itBeat.com Hopes VCs Can Name $30M Tune

Believing that there is, indeed, demand for yet another vertical b-to-b e-marketplace, itBeat.com is preparing a second round of venture funding set to coincide with a national site launch later this summer.

The Series B offering is designed to raise between $20 million to $30 million for the Northbrook, Ill.-based issuer, and will be shopped to both traditional venture capitalists and strategic investors.

ItBeat.com, which operates an Internet portal for office imaging and office technology buyers, was most recently in the private equity market earlier this month when it closed a $10 million Series A deal with Warburg Pincus.

The company’s venture history also includes a $1 million angel financing plus a $2 million capital infusion from company President and Chief Executive Mark Challenger.

“We currently have about a $25 million budget to go do our national launch,” Challenger said. “Included in that is a sizable chunk for direct marketing through letters and postcards that will go out to business buyers, as well as a vertically-focused magazine with [editorial] content generated by internal staff.”

The magazine seems to be an encouraging indicator of how itBeat.com plans to distance itself from the cornucopia of office equipment outlets that currently litter the Internet.

Rather than simply taking a transactional cut of the action while sellers autonomously market their products, itBeat.com will provide third-party analysis which will cover everything from product longevity to price comparisons.

“Our position is that the differentiator between us and a horizontal marketplace like BuyerZone.com is that our vertical focus allows us to do what we do in much greater depth while the others can only go skin-deep,” Challenger said.

In preparation for its national launch, itBeat.com is currently conducting a test run in Portland, Ore. It also is readying additional trial sites which are set to open up shop within the next couple of months.

Challenger said that the Portland location was chosen over the more local Chicago market because the former is more geographically insulated and, therefore, not nearly as prone to what he termed a “bleed off factor.”