Unlike the online-only ecommerce companies, retail store owners find it difficult to attract customers through their website as their focus is more on their physical stores. Even smaller ecommerce firms find it a challenge to vie for customer attention in the midst of bigger, more established players.
Understanding the needs of such businesses, Chennai-based Pon Pandian and Sathish Kumar, and US-based Nash Ogden (60), started software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup TargetBay in 2016.
“We saw a real need to help online store owners with a simple solution to increase their sales. Only two out of 100 people who go to an ecommerce website make a purchase. We wanted to change this for ecommerce stores. Amazon has been successful in the ecommerce space for the last 25 years. We took a look at Amazon’s playbook and created a product for SMB ecommerce stores,” says TargetBay Co-founder Sathish Kumar, 34.
Bringing attention to smaller ecommerce firms
Online reviews can make or break a business in this internet economy. While biggies like Amazon attract reviews by the dozens, it not the same situation for SMB ecommerce players. TargetBay thus helps these small businesses collect reviews easily.
TargetBay targets ecommerce companies that are doing online sales of over $500,000 per year. “We wanted to understand the market so we personally called ecommerce companies in the first three months. We signed up a decent number using this approach. It was enlightening to talk to the owners of these companies and understand their problems. These conversations provided a lot of valuable information that we use till date to make product decisions,” explains Sathish.
The team also has created a personalised AI-based email system to send relevant emails to users to convert them into customers.
Apart from this, the platform has a smart product discovery engine for helping shoppers discover relevant products on the ecommerce website. It also provides simple actionable recommendations to its clients to act upon and increase their sales.
Talking about the USP, Co-founder Pon Pandian, 34, says,
“We solve an important problem in a simple way so that any ecommerce store can use our product. A one-person company can start using our product and see the value immediately. We are solving three different problems--lack of reviews, lack of organised and customised email system, and lack of product discovery--in one product. Our clients can therefore use TargetBay instead of using three different products.”
The founding story
Pon Pandian and Sathish went to the same school and are both engineering graduates from Anna University. Pon Pandian has an MBA from the University of Arizona and has worked as a software engineer and project manager at HP. Satish was a software engineer and project manager at Wipro.
Pon Pandian met Nash in Atlanta when he worked for Nash’s startup 10 years ago. Nash did his engineering degree at Dartmouth University and has MBA from the University of North Carolina.
On what propelled the idea for TargetBay, Pon Pandian says, “Sathish and I were part of another development agency called Innoppl. We were developing ecommerce websites and closely working with many ecommerce companies. These companies had one to 20 employees with tiny marketing budgets. That is when we came up with the idea of using Amazon’s playbook to create a product to help SMB online stores.”
TargetBay is a 29-member-strong startup today with the core team sitting in Chennai while the sales team operates out of Atlanta.
The startup has about 1,050 clients using its platform currently. Some examples would be Vanquest, Hanger Project, and DiversSupply.
“All of our clients are in the US and Europe. We are planning to expand to India too because the ecommerce space in India is growing fast,” says Sathish.
A successful SaaS model
According to reports, the global ecommerce market is pegged at $4 trillion with about three million ecommerce companies in the world. The industry grows at 15 percent every year.
Some of the other players offering similar services include Yotpo, Klaviyo, and Mailchimp.
“We are a SaaS company with a recurring pricing model. Pricing for most of our products start at $99/month.”
The founders claim that the firm is doing ARR of over $1 million at present and is growing at 14 percent every month. This bootstrapped startup’s goal is to hit $5 million ARR in the next two years.
“We are continuing to invest in AI and machine learning. We want to increase the value of products using machine learning. We are also starting a sales team in India to get clients here,” says Pon Pandian.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)