AN ONLINE marketplace run from Poole has its sights set on becoming a business “unicorn” after announcing 605 per cent growth in the year to date.

OnBuy was set up as an alternative to sites such as Amazon Marketplace and is valued at an estimated £180million, or 240m US dollars, after four years.

It is aiming to be declared a unicorn – a privately held start-up worth more than a billion US dollars – within two years.

Founder and chief executive Cas Paton was named Founder of the Year 2020 by online publication Just Entrepreneurs this month.

He said: “Securing unicorn status is not an easy feat, but our success so far proves it’s well within our grasp. In January 2020, our business was valued at £6.5m (9m dollars), but by March, OnBuy was valued at £14m (18m dollars).

“More recently, OnBuy has been valued at over £180m (240m dollars), and so if we continue on this trajectory as we anticipate, the sky really is the limit.

“This year alone, we have seen sales on OnBuy soar from a run rate of £24m to over £170m. We’ve accomplished so much in the UK that I am entirely confident that unicorn status is within reach, especially as we are already under way with our global scale up that’ll take OnBuy into over 140 countries before year-end 2023.”

The company has tested websites for 42 other countries in the past 12 months, secured £5m of Series A funding and increased staff by more than 40 per cent to more than 60 people.

Mr Paton said: “We’ve grown quickly over the last four years, but 2020 has skyrocketed OnBuy’s expansion and we’re now growing at a phenomenal rate. We’re shaking up the status quo in the ecommerce industry with our fair, transparent and ethical model, and this year’s success demonstrates how strong the demand for a marketplace like OnBuy is.

“With 600-plus sellers onboarded each month this year, we’re on track to claim around five percent of the £84bn UK ecommerce market in the next three years. We’re aiming for one percent of the 3.46trillion dollar global ecommerce market in the next five years alongside that.”

OnBuy’s £5m investment earlier this year came from London-based venture capital firm Fuel Ventures and other investors, including Nathalie Gaveau, the co-founder of Priceminister, a French marketplace later acquired by Rakuten.