14th Dec 2020

Whirli raises £4m Seed funding round

A sharing economy for children’s toys, Whirli helps UK families get better value for money, reduce clutter at home, and reduce landfill waste.

With Christmas just around the corner, we are delighted to announce our investment in Whirli, the toy sharing subscription service. Our friends at Octopus Ventures lead the £4m Seed funding round.

Whirli is a fully managed retail service for children's toys. Like other retailers, Whirli purchases toys directly from the most popular, leading toy manufacturers. However, Whirli subscribers borrow these toys instead of purchasing them. Any unloved or outgrown toys can be sent back to Whirli and swapped for something else. By borrowing, parents are getting far better value for money, reducing their environmental footprint, and their children are getting more varied play time and child development opportunities.

All toys are processed at Whirli’s own facilities and are fully cleaned and sterilised before being sent on to a new family to enjoy. The service is as convenient as it is to shop and return products to any eCommerce retailer.

Every year, millions of families across the UK spend a total of £5bn on children’s toys only to see them go unloved very quickly. These toys clutter up homes and the majority eventually end up in landfill. Research commissioned by Whirli in 2019 found that:

  • Parents spend around £300 per year on toys for their own children, yet on average around 60% of toys at home are unloved and not played with.
  • Over Christmas, around £135 is spent on toys per child. However, by the end of January one in four Christmas toys will already be neglected, equating to 32 million unloved Christmas toys across the UK.
  • Gender stereotyped presents were the most common gifts parents received but did not want for their children, followed by age-inappropriate gifts, gifts their children did not like, and gifts that duplicated what parents already had.
“Consumers wanting to shop sustainably should not have to compromise with higher prices or greater inconveniences. We’re really proud to be at the forefront of this technology-enabled disruption that is reshaping consumer behaviour and retail. Through the power of the sharing economy, Whirli has created a winning proposition for parents and for the planet, and we are delighted to welcome Octopus Ventures and MMC Ventures on our journey.” Nigel Phan, Founder at Whirli

The funding will support Whirli’s plans to expand their range of toys, as well as continuing to offer greater choice, control, flexibility and convenience, such as more delivery and return options. Whirli will continue to invest heavily in their proprietary technology, building on the existing technical infrastructure that is the world’s first and leading platform which facilitates a fully flexible sharing economy for parents.

Today is a significant step taking Whirli closer to their vision of being the go-to place for parents wanting to consume more sustainably and ethically without comprising on value for money, choice, convenience, and flexibility.

“Whirli enables parents to make more ethical and sustainable choices in a large market that has seen limited innovation to date. We have been impressed by Nigel and the Whirli team and we are looking forward to supporting them as MMC continues to invest in companies helping to create a more circular economy.” Dele Akinyemi, MMC

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