MPB secures £50m funding as photography fans find used kit is picture perfect

The online business, based in Brighton, expects sales of over £100 million this year and has just raised £49.8 million to fund further expansion in the US and Europe where it already has hubs in Brooklyn and Berlin. Since starting the platform in 2011 founder and chief executive Matt Barker has always had his eye on making equipment accessible and relevant for as long as possible. 

MPB is now recirculating 300,000 items a year. “We’re transforming the sector, creating a model that offers everyone a destination. This gives them the chance to be visual storytellers and content creators in a way that extends the life of equipment, is good for the planet and does not cost the earth,” he explains.

“The biggest driver recently has been high grade content creation by video producers and bloggers with channels like YouTube and Instagram. The used kit market is also in a period of significant expansion as more consumers purchase sustainably in the circular economy.” 

Trust is the centrepiece of the digital operation which Barker, a photography enthusiast with an economics background, developed after trading on eBay. 

It was then he realised “there was a market in the category for a business that could guarantee the quality of its used products, a truly trusted partner.”

MPB’s offers, framed in clear, concise terms, enable gear sellers to  exchange or trade in for cash. Insured collection is covered by the platform. Product specialists check the kit and confirm the condition which then forms the basis of the final quote after which payment is quickly made. The business also works with third party repairers. 

Customers, some 250,000 of them, have a regular choice of 7,000 items, with lenses the most popular. Specially built software with an engine configuring prices based on model, condition and market “is one of our biggest successes, it’s seamless, fast and people know where they stand immediately,” says Barker.  

MPB employs 200 worldwide with 130 in the UK. The latest, fourth round funding led by Vitruvian Partners and Acton Capital, follows 50 per cent compound growth for the company since 2016.

The backing will go into new tech, more locations and offers. “Cameras can have an extraordinarily long life,” says Barker, whose own soft spot is for a Canon 5D Mark IV, a legend for its superb capture of detail.

·      Loving the wildlife and looking for kit beyond your smartphone that will better record the glories of nature this spring? No need to get overwhelmed by the tech and choices. MPB’s Matt Barker suggests the best way to get going for under £500 is a Canon EOS 7D plus a Canon EF 70-30mm lens.

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