links products on shop shelves in real-time to nearby customers searching in Google.

Nick Brackenbury, co-founder of NearSt, explained: “Most of the products we buy online are stocked in a store nearby. Until today though, they were invisible to your smartphone, so online was the only easy option.

“We’re solving that problem for retailers by making it effortless to get their products seen by the millions of local searches happening everyday near their stores.”

“The magic of NearSt is how simple it is for a retailer to take advantage of this cutting edge technology. A few minutes and a few clicks is all it takes to get their inventory management system hooked up.”

The startup plans to use the funding to accelerate uptake by UK retailers with a series of new hires, as well as launch its offering in the US.

James Cox, founding partner at YYX Capital, added, “Many people presume e-commerce signals the death knell for the high street, but over 90 per cent of all purchases still happen in-store globally.

“This is a multi-trillion dollar market that technology has barely touched, and NearSt has the potential to truly transform how we all interact with physical retail.

“NearSt epitomises the type of next generation business that YYX Capital aims to back; those developing genuine innovations that will transform the way we interact with commerce on a daily basis.”

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