Liam Millward and William Gao might be the youngest founders that venture capital firm Blackbird has ever worked with, but both have had plenty of tech experience before raising cash for their e-commerce start-up Instant.
After finishing year 12 at the age of sixteen, Millward had already launched a number of business enterprises including his own online store, while Gao spent school holidays working for ASX-listed WiseTech Global before going on to study computer science and creating a pet accessories business as a side hustle.
That early experience led the duo to create Instant, an online checkout platform that has just closed out a $2.2 million pre-seed raise with backing from well-known investors, including Blackbird Ventures, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, Zip founder Larry Diamond and Reinventure.
The teenagers’ tech backgrounds have also helped shape the ambitions for their company: to build the future of a frictionless economy.
“Anywhere you see an item, we want to give you the ability to purchase that item instantly. We’re sticking away from being a one-click checkout and want to be the Amazon Marketplace of ecommerce,” Millward, 18, says.
Instant launched in a small handful of stores at the end of 2021 and its founders are now ready to formally launch the company and expand its user base.
The company’s core product is a one-button payments platform that can be used anywhere online. Customers fill out their payment and delivery details once and then every time they shop at a store that uses Instant, they can make purchases instantly.
Both Millward and Gao have seen first-hand the high levels of “abandoned carts” in their own online stores, and believe their platform will help solve this headache, whether that’s for paying bills or buying products promoted on social media.
“One of the main problems I encountered as a merchant was really high abandonment rate. From my experience, I knew this was a real problem,” Gao says.