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ZIIBRA co-founders Omri Mor and Justin Myers.

Competing in e-commerce can be a challenge for small businesses. Many turn to third parties like Shopify or BigCartel, but those services can reduce customer retention and make it difficult to track data.

Seattle-based ZIIBRA is working on a new option for smaller retailers. The startup, which originally offered an online marketplace for makers, recently pivoted to a full service e-commerce platform for business owners.

“We believe that selling and marketing should be simple, beautiful and accessible for everyone — not just large companies with design and engineering teams,” said ZIIBRA CEO Omri Mor. “Our goal is to help online retailers identify potential customers, retain loyal ones and understand how to speak to them in a personal way — so they can make more money.”

ZiibraLogoZIIBRA supports web hosting, secure payments, shipping, marketing, and reporting so businesses can sell their products online and engage with customers. Its product is expected to launch early next year.

Mor and his team are working in Techstars Seattle’s current cohort. We caught up with him for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “ZIIBRA helps online retailers convert site visitors into loyal customers and make more money by delivering customer intimacy at scale.”

Inspiration hit us when: “We saw that growing online retailers were spending too much time and money on getting people to their site, but not enough on figuring out what makes visitors become customers. And from our experience working in online retail marketing we knew that activation and retention is where the big money is spent. With that gap present we chose to build our product.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Angel — we had the opportunity to team up with successful entrepreneurs and trusted investors who supported our vision and growth.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Online retailers are stuck because their web, e-commerce and messaging data is stored across separate spaces. We connect this data, and that’s what makes their experience great. Online retailers can now see how visitors spend time on their site and send automated personalized messages to the right people at the right time based on their behavior.”

Omri_Mor_CEO_ZIIBRA
ZIIBRA CEO Omri Mor.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Listen to our customers — it’s the most important thing you can do. A lot of time can be spent worrying about what your competition is doing, but if you listen to your customers you’ll know exactly where to take your product next.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We didn’t listen to our customers early on, and were not building the right feature set. This is the worst thing one can do!”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Zuckerberg. He’s contributing the most to the future of engineering, user experience and how we impact one another. Plus, he has plenty of cool toys we could play with (VR and drones).”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Happy Hour at Manolin in Wallingford.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Culture fit, desire to learn and the ‘hustle’ gene. For us, a fit in culture matters more than a particular skill set — teamwork hits level 3,000 when great communication and a sense of autonomy is present. That’s what our culture is about.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Make the first leap, that’s the only thing stopping you.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the 11 startups participating in the Techstars Seattle incubator in the lead up to the Demo Day pitch event on Oct. 27. Techstars applications for its next class are now open.

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