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From skateboards to a collaboration with eBay

Andrew Mulvenna and Chris Tanner, the co-founders of Brightpearl

Andrew Mulvenna and Chris Tanner, the co-founders of Brightpearl

Press release issued: 20 August 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, 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. 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 Sheffield. 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.

Andrew and Chris quickly realised there was a significant gap in the market for a more integrated solution tailored to this market.

To address this unmet need, Andrew and Chris 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.

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 said: “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.”

Nick Sturge, Director of the Bristol SETsquared Centre, said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege working with Chris and Andrew over last few years and supporting them as they have grown to become this world class company. It is yet another indicator of the quality of business emerging from the tech cluster around Bristol & Bath.”

The Bristol SETsquared centre has successfully supported over 150 companies which have raised more than £75million in equity, grant and debt funding.

It’s an exciting time for the centre, which will soon spearhead a new business and innovation hub at The Engine Shed – an iconic Grade I listed building built by Brunel, which previously housed the Empire and Commonwealth Museum at the entrance to Bristol Temple Meads station.

A £1.5million investment will see it become a focal point for Bristol’s drive to generate inward investment and encourage a new generation of high growth businesses when it opens later this year.

Further information

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. For further details see or

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