Founder Features: Maximizing Retail Revenue with Melodie Van der Baan

Jul 28, 2023

Max Retail: Founder Melodie Van der Baan's Journey with Techstars LA Accelerator

Max Retail is a secure online marketplace that enables thousands of brands and independent retailers to sell their excess inventory through a market network of online and offline retailers. 

Melodie Van der Baan, co-founder and CEO of Max Retail, raised funds, expanded her network of advisors and mentors and is scaling her business after completing the 2022 Techstars Los Angeles Accelerator program.  

The Techstars network continues to offer invaluable business advice, support, and friendships that allow her to grow Max Retail and help thousands of businesses improve cash flow and keep inventory fresh. 

Unsold Inventory Sparks an Industry Idea

In 2012, Melodie Van der Baan, a longtime distributor and retailer, looked at her South Florida store’s sale rack packed with colorful dresses and frilly frocks that no one was buying, and came to a scary realization. 

“It was $100,000 worth of unsold inventory and financial losses that I was experiencing each year,” said Van der Baan, the co-founder and CEO of Max Retail. “When inventory doesn’t sell, cash flow is held up and that’s when a brand or retailer will go out of business.”

Van der Baan saw an opportunity to move similar unsold inventory between retailers and fill a massive network gap. That’s when she founded Max Retail, a secure online marketplace that enables thousands of brands and independent retailers to sell their excess inventory. 

Today, Van der Baan and her team of 30 have become a supplier of more than 3,000 brands. 

How Techstars Helps Founders Like Van der Baan

Van der Baan admits she has a wealth of experience in retail and distribution, but what she didn’t know is how to scale a business. She knew Techstars was the right accelerator program to help her grow her business, fundraise and build out a network of potential investors and mentors to usher her through the inevitable ups and downs of entrepreneurship. 

After applying four times, her persistence paid off, and she was accepted in the March 2022 Techstars Los Angeles accelerator. 

Van de Baan called the three-month accelerator experience a mashup of MBA camp, boot camp and summer camp. From day one, the curriculum focused on her core product, tactics, product market fit and segmenting down to identify the ideal customer persona. 

“They stripped away everything and what we thought was working to get down to the basics.”

Raising Capital for Startups like Max Retail

From day one, her goal was to raise a seed round. During every one of the 10-hour days in program, Van der Baan remained committed to that goal and ultimately raised a significant seed round. The angel investors she met shared her principles of honesty, integrity and accountability furthering her confidence in the Techstars network. 

Going through the program also set the tone for the Max Retail culture. 

“Bonding with your team matters because it’s not just the KPIs and goals, but how you create a team and build the DNA that allows you to move and work in the trenches with one another.”

A three-month program for a Lifetime of Support

Mentors have become advisors to Van der Baan as well as every member of the 30-person Max Retail team. Fellow founders are now friends. She describes Matt Kozlov, Techstars LA Accelerator managing director, as a “tremendous person.” She still reaches out to him for advice knowing he will continue to push her to be better. 

“There is just tremendous, lifelong value with being a part of the Techstars family.”

Hear from Melodie Van der Baan herself in our Founder Features Series and see how the Techstars Los Angeles accelerator program made an impact on Max Retail.

Looking to rapidly grow your business? Browse accelerator programs on our website.