After rejecting $9 million two years ago this Melbourne retail tech startup just raised $2.25 million

Brauz’s Lee Hardham. (Source: supplied)

Melbourne startup Brauz has revealed it has completed its seed funding round after raising $2.25 million of capital.

Brauz, which claims to bridge the gap between online and physical shopping by analysing shoppers’ habits then recommending where to find their favourite products locally, has now had its app in the Apple App Store for four months and on Google Play for three months after three years of development.

“We have a one-of-a-kind offering, and people are recognising the potential impact our technology will have on the retail industry. We’re very excited about the next six months of growth,” said the startup’s founder and chief executive Lee Hardham.

The seed funding would be used for research and development, the company stated, while Hardham is heading to the USA in September to work on a series A round to fund international expansion. The funding target for that round was not disclosed.

Business Insider understands the latest backing has come two years after Hardham rejected two separate offers totaling $9 million from investors that “didn’t align” with his vision for the startup.

After declining the big money, the company continued to work on the app with software development house Buzinga, until last September when it started to build its own in-house engineering team.

That move turned out to be fortuitous, with Melbourne-based Buzinga this month sinking into liquidation with $250,000 of debts, leaving customers with unfinished projects or unsupported software — although Buzinga’s customer case study somewhat contradicts this timeline.

Either way, Brauz’s in-house software team now has seven staff members, developing “predictive algorithms” that calculates out various products that the customer may like depending on their preferences, then points them to the local retailer that has the items in stock.

The team is even working on virtual reality technology using Google Cardboard for an immersive shopping experience.

“Having in-house developers has allowed us to innovate faster, meaning we can control our own growth,” said Hardham.

“We’re excited to be building and growing our platform with some of the best talent in the local industry.”

Former News Corp business development manager Hardham founded Brauz in 2014, which has set a goal to have 2,000 retail partners by the end of the 2018 financial year and 20,000 by the year 2020.

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