With a new $4 million round, the Bogota-based supply chain logistics technology developer Tül is prepping to expand across the Latin American region.
Founded by Enrique Villamarin Lafaurie and Juan Carlos Narváez, Tül's technology connects construction manufacturers to the small businesses across Latin America that are responsible for handling half of the inventory for construction jobs in the region, Lafaurie said.
Lafaurie previously spent 10 years working in the construction industry for Cementos Argos, the Colombian company responsible for a huge chunk of cement sales in North and South America.
"We're connecting big construction companies in the back to hardware companies at the front end. It’s a way where producers can connect to those stores and can talk to those stores and do promotions straight to those stores," said Lafaurie.
By digitizing what had been a primarily analog industry, the company has managed to hit a $10 million revenue run rate and sign up 3,000 stores since its launch eight months ago.
And that's just in Colombia alone, said Lafaurie. The company will soon open operations in Ecuador, which Lafaurie said was the second-largest hardware market (per capita) in Latin America.
The company now counts nine employees on staff and expects to ramp up hiring significantly with the new capital.
"Colombia was the most-locked-down country in the whole world. People were not allowed to leave their houses, but construction was deemed an essential business," said Eric Reiner, an investor with Vine Capital Management, which led the company's seed round. "Tül allowed hardware stores to ship products directly to the construction workers. With their logistics network they started a separate brand delivering sanitation equipment so that schools and laundromats could become sanitation stations."
As Lafaurie describes it, Tül's online service became a lifeline for the industry.
"The whole industry just shut down and we managed to keep those business open by not only helping them deliver straight to the jobsite, but by becoming the sanitation stations in the neighborhood. The outcome of that is very loyal customers to us that we helped," he said. "We have huge retention of customers just from that."