Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mrs. Richardson regarding her start-up “Stores.Miscake.com”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Miscake Stores” is all about?
Miscake Stores is a service for creating online stores. It is designed both for small merchants and big resellers. The main goal of our service is to provide easy to use, friendly, but powerful hosted solution for people who do not want to be bothered with IT issues. With Miscake Stores you can easily export and import your products, change storefront design, translate your store into different languages, use all major payment methods, track orders, host pictures and static files for free and a lot more! Unlike traditional dedicated servers, our system will not behave slow when many customers visit your site at the same time or while updating a very large amount of products.
2. When has “Miscake Stores” been founded? And what stage is “Miscake Stores” currently at?
Miscake, Inc was founded in april 2010. We have already released several versions of Miscake Stores service. Now our startup’s stage is “post-release improvements”. In other words, Miscake Stores is already fully functional service, but we are working on performance optimizing and adding new features.
3. What is “Miscake Stores” business model and how does it work?
We use subscription business model, e.g. we provide subscription based service for building e-commerce website. In fact, the customer pays small fixed fee + fee depending on amount of the products. All new released features as well as support help are free of charge. As you can see it is quite transparent scheme for our customers.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
The core of our team is childhood friends, that is why we are very solid in our decision making. Currently, we allocated our roles and responsibilities as follows: business-related questions, programming and PR. Also we are trying to gather in our team creative and enthusiastic people, who are not afraid to start something from scratch.
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?
Miscake Stores service is the best choice for business-focused people, because in order to build an online store you only need basic computer skills. You do not have to worry about hosting and mail services. We also provide you with design templates, so that you will not have to hire web-designer.
Moreover, in order to achieve higher performance we use cutting-edge technology – cloud computing, which is becoming now a trend solution for different businesses. Usually you buy a server (virtual or not) or part of the server resources, but we propose you to buy a service in distributed environment, which means that resources for your business are allocated on demand.
Also we believe that communicating with support (instead of reading a lot of documentation) saves your time, that is why our support is free.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Miscake Stores” achieved so far?
We have been developing our service for two years, from 2010 till nowadays. And currently Miscake Stores is a fully functional service. Now we are adding new features and improving existing ones even more. We already have several customers with running stores, which is our most big achievement so far.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Miscake Stores”’s competitive advantage over them?
Our most known competitors are Volusion and Shopify.
Our most outstanding advantages are functionality and scalability. Some of our features are already more flexible than competitors’ ones.
We also use scalable cloud infrastructure, which allows us to handle extemely high load without loss of performance. Generally speaking, we are the first cloud-based e-commerce solution.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Cloud computing is rather new technology, therefore it was difficult to deal with it. More than whole year we spent to build only the core of Miscake Stores service – it was very long trial and error process. We didn’t have clear answers to arising problems, only experience led to right solution.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
There are a lot of key things, especially when dealing with cloud computing, that are unfamiliar to people, who are not programmers or IT specialists.
Apart from technical details nothing is difficult to understand. Miscake Stores was designed to be very easy-to-use to anyone. Besides, friendly support ream is always ready to help.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
There is a great demand for the e-commerce services. Not only big resellers, but even common people may want to open online store (for example, to sell handmade goods, etc). Moreover, there is big tendency to buy online, cause its faster and cheaper. That is why, we believe, people need our service.
11. If “Miscake Stores” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We have already started to develop other projects under Miscake, Inc. brand, which will be available soon.
Miscake Stores is just one of our numerous ideas. We are going to develop a range of different small business services, cause we seek to help people to be more broad-minded by offering our brand-new solutions.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Miscake Stores” based on?
We had previous experience of working in e-commerce area. And we were bored to see people being forced to use specific software solutions only because of the lack of alternatives. People quickly get used to thinking that there is the only one way how things should be. That is why we decided to make Miscake Stores.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We have learned a bunch of new technologies like cloud computing and scalable application development. But we’ve also learned how to communicate with people – our colleagues or customers, because it is very important. Without communicating skills we couldn’t be able to develop big project together.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Six months from now our biggest problem will be advertisement and new customers search.
15. What’s the benefit for the user?
The user of our service have transparent and flexible pricing model, lots of free of charge features, free support and the possibility to participate in open dialog with our development team. Moreover, there are no item amount limitations and there is no performance slowdown on high load. Our system is able to handle as many requests as needed for custorer’s business.
16. How did customers and/or users find out about you?
Through facebook, twitter and startup sites.
17. Who are your current users? Who are your target users?
Currently, we have few small merchants and one big reseller. As for our target users – it can be anyone, who want to sell some goods (or services). Everybody is welcome to use Miscake Stores service!
18. Where do new users come from and what makes new users try you?
The users of Miscake Stores service come from different sources: social sites, google search, review sites, startup sites. We have unlimited-time free trial (every feature is available, but billing is disabled), flexible and easy-to-understand pricing plan, and easy-to-use interface, which attract people the most.
19. What do your users say about your product and/or service?
Our current users are very satisfied with our service, because we are trying to be always in touch with them. One of the most appreciated feature of Miscake Stores service is very easy-to-use product upload system, which can upload differently formated data-files. Customers love it a lot.
20. How are you going to scale?
We are going to advertise our service to get more clients.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers keep asking for?
We do not have any big missing features now. But if our customers need something, we will implement it.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Miscake Stores service is available all over the world, but we support only US dollars currency now. But we are working on bringing other currencies support right now.
For your own stores you can add any language you need providing your own translation. And you can translate everything, including products and categories names.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
As the e-commerce market continues to grow up we have all chances to become a huge company with affiliates all over the world.
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?
No, we aren’t looking to hire new workforce now.
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?
Our business is self-sustainable.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Work hard and be creative!