Members of the public can buy a stake in Australian online retailer Booktopia.

The ecommerce business was once headed for an ASX listing but shelved the idea in 2016. It’s now looking to raise capital through a less conventional method.

Valued at $113.4 million, Booktopia is looking to raise $10 million through equity crowdfunding platform Equitise at $1 per share with 8.1 per cent of the business on offer.

It’s the first time Booktopia, which was launched in 2004, has opened up equity in its business to external investors and is part of its plans to accelerate scale and growth. The money will be used to expand automation, hold more stock and fund the liquidity of the business.

This is the largest-ever equity crowdfunded capital raise through Equitise, which went live in January this year after received its equity crowdfunding licence.

Founder of Equitise, Chris Gilbert said backing businesses like Booktopia  is one of the reasons he started the company four years ago.

“These businesses can use capital to grow when listing on the ASX, for whatever reason, is not an option. Equitise gives Booktopia and other businesses, from start-up to later stage, the opportunity to raise capital from an alternative source – a source that gives their customers, friends, family and sophisticated investors the opportunity to come along for the ride,” Gilbert said.

The crowdfunding play is a natural evolution for Booktopia – founder and CEO Tony Nash says its customers have been funding Booktopia’s expansion since the very beginning when the company budget was $10 a day and it took three days to sell its first book.

“We have always said that our customers have been our investors because they bought books from us and we used those funds to re-invest in the business to grow further. It is exciting we can offer our customers the opportunity to actually own a piece of our future,” Nash said.

Over the last ten years, the Booktopia Group’s revenue has grown at a CAGR of 31.9 per cent per year from $9.4 million in FY2009 to  $113.9 million in revenue for FY2018 – up from $99.8 million in the previous year.

The Booktopia Group sells one item approximately every 6.1 seconds and shipped over 4.7 million items in the 12 months to 30th June 2018, with over 1.8 million repeat customers.

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