Tech Transformers

This eBay for collectors just got $82M funding

Catawiki, an auction site for collectibles where every lot starts at 1 euro, has raised $82 million in a new round of funding.

The investment in the Netherlands-based site was led by Lead Edge Capital – previous investors in the likes of Alibaba and Delivery Hero – and involved Accel and Project A Ventures, according to the company.

Catawiki has set its sights on the established online auction site eBay as well as a number of other online auction websites, but the founder told CNBC that its unique selling point lies in the fact that it sells "exceptional objects".

"EBay started off selling collectibles, but it has now become more like Amazon where it is mostly buying new things," René Schoenmakers, CEO of Catawiki, told CNBC by phone.

"What you see in our space are many traditional auction houses, but they are aimed at very high-end things. But we are not after paintings of tens of millions of euros."

Douglas Graham | Roll Call | Getty Image

Instead, auctions on Catawiki are focused around collectible items such as coins or stamps. The Dutch start-up was founded by Schoenmakers who was an avid comic book collector.

One euro lots

Like most start-ups, Catawiki does not release a lot of specific financial data. But the company said revenues increased 300 percent over the last 12 months and it now sells over 15,000 lots per week.

All lots start at 1 euro and auctions are held weekly, quirks designed to help the company differentiate itself.

"When you start at one euro, it's a psychological effect, where people get hooked to the object, start bidding and really want to have it," Schoenmakers explained.

Catawiki said the $82 million raised will be used to expand the teams and move into new markets. It currently has 200 employees but is looking for more developers. At the same time, Schoenmakers said that one of the website's biggest selling points is the army of curators that it has – experts in specific areas that can authenticate items. Users wishing to auction something need to send a series of pictures and information to these curators. If it is deemed genuine it will then go up for auction.

The company never holds the item being auctioned. Instead, if a person wins the auction, the seller will send the item to the bidder directly. Catawiki holds the funds from the seller until the winner has received the item in good condition.

China, Middle East focus

Schoenmakers also said that the start-up is targeting the Asian and Middle Eastern markets due to the amount of wealth in those regions. A traditional Chinese and a Mandarin version of the site is to launch within a month to target buyers in the world's second-largest economy. Schoenmakers said the company is then likely to work on an Arabic version.

"We saw lots of traction in China and Hong Kong," Schoenmakers told CNBC.

"Later on we will do an Arabic version. For things like watches and jewelry and art it's an important market."