Fuel Ventures leads a £115k pre-seed round in Hibana

The round was led by the SEIS Fund at Fuel Venture, to support Hibana’s go-to-market launch.

What is Hibana?

Independent brands are on the rise, due to their inspiring backstories and personal feel to customers. However, they are not always easy to discover online. Independent brands often lose out to bigger brands with larger ad budgets, and prohibitively high fees on other marketplaces that only accommodate established brands with high margins.

Hibana is the first story-led marketplace, solely dedicated to independent brands. Hibana puts independent brands and their powerful stories at the forefront.

Peter Dakin and Nick O’Quinn started Hibana during the COVID-19 pandemic to replicate the joys of browsing and discovering brands in real life. At Hibana, they seek to bring customers a curated collection of independent brands across a wide range of product categories. Hibana already has over 75 brands live on their platform.

Meet the brands

Since soft launching in February, Hibana now hosts over 75 brands. Hibana is home to independent brands that have been hand-picked for their authenticity, purpose and shared vision for sustainable consumption.

From Nemi Teas who provides employment to refugees to give them job readiness skills, to Fable Yoga who’s yoga mats are made from natural rubber, to Hiut Denim Co. whose mission it is to revive local denim craftsmanship and bring jeans manufacturing back to the Welsh town of Cardigan, Hibana supports brands that do good for people and the planet.

Meet the founders

Peter Dakin is a successful entrepreneur, having previously established Think Blue, a profitable tech reseller company that partnered with the likes of Hewlett Packard and Samsung. In under 3 years, Peter scaled Think Blue to a £3m turnover national provider. After four years at Think Blue, Peter decided to exit, sell his shares and pursue something completely new. Having always been inspired by independent brands, including maintaining a blog during his twenties celebrating independent culture in his home city of Nottingham, Peter set out to build Hibana – a business that celebrates the very best of them.

Nick O’Quinn is a brand strategist. Nick was the former Strategy Director at Creature London, an independent advertising agency. Nick has extensive experience using audience insight and creativity to grow brands, including Mastercard, British Red Cross and Mr. Kipling. After a career of helping big businesses, Nick has shifted his focus to supporting small independent brands across the UK to help them tell their stories at Hibana.

Covid-19 and the boom in E-commerce

Hibana was founded during the covid-19 pandemic. As conscious consumers, Peter and Nick found it hard to shop for independent brands online after high street shops closed due to the coronavirus. The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world, and has significantly increased the number of consumers that use e-commerce. Hibana provides a place for consumers to discover and buy from independent brands online.

Check them out at https://hibana.co.uk/ ⚡️

If you are an entrepreneur looking for investment, please apply here or email your deck to alice@fuel.ventures or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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