Illustration by Ryan Melgar

sUnak Nirmal founded his first company before he got his driver’s license. He launched GPTShare, a market research company that offers cash incentives to users, at just 14 years old, and eventually made enough money to fund his education at Cornell University.

His leadership did not stop there. At the age of 21, Nirmal used his personal savings to found his first electronic brand, Flexion, which ended up selling over $7 million in cell phone accessories in its first year. Seven years later, he co-founded Acquco, one of the largest and fastest growing aggregators for businesses that sell on Amazon. In less than three years, he’s expanded his team to more than 250 people globally, purchased more than 40 e-commerce brands, increased their annual revenue by $400 million this year and raised more than $450 million in funding.

Nirmal, a first-generation American Sikh who spent the first several years of his life in India, spent his entire career living and breathing in the Amazon. In the past eight years, he’s worked on both ends of Amazon’s operations, from building several brands that sell on Amazon to working for the company as a project manager.

In early 2020, he leveraged his Amazon knowledge and experience with Acquco, which acquired small businesses and third parties that sell on Amazon, giving sellers a choice to either exit or expand their business under Acquco.

“Historically, these mums and pop sellers have never had the opportunity to break out of a brand they might make because that opportunity was really limited to only the biggest brands out there. If you own a third party brand on the Amazon platform, the only profit you will see is It really is the brand that runs the brand. “It’s very unlikely that you’ll actually be able to get out,” Nirmal said. “Providing this opportunity for these sellers has changed their lives.”

It was not without challenges. The pandemic has severely affected the shipping and retail business. Acquco has seen freight rates peak at pre-pandemic levels ten times and raw material costs 37% higher than the average of the subsequent seven years. These increased costs, combined with delays and disruptions in the supply chain, have created one of the most challenging operating environments for the e-commerce industry.

“No one foresaw the pandemic and the ongoing pressure this would cause in terms of supply chain costs, growing container shortages, impacts on delivery prices for goods into the United States, and a lack of storage space, driving up costs,” Nirmal said. “There are things you can’t really anticipate, even if you have the smartest people in the room. You have to keep being ready to learn, ready to adapt, and no matter how prepared you are, you look like you are.”

But despite the constant challenges in the market, Akco is doing better than well. On Prime Day this summer, Acquco achieved record sales with a 107% year-over-year increase, outpacing Amazon’s overall Prime Day performance nearly tenfold in the same period. Luxclub, an Acquco brand, sold $1.5 million in bed sheets alone on Prime Day this year.

Although Acquco is starting to acquire companies that sell on Amazon, Nirmal is expanding beyond the e-commerce giant to include competitors like Walmart, Target, and international markets. Next on his shopping list: the IPO.

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