“ShopLocket” is an E-commerce platform that lets anyone start selling professionally online in minutes.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Kalmar’ regarding his start-up company “ShopLocket”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “ShopLocket” is all about?
ShopLocket is the easiest way to sell online. Rather than having to build out a full online storefront or get lost in a marketplace, sellers are able to quickly sell from anywhere that they already have an audience: their website, blog or social networks. Setup is easy.
Users just signup and are taken through a quick product creation wizard and are able to then share it around the web.
2. When has “ShopLocket” been founded? And what stage is “ShopLocket” currently at?
ShopLocket was officially started in late 2011.
ShopLocket first launched in closed beta on February 22, 2012 at Sproutup.
It then launched in open beta on April 25, 2012. After completing the Toronto tech accelerator Extreme Startups, ShopLocket closed its Seed round on August 1, 2012.
ShopLocket currently has five employees and is Located in Toronto.
3. What is “ShopLocket”’s business model and how does it work?
ShopLocket is completely risk-free for our sellers.
There’s no upfront cost or monthly fees. Once a product is sold, users are charge a 2.5% transaction fee on top of either PayPal or Stripe fees.
The fees are taken off automatically at the time of sale and the remaining money is sent to the seller.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Katherine Hague (CEO) and Andrew Louis (CTO) met while working on startup events around Toronto.
After working on small projects and events together, they realized that their skills complemented each other.
Once the idea came about for ShopLocket, they realized that it was a problem worth tackling and decided to pursue it.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Right now, when someone wants to sell a few items online, they traditionally take one of two approaches.
The first option is to build out a full online storefront, which is time consuming and expensive for one item.
The second option is to list in a marketplace, which is unprofessional and many people feel like their product gets lost in all the noise.
ShopLocket lets people sell online quickly and risk free in a social way.
They are able to take their products right to where their audience already is without the need to build out a full storefront.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “ShopLocket” achieved so far?
The initial response of ShopLocket has been great.
After only a few months, ShopLocket has over 7,000 sellers.
Products range from handmade items to digital goods like ebooks.
Some of our most popular sellers have been able to generate several thousand dollars in sales in only a few hours, exceeding even their own expectations.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “ShopLocket”’s competitive advantage over them?
We have competitors on a few different fronts.
Our advantage over full storefronts is the ability for people to be able to sell online quickly and test if what they’re selling is actually worth turning into a business.
From the marketplace standpoint, we believe that the idea of people selling with so many other people sounds good, but it leads to products getting lost amongst all the other sellers.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges starting out is having an unproven track record as founders.
Having two young founders doesn’t allow you to sit back and stand on your reputation.
At the same time, this is also an advantage.
You really have to prove yourself and make a name for yourself. This has been overcome through hard work and perseverance.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
There haven’t been enough innovations in the world of e-commerce.
Social media has changed the way we cultivate and share so many things: pictures, videos, news.
This change hasn’t come to e-commerce.
We really believe that this is about to change.
We’re going to see products in our social feeds just as natural as we see pictures and videos.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We believe that we’re going to succeed for two main reasons: 1) Because we really believe that we’re going to see a major change in e-commerce in the next few years 2) Because we’ve put together an awesome team to tackle this huge problem.
We really think that we’re in a great position to capitalize on this exciting trend and to change e-commerce.
11. If “ShopLocket” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We’re working toward making e-commerce more social and incredibly easy.
We’re trying to tear down the barriers for people to start selling online.
It’s difficult to say exactly what this is going to entail at this point, but it’s going to based on those two central premises.
Once we have a large user base and a trusted name, we’ll be able to do a lot in these areas.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “ShopLocket” based on?
Our founder Katherine Hague had some t-shirts that she wanted to sell for a small consulting business she was doing.
She realized that building out a full online storefront didn’t make sense for a single product and listing in a marketplace was too unprofessional.
It seemed like it was the easiest problem, having only one product to sell, but there didn’t seem to be a good solution to this problem. ShopLocket was born out of this need.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
The most important thing that we’ve learned is that it’s not just about solving a problem that you have, that’s only the starting point, you have to make sure you’re solving a problem that a lot of other people have.
You really need to put something out there and see how people use it and interact with it to see if what you’re building is actually providing value.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I think that we’ve made a lot of good traction in such a short amount of time, but the next challenge is going to taking it to the next level when it comes to user growth.
To do that, we’re going to have to really establish ourselves in key markets and make sure that we’re solving the problem in those markets.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
People use ShopLocket for a lot of different reasons.
Some people just want to test out what they’re selling and don’t want to build out a full storefront to do that.
They want to be able to test it in a very lean way and then expand to a bigger storefront option.
For some people, ShopLocket is all they ever need.
Some people just want to focus their time on one product at a time, like an author for example, and they don’t need a robust solution for that.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
We haven’t really done a lot of traditional forms of marketing.
It’s mostly been through press and word of mouth.
We’ve been fortunate to get some great press coverage in things like TechCrunch, The Next Web, Wired, PandoDaily, among others.
But other than that, it’s really been a lot of users having a great experience with it and telling their friends about it as a solution to their selling problems.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
We’ve got a lot of people selling different things using ShopLocket.
We’ve seen a lot of success with people selling handmade items, fashion bloggers selling clothing and authors selling ebooks (and physical books).
People can check out some of the products that are being sold on our Pinterest page (pinterest.com/shoplocket/products-i-love/).
As far as who our customers are going to be in the future, it’s tough to say exactly who is going to stand out.
There will certainly be certain categories that stand out, which we’re starting to see a bit, but it’s tough to say right now exactly who it will be.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Like I mentioned before, we get a lot of word of mouth referrals.
In terms of where geographically our traffic comes from, we see most of it come from the US and Canada.
Outside of that we’ve gotten a lot of interest from the UK, Japan and Australia.
A lot of new users want to try us out because they’ve heard how easy it is to get up and selling and they want to try it out for themselves and they’re blown away by how easy it is compared to other things that they’ve tried.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
People are usually amazed at how easy it is.
They’re used to trying other things that take hours to setup and are expensive and then they use our solution where they’re selling in minutes.
We also take customer service extremely seriously and people are very impressed with how quickly we respond and how willing we are to help.
It really goes hand-in-hand with our philosophy of making selling online incredibly easy.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’re going to scale by making our service inherently more social.
This is something that we’re actively working on and is always on the top of our minds.
We have people so eager to tell others about the great experience they’ve had using ShopLocket, but we need to give them a better way of doing that.
From there, each user that we get is going to bring us even more users.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
When we first launched, we didn’t want to spend years in development building something that we didn’t even know if people wanted.
As a result, the first product we launched was far from perfect.
But that allowed us to get something out there and really see feedback on what people need to help them sell better.
A big thing (that we’re going to be launching soon) is better shipping options.
Right now, we limited people to doing flat rate shipping, which some people obviously didn’t like.
That’s probably the biggest thing that we know that we need to improve on.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Right now, sellers can sell to any country that PayPal and Stripe will support (which is most countries).
From the seller’s standpoint, right now they can only sell in CDN, GBP, USD, EUR and JPY.
Going forward, we’re going to need to support more currencies and languages with our service. This is certainly an obtainable challenge.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We don’t really see a limit to the number of people that can be using our service because we really believe that we’re unlocking a new class of merchants.
We’re helping people who felt like there wasn’t an option for them to sell online before.
On top of that, we believe that we’re providing an opportunity to people who are already selling but are looking for a different way of doing it.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We’re always happy to talk to smart, talented people that want to solve a huge problem.
We’ve brought on two more people since our funding, Sumanth Ravipati — another developer, and Jaclyn Konzelmann as Director of Business Development.
We’re bring on a designer in a few months and we’ll probably hire another developer before the end of the year.
If people are interested, they can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We just closed our Seed round, but we’re always happy to talk to investors for the future. For that, they can talk to our CEO Katherine at email@example.com.
As for partnership deals, we’re always excited to find new ways to promote our brand and to help other people with their’s.
For partnership inquiries, people can talk to our Director of Business Development Jaclyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Our co-founder Katherine Hague likes to say that you should be building your network before you need it.
It’s important to make connections with awesome, talented people without requiring something from them.
That way, when you are looking for other people you already have real relationships that you can build off of.