Co founders Evan Jia Levi Facwett Nathan Taylor Mark Song
Customer story

Partly: Driving change in the auto parts industry

This article was published on Jul 12, 2021, 2:40 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Digitally disrupting the $1.9 trillion auto parts market sounds tough. But Partly, with support from Callaghan Innovation, is doing just that with their global platform for replacement parts.

What's in this article

    At a glance

    • Christchurch-based tech startup Partly is digitally disrupting the world’s $1.9 trillion automotive parts market, after noticing the incredibly complex landscape while focused on a previous business.
    • Partly has accessed a range of support from Callaghan Innovation including a number of grants that helped the company grow their workforce and invest in R&D.
    • With their database encompassing a huge number of parts, and products being used around the world, Partly’s stock is rapidly growing rapidly - to the point where in 2022 they were New Zealand’s fastest growing start up. 

    Structuring the unstructured

    Over a billion cars worldwide. Over 85 billion different auto parts. All those parts produced by thousands of different makers, in different locations, to different standards, all referred to in different ways, and with new, tweaked versions constantly added. It’s an incredibly complex landscape.

    What's more, get just one of many aspects of the data related to a part wrong and the replacement might not fit, or importantly, work.

    It’s a situation that, to date, has made it difficult to buy and sell auto parts online. But Christchurch-based startup Partly is on a mission to rein in this complexity – and digitally disrupt the $1.9 trillion auto parts market in the process.

    “We’re taking this incredibly complex and unstructured data and structuring it into one core, centralised database,” says Partly Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Nathan Taylor.

    “Then we’re providing access to that database to automotive manufacturers, distributors and marketplaces around the world, enabling automotive fitment parts to be easily bought and sold online.”

    Scoping opportunities

    Partly was created after the team saw an opportunity and pivoted away from their previous venture, online marketplace AllGoods. However, it was initial grant funding from Callaghan Innovation that helped them undertake the R&D to see if they could in fact look to relieve the pain points of those buying and selling automotive parts online.  

    “The R&D work actually turned out to be more of a scoping exercise,” says Taylor, “because through that process we discovered that this fitment issue is actually a massive global problem, which looks like it’s going to be solvable but will require a lot more upfront R&D.” 

    Even with the majority of the business’ growing workforce focused on R&D, the nature of the market problem Partly is trying to solve means attracting talented staff is key. Accessing both R&D Experience Grants and R&D Career Grants has assisted them with this, enabling Partly to take on students. 

    “They’ve been amazing people who we ended up hiring, and who are still with us today,” says Taylor.  

    Partly has also drawn on the expertise of our Research and Development Solutions’ team to help solve some of its core data problems.

    “We're in need of some of the smartest minds in the country to work on these data problems and are pleased that the Callaghan Innovation data team are able to provide some of those people,” 

    - says Taylor. 

    Foot to the floor

    Partly’s potential was obvious from the start. As a result it has attracted significant investor interest along the way, with funding raised giving Partly the title of New Zealand’s fastest growing start-up in 2022. This included raising $1.7 million in 2020, $3.7 million in 2021, and a further $37 million in 2022.  

    Product wise, within 18 months of launch, the business’ database already extended beyond 55 million types of auto parts that can be accurately matched to vehicles, capturing approximately 20 per cent of available part types. 

    This allowed Partly to launch products such as Partly API, which can power parts-matching capability on customers’ websites; and PartsPal – an e-commerce product for auto parts sellers.

    Currently sold in 13 countries, Partly’s products are aimed at everyone from manufacturers wanting to sell directly to customers, to parts distributors wanting to streamline supply chains, to automotive dealers and dismantlers. This has resulted in Parlty powering over $150 million in annual orders and over $4 billion indirectly.  

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