News release

Date: 21st August 2013

From skateboards to a collaboration with eBay

Brightpearl, which began within SETsquared’s business incubator at the University of Bristol, is now providing its retail software to both and

August 21st, 2013. A software company that started life as a university start-up project has launched a real-time inventory and listings management platform available to esellers using one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces.

Brightpearl, which began within SETsquared’s business incubator at the University of Bristol, is now providing its retail software to both and

Brightpearl’s Commerce Acceleration Platform now offers integrated inventory and listings management to sellers on and The two companies have been engaged in a multi-phase project to develop, beta test, release and co-promote these services to eBay sellers.

It’s a major coup for a company that was formed seven years ago off the back of a skateboard firm.

Friends and entrepreneurs Andrew Mulvenna and Chris Tanner co-founded a skateboard business, Lush Longboards, while at university. In researching inventory and accounting software to run their business, they were frustrated by the lack of software available to small but growing retailers, especially retailers who were trying to manage their selling activities across multiple channels, including bricks-and-mortar store(s), online store(s), as well as marketplaces such as eBay and Mulvenna and Tanner quickly realised there was a significant gap in the market for a more integrated solution tailored to this market.

To address this unmet need, Mulvenna and Tanner formed Brightpearl, cloud software that helps multi-channel retailers do what they do best: focus on merchandising and growing their businesses. The Brightpearl Commerce Acceleration Platform integrates data from customers, orders, inventory and accounting into a real-time, reliable business management system that enables multi-channel retailers to grow rapidly, efficiently and with greater insights.

Mulvenna and Tanner partnered with SETsquared, a partnership of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, and Brightpearl was brought into the partnership’s incubator at The University of Bristol.

With SETsquared’s help, Brightpearl secured a seed round of funding in early 2007. The company just completed its Series B round of $8 million, increased its number of employees to 80, and has expanded its customer base.

The Brightpearl - eBay announcement is the latest in a series of important integrations that Brightpearl is forging with leading marketplaces and front-end eCommerce providers. Brightpearl’s Andrew Mulvenna says that SETsquared has provided steady and substantive help at every step of the way.

“SETsquared has helped us add scale, source investment capital and provided us with solid strategic advice. Since working with SETsquared, we’ve grown to over 1,000 customers and we plan to continue to aggressively grow our business each year. Our vision is to become the preferred solution for multi-channel retailers.”

Graham Harrison, Partnership Director of SETsquared, added: “We are immensely proud of Brightpearl signing this partnership with eBay. Brightpearl’s success offers compelling evidence that if you spot bright entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas and provide them with useful tools for growth, they will flourish – very, very quickly.”

Other successful firms from the SETsquared incubator include the world’s first equity-based crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, and PrimerDesign, which produced the world’s first swine-flu detection kit.

Find out more at:


Notes to editors:

For interviews or further information contact: Laura[at]carswellgould[dot] T: 023 80 238001

A video of Andrew Mulvenna talking about the rise of Brightpearl is available for press to embed on their website. View the video at:

About SETsquared:
SETsquared is a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey which partners in enterprise activities and collectively supports the growth and success of new business opportunities through spin-outs, licensing, incubation and education. The partnership also works with industry through research collaboration and consultancy.

In 2013 alone it has helped companies within its incubator raise £34m in investment and this year saw the sale of one of its alumni businesses, Ubiquisys, to US giant Cisco for $310m.

SETsquared aims to raise the agenda for wider support for UK tech start-ups at an event in Westminster on November 27. Its ‘Accelerating Growth’ event, which marks its 10th anniversary, will provide an opportunity for key figures in UK business incubation to discuss what support UK technology start-ups need to achieve growth. Among those who will speak at the event will be Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board.

Earlier this year SETsquared was hailed as a ‘best practice’ model for business incubation in a paper presented at the first International Entrepreneurship Research Exemplars Conference. The document, Management, Strategy and Policy suggestions for European academic incubators: the Creation of a Start-ups’ Ecosystem in the South West England, was authored by Angelo Miglietta and Dario Peirone and copies are available via Carswell Gould on the details below.

Find out more at:

About Brightpearl:
Founded in 2007, Brightpearl’s cloud software and services help multi-channel retailers do what they do best: focus on merchandising and growing their businesses. Our Commerce Acceleration Platform integrates data from customers, orders, inventory and accounting into a real-time, reliable system. With Brightpearl, retailers can be confident their core data and processes are under control, saving time, money and creating a strong foundation for rapid growth. Brightpearl is integrated with a variety of channels including Magento, eBay, Bigcommerce, Shopify and Amazon. Since 2011, more than $700 million of gross merchandise value has been traded on our Commerce Acceleration Platform.

To learn more, visit:

Further quotes from Andrew Mulvenna:
“We began partnership with SETsquared in 2009, 18 months after we started Brightpearl. We had customers and revenue and wanted to scale the business, including internationally. We’d also been approached by investors and wanted help in dealing with them.”

“The most important help from SETsquared was mentorship. We’d already grown one business, but we weren’t experienced at dealing with venture capital investors. Nick Sturge and SETsquared provided access to mentors that could give us advice in different areas. Some external people were brought in ad hoc, but it was the SETsquared people who really made the difference.”

“Secondly, SETsquared challenged us to be more accountable to ourselves. When we started the business, we were so focused on growing and hiring staff that we didn’t take the time to think strategically. So we met monthly sessions with Nick Sturge, and also took part in SETsquared’s business review panels.”

“Help with securing funding was also key. SETsquared trained us in how to prepare a business case that would appeal to investors – they were key in getting us our funding. We weren’t experienced in how to present to venture capitalists, and in understanding their expectations.

“You don’t get many chances, so it was important to be well-prepared, and SETsquared’s training was a central part in Brightpearl securing funding. We were able to raise an unusually high amount of seed funding, and this was due to Nick Sturge helping us to negotiate and push the valuation up.”

“There were times where it was 11pm or midnight and we were trying to close the round and the investors came back with a counter-offer, and I emailed Nick and he called me right back. Greville Commins, SETsquared’s entrepreneur in residence, also provided lots of assistance.”

For more information, images or interviews please contact:

Laura Downton at Carswell Gould
T: 023 80 238001
E: Laura[at]carswellgould[dot]

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