- We asked top venture capitalists to name the most promising B2B-marketplace startups of 2022.
- The result is a list of 23 marketplaces covering everything from carbon offsets to shift workers.
- VCs were asked to name startups in their portfolios and ones with which they had no financial ties.
Some of the most well-known tech startups are consumer-facing marketplaces, with companies like Uber and Airbnb reaching billions of dollars in value in the private and public markets.
Modern-day consumers are used to easily purchasing goods from digital marketplaces like Amazon, but businesses have often lagged. Many companies are still dependent on paper catalogs, in-person trade shows, or phone calls to buy inventory, from furniture to chemicals.
The COVID-19 pandemic made many of these procurement methods impossible as people avoided in-person contact. That’s led to the prominence of business-to-business marketplaces, which connect businesses with each other, in recent years, according to Meera Clark, a principal at Redpoint Ventures.
“Both pre-COVID but also very much supported by COVID, you’ve seen a much broader acceptance of digitization or innovation in some of these very legacy, dusty industries,” she said.
But that hasn’t influenced only the market for tangible goods. On the labor side, companies struggled with shortages, and workers emerged from the pandemic with a new propensity for flexibility. That’s meant a new receptiveness for alternative hiring approaches like labor marketplaces, Jenny He, the founder and general partner at Position Ventures, told Insider.
So B2B marketplaces for both tangible goods and labor became an innovative method to combat these issues. On the goods side, marketplaces can move buyers and sellers online for easier inventory discovery. On the labor side, they can help employers quickly fill vacant roles while still offering workers flexibility.
Already, the space has turned out several standout successes, like Faire, a B2B marketplace for unique goods that achieved a $12.4 billion valuation last year, and Clipboard Health, a labor marketplace for healthcare professionals that snagged its coveted unicorn status in April.
The industries that B2B marketplaces thrive in tend to be fragmented, with highly differentiated products that are difficult to replicate and buyers that make frequent purchases, according to Pete Flint, a general partner at NFX. The marketplace model is especially attractive for these industries because marketplaces can consolidate and easily display the supply, which brings transparency to both buyers and sellers.
Additionally, many startups make their product even stickier by building a whole ecosystem of software and financial-technology offerings around the core marketplace product. For example, startups will often add features like financing or business-management software.
Insider asked top investors to nominate the most promising B2B-marketplace startups they’d come across, both within and outside their portfolios. All funding numbers are according to PitchBook unless otherwise noted.
Here are the 23 most promising B2B-marketplace startups of 2022, according to VCs, listed from least to most capital raised: