It’s not an easy time to be in the e-commerce business. Tech titans, like Amazon and Walmart, are able to devote far more resources to their digital products than smaller companies have at their disposal.
That’s where Swym comes in. The Seattle startup has a platform that allows online retailers to provide features similar to Amazon’s shopping history or Expedia’s “Scratchpad” tool.
Using Swym, retailers can track shoppers behavior across multiple devices, allowing them to follow-up with customers the next time they visit the website. If for example, a shopper adds an item to her cart while browsing on mobile, the retailer can remind her next time she visits the site on her laptop. Swym’s technology works even if the shopper hasn’t logged into an account.
Watch the video below for an overview of how the product works.
“Consumer shopping journeys are becoming increasingly multi-device, and their expectations for what makes for a good shopping experience are constantly evolving,” said Swym CEO Arvind Krishnan. “It’s becoming clear that brands that don’t put digital convenience at the forefront will not stand much of a chance in the new landscape.”
Swym is a product of the TiE Silicon Valley incubator. The startup is a current member of the Techstars Seattle 2017 class.
We caught up with Krishnan for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Smartphones are changing the way we shop in very fundamental ways. Swym helps e-commerce brands engage better with their mobile shoppers by accurately mapping a shopper’s journey across devices, and using that context to deliver a truly personalized experience for them.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We were frustrated by the mobile shopping experience offered by most retailers – it seemed pretty ordinary and hardly personal. Meanwhile, services like Netflix, Spotify, and Flipboard were delivering a ‘wow’ experience by making it all about the user, and what the user cares about. When we first encountered the Expedia Scratchpad, we thought all e-commerce sites should have that assistance capability and our vision started to come together for how we bridge those two worlds of e-commerce and personalized assistance.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “It’s been an interesting journey — we were incubated at TiE Launchpad in Silicon Valley, raised some angel money subsequently, and are now part of Techstars Seattle. After a few failed experiments around the right path to scale, we’ve seen some incredible growth in the last eight months and are very excited about the road ahead.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Being able to map the shopper journey across devices and leveraging that to deliver a personalized experience for them.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “While the opportunity we are going after is broad and complex, it was important to focus initially on a specific segment and prove out our hypothesis. We made a bold call a few months ago to focus solely on the Shopify platform as our first stop, and that has worked out really well for us.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Trying to build a self-serve offering initially for a market segment that wasn’t quite ready for self-serve. A few initial false positives sent us down the wrong path early on, but thankfully we course corrected before it was too late.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “With a fair bit of Microsoft DNA in the team, there is always an inherent Gates bias, but we also feel his influence is already a part of who we are. And given our vertical and the focus on the customer experience, we’d hugely value having Jeff in our corner. Amazon’s been absolutely amazing at demonstrating how relentless customer focus can be a massively successful strategy, and we definitely look to them for inspiration in more ways than one.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “We love our weekend ‘hackathons’ – every couple of months, we vote on a fun feature/module we want to build together, camp out at some remote, exotic location to build it, and don’t get out until we are done. It’ll be more challenging to keep this going as the team grows, but it’s done wonders for team chemistry.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Three things actually – passion for making a big impact, a relentless focus on getting things done, and a strong culture fit with the team.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “You are going to hear “no,” a lot. Don’t let that faze you – you are on this path for a reason. Back yourself 100 percent, keep making forward progress, and the tide will eventually turn in your favor.
Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the companies in the Techstars Seattle 2017 accelerator as they prepare for their Demo Day April 19.