Fast growing e-commerce platform Bigcommerce has announced that Chris Fry, former head of engineering at Twitter and Salesforce.com, has joined the company’s board of advisors. Fry will work closely with Bigcommerce product and development teams to accelerate the company’s roadmap and mission to deliver high-impact, scalable e-commerce capabilities to businesses around the world. At Twitter, Fry scaled the engineering team from 500 to 1000 engineers and led the team credited with killing the “fail whale”. Fry’s team greatly improved Twitter’s infrastructure – including the uptime and performance of core services – during a period of massive growth before, during and after the company’s IPO. During his seven-year tenure at Salesforce.com, Fry was responsible for all platform software development and played a key role in the development of Chatter during a time when Salesforce.com grew its customer base from 12,500 to more than 100,000 with more than three million individual users. Bigcommerce, which announced its latest round of funding two weeks ago, is investing heavily in product and engineering and is looking to aggressively grow its engineering teams in San Francisco, Austin and Sydney. “I see parallels in the growth that Salesforce.com experienced in the late 2000s to what Bigcommerce is seeing right now,” Fry says. “Bigcommerce is another example of a great, cloud-based software company that small and medium businesses can utilise to grow in ways that previously weren’t accessible to them. I look forward to working with the Bigcommerce engineering team to make this happen.” Bigcommerce co-founder and CEO Eddie Machaalani says Fry is a brilliant engineer with experience leading teams that developed revolutionary products that have changed the world. “As we double the size of our engineering team worldwide, Chris will be a phenomenal resource to help us continue executing at a high level and delivering a platform that enables merchants of all sizes to sell and compete effectively online,” he says. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australian startup Bigcommerce has signed a lucrative partnership with one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, Alibaba. The deal will provide Bigcommerce merchants with greater global access to products and services, and will result in Alibaba integrating its buyer and supplier network with Bigcommerce’s e-commerce platform. Alibaba services millions of buyers and suppliers from countries including China, India, the United States and Thailand. In a statement announcing the partnership, Bigcommerce co-founder and chief executive officer Eddie Machaalani says the deal will help the startup’s merchants grow their business “every step of the way – from sourcing to selling”. “Alibaba.com provides access to the world’s largest network of suppliers and manufacturers of goods that will help our merchants build their online presence and expand into new revenue opportunities,” he says. Bigcommerce merchants can now source products directly from manufacturers around the world, including the ability to find suppliers and receive quotes within 48 hours with the AliSourcePro service. Finding new and niche products will be easier for Bigcommerce merchants with the integration of Wholesale Checkout, Alibaba’s wholesale marketplace. They’ll also have one-click access from the Bigcommerce platform to Alibaba.com where they can find products, register and complete purchases. Bigcommerce merchants can now purchase goods directly from the world’s leading network of independently verified manufacturers. In addition, they’ll have access to Alibaba buyer services such as payment protection program Escrow and third party inspectors for quality control. Alibaba director of global marketing and business development Michael Lee says the company is partnering with Bigcommerce to make it easy for its customers to do business anywhere in the world. “Alibaba.com and Bigcommerce together are building an integrated e-commerce ecosystem and helping to introduce more small and medium-sized merchants and online stores to the global market.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australian e-commerce company Bigcommerce has confirmed reports eBay-owned Magento has named it as the software-as-a-service migration provider for its ProStores and Magento Go platforms, which will be discontinued on February 1, 2015. Magento and Bigcommerce have carefully coordinated the design of a migration program to ensure that ProStores and Go retailers can begin making plans to migrate their stores well before the critical holiday season. The eBay Enterprise senior vice president of product and strategy, Mark Lavelle, says the company chose Bigcommerce to help with the transition because of their shared commitment to client success and their proven track record of migrating large groups of merchants onto their platform. In a statement announcing the deal, eBay says Magento is a “natural choice” because of its client-centric culture, tight integration with PayPal and the ability for its clients to sell on eBay. “Magento is dedicated to helping fast-growing retailers succeed,” he says. “Throughout this transition period, we will fully support both ProStores and Go, and clients will receive the same level of customer service they’ve come to expect.” Bigcommerce has previously migrated more than 6000 ProStores retailers onto its platform and has migrated an additional 6000 stores from other platforms, which it says gives it the industry’s deepest expertise in terms of in-house professional services and tools to help clients successfully relaunch their stores. Bigcommerce chief executive officer Eddie Machalaani, one of the company’s two Australian co-founders, says the team is excited to work with the new merchants they’re acquiring in the deal. “We understand that the to-do list for small business owners is never-ending, and our teams are standing by to deliver the very best migration and onboarding experience so merchants can focus on growing their businesses,” he says.
Australian e-commerce company Bigcommerce has refused to confirm or deny a report that it has negotiated a deal to acquire the customers of eBay-owned competitor Magento’s Go service. Recently a source told Re/code that Magento was killing off Go, a platform which helps small businesses build an online store to sell their products and services, and the company had agreed a deal with Bigcommerce to move Magento’s Go customers to Bigcommerce’s service. It follows eBay cutting close to 50 jobs at Magento in March. Re/code sources say Go never gained traction against competitors like Bigcommerce and Shopify. StartupSmart contacted Bigcommerce, but the company refused to comment. Bigcommerce was founded in 2009 by Australians Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper and has offices in Sydney, San Francisco and Austin. More than 50,000 companies use Bigcommerce’s services to manage all aspects of their online stores, from web design, through to checkout and growth services. The company has raised $75 million to fuel its growth. Last month former Google executive Tim Schulz joined the company as senior vice president of product management.
Last month, Piper Alderman hosted angel investment group SA Angels for a special invitation only event featuring Stefan Kuentz of Swisscom Ventures and Shane Cheek from Acumen Ventures. Kuentz and Cheek gave an update of the venture and investment market from a Swiss/global and the Australian/south-east Asian perspective. The event was well attended by a group of key players in the Adelaide commercialisation and investment community. Stefan Kuentz’s presentation started with an outline of the reasons why Switzerland had to focus on innovation and looked at Swisscom’s commercial rationale for establishing Swisscom ventures. He touched on the types of industries that Swisscom Ventures will be interested in for 2014: network optimisation, security and identity management, CRM, internet of things and related clusters such as e-health. He also engaged in some lively discussion with the audience of his personal experiences and war stories about the investments that Swisscom Ventures had made. Drawing on his years in Silicon Valley, Kuentz said that it was very important for companies to have some experience there: “For companies who truly wish to be global, I would strongly recommend that they have some exposure to the Silicon Valley. For example, all the major telco companies have a presence there, and are all located within a short distance from each other. The VCs are also just around the corner, and all of the ingredients for a vibrant market place are located in one place. It really is like a market place for innovation.” “We were very lucky to have someone of Stefan’s experience come to share his knowledge and experience with us,” Michael Dilettoso, chair of the SA Angels said of the event. “It was also great to see the event supported by many members of the Adelaide angel investment community, some of whom have already made a number of investments not just in Adelaide-based companies, but Silicon Valley based investments as well.” Shane Cheek from Acumen Ventures gave some valuable insights and data from the VC industry in Australia and SE Asia. Cheek is currently aiming to close out his $30m fund focusing on enterprise, B2B and e-commerce ventures in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. “The Australian technology sector has reached an amazing inflection point, driven by a wave of successful companies such as Atlassian, Freelancer and Bigcommerce, and a new generation of startups that take an aggressive approach to regional growth,” Cheek said. “They recognise they are a part of south-east Asia with a population approaching 650 million, an insatiable appetite for all things digital and annual GDP growth of 8%. The next generation of category defining companies will emerge from this region and Acumen Ventures is excited to be funding them.” It is the comment on “market place” that resonates strongly for supporters of Adelaide’s startup and innovation ecosystem. The Adelaide market has been aware that in order for innovation to flourish in the city, all of the various parts of the community need to exist. We already have a vibrant start-up community supported by a number of co-working spaces and accelerator programs. We also have some active angel investors, early stage VCs, as well as experienced advisors, all within close proximity of each other. It will be great to see Adelaide mature into that crucial “market” concept. Dilettoso said the event was a great success and one that could be repeated again soon. “The event was a success, as it gave an opportunity for the investment community to engage with each other and swap notes on what has been happening over the last few months. It is certainly something the SA Angels will try to organise again,” Dilettoso said.
We might be uncertain whether the big motor manufacturers will stick around in Australia, but that doesn’t mean the whole automotive industry is screwed. When it comes to online shops selling automotive accessories, business is brisk. Figures released yesterday by e-commerce solutions company Bigcommerce shows a boom in automotive businesses using the platform. There are 26% more Bigcommerce-powered stores selling automotive and autocross goods this year than last, and their average revenues have almost doubled since last year, from $12,000 to $22,000. It’s not just tiny businesses enjoying the boom. Companies like Tyres4U, which is the online arm of the company’s largest tyre wholesaler Tyreright, have been charging into the online space. As Tyreright CTO Dominic Byrne recently told SmartCompany, it’s become a necessity. “Members of the auto industry are very big laggards when it comes to adopting new technology,” he said. “When it comes to moving into the digital world, the CEO of the company would probably even classify himself as a little bit of a dinosaur. But he knows we have to be in the digital space and have to be there quickly, or we’ll lose market share.” Wolf4x4, started two years ago by 28-year-old Ashley Gibbons, sells nothing but 4-wheel drive accessories. And while he sells 10% of his goods at trade shows, 90% of his business comes from his website. His sales are up 63% on 2012. Another entrepreneur capitalising on what online can do for his business is Matt Finn, who started selling protective gear and accessories for motorbikes through his business after his brother was involved in a motorcycle accident. His brother recovered, but when Finn realised his brother simply hadn’t been able to afford the expensive prices of protective gear, he saw a market opportunity, and started Finn Moto. He originally had a store on eBay, but switched to Bigcommerce last year after eBay made results no longer country-specific, meaning his store was lost among the thousands of international retailers selling such goods. His sales are up 70% this year, pushing him past a turnover of $200,000. Which isn’t bad considering his shop is essentially a one-man operation. “I design motorcycle clothing, work direct with the manufacturers, and then sell direct to the consumer,” he explains to SmartCompany. He tells SmartCompany that when it comes to automotive accessories, people generally know what they want, and just want to get it as quickly as possible. This could explain why the category works well online. “From my experience, when I go into a shop, the goods are overpriced and they rarely have the stock I need. Of course, they say they’ll order it in. But customers rightly ask why they can’t do that themselves. “The majority of bike riders are switched on. They know what they want, and they don’t need recommendations. And they can see the price differences.” Finn considered opening a brick-and-mortar store when he started his business in 2004, but decided against it. “If I was to go away while running a shop, I’d need to bring someone else gone. That and other things would increase my overheads, and I’d have to pass that onto the customer. My best value guarantee would then go out the window. “This gives me a good combination of work and lifestyle, and helps me put more time into designing the products and expanding the range.” This story first appeared on SmartCompany.
Kapcher, an online community marketplace for photographers and videographers launched just over two weeks ago, is in the running to take out top honours in the eCommerce category of the Global Startup Battle. The Global Startup Battle is an international start-up competition of Startup Weekend graduates. Currently, start-ups are vying for popular votes to make it into the top 15 start-ups, which will then be assessed by a judging panel with the top three accessing prizes. The eCommerce category is led by the founders of BigCommerce, and the overall winner will be able to be mentored by their team in the US for a month. Kapcher founder and chief executive Thai Huynh pitched the idea at the recent Sydney Startup Weekend after realising he wanted to get involved in the start-up community. “I realised that my start-up dreams required action. If I wanted to get into that world I needed to get involved. I went to the weekend in order to learn and network, but we got into the second round, and suddenly I had a team and we decided to go for it,” Huynh says. Huynh is currently recruiting developers to build a minimum viable version of the outsourcing platform which he plans to launch within three months. He adds a challenge will be differentiating between Freelancer.com and oDesk, which include photography offerings. The platform will include the functionality for photographers to showcase their portfolio. “The main difference is these platforms don’t focus on photographers and videographers. We want to focus on a niche market,” Huynh says, adding the idea for the platform emerged from his own struggles to use the larger platforms effectively for his own photography practice. Kapcher will trial a transaction fee as their primary revenue source when they launch. They’re currently recruiting the talent side of the marketplace, as Hunyh says getting this part right is critical to their chances of success in a crowded marketplace. “Our strategy right now is to get in touch with as many photographers as possible as better suppliers are key to our success,” Hunyh says. “My first step is to reach the small to medium businesses and these are the ones with needs and a little bit of money. They need corporate shots and introductory visits but they’re not ready to fork out thousands.” There are already two customers using the assembled freelance photographers. He adds they’re not counting on a win to make the start-up work. “Our main purpose is to use the competition as leverage, to get ourselves out there and to test the idea and see how far we can go with it. Our goal right now is to get beta users signed up and to start contacting businesses to get our first users,” Huynh says.
An estimated 20,000 aspiring start-up founders will take part in a Global Startup Battle in mid-November as part of Global Entrepreneurs Week, coordinated by entrepreneur training and education network Up Global. The battle is made up of Startup Weekends all over the world. Attendees will pitch ideas and form teams around the most popular ones to create start-ups by the end of a weekend. The team behind Australian ecommerce start-up Bigcommerce will lead the judging panel for the ecommerce focused component, known as a Circle, of the Global Startup Battle. Founded in 2009, Bigcommerce is an online store platform, with teams in Sydney and Texas. The winners will receive a mentoring and month-long internship at Bigcommerce (including $1500 per team member for up to four towards travel costs to Austin, US), their own online store and tickets to leading start-up conference South by SouthWest Interactive in Austin. Kirsten Knipp, the vice president of marketing, product marketing and brand at Bigcommerce, told StartupSmart from Austin that they wanted to encourage entrepreneurialism beyond just tech and software. “We’re most excited to see what they come up with. Startup Weekends typically tend to spawn technology or software companies, but we’re really hoping to encourage other kinds of ideas as well because entrepreneurship is not limited to technology,” she says. She adds the team is already excited about having a young start-up team join them for a month. “Getting to sit side by side gives us a chance to share our best practices, and we want that winner to go home and share those with the world. Whoever ends up being that winner will have a platform to make a big difference,” Knipp says. Bigcommerce now hosts over 40,000 stores. In a statement, Up Global chairman and chief executive Steve Case said the ecommerce focus space is increasingly accessible and attractive to start-ups. "As access to the $250 billion global online marketplace for retailers and merchants is increasingly democratised, ecommerce provides a compelling opportunity for young start-ups to go toe-to-toe with giants in their space,” Case said.
Internet retail sales conducted by smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have increased by as much as 400% and it’s critical that merchants refocus their efforts accordingly. Australia's online retail spending totalled $14.2 billion for the 12 months ending August 2013. This level is equivalent to around 6.3% of Australia's traditional bricks-and-mortar retail sector. What’s more, because of the increased use of social media on smartphones and social media’s involvement in retail sales, “social selling” has become red hot. Anyone hoping to improve their online sales success must take advantage of emerging trends like data-driven selling, personalised marketing efforts and specific product recommendations based on a buyer’s past shopping history. Here are seven quick tips for Internet sales success: 1. Make sure your store is ready for the mobile revolution Mobile usage accounts for more than 50% of your visitors. A recent report by marketing website optimisation company Monetate found the average order value purchased via iPhone was $97.49 and the average order via Android was $97.16. Your store has to be prepared for that type of mobile transactional traffic, so creating a mobile-friendly version of your site is a no-brainer. 2. Optimise your mobile site for SEO It’s now just as important to optimise your mobile store for SEO as it is your normal online store as half of your traffic is coming from mobile devices. Be sure to add unique titles, tags and descriptions. 3. Offer local pick-up Research by CBRE shows when given the option, 41% of Aussie shoppers would prefer to pick up their products locally. What’s more, 27% of in-store pickup shoppers make additional purchases. If you don’t have a physical storefront, offer pick-up at farmers’ markets, craft fairs and other similar locations. 4. Enable “geo-focused” SEO Another way to cash in on consumers’ need for instant gratification and their desire to shop locally is by adding terms and tags to show up in geo-based search results. You should also get listed in location-based price comparison apps like Milo, RedLaser, Shopkick and others. 5. Add real-time product reviews Customer reviews translate to an 18% increase in sales. It’s important, though, to tell both sides of the story. Shoppers who read bad reviews convert 67% more than those who use sites with only positive reviews. Start proactively gathering reviews and set up an email campaign asking buyers to review products. 6. Add product videos By some reports, a video makes a front-page Google result 53 times more likely. Consumers are 64-85% more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. Use pre-produced videos or make your own and add them right to your product pages. 7. Improve your checkout process You can attract more customers and close more sales by simplifying checkout and adding payment. Offering a single-page checkout can boost conversion by up to 21% according to ABtests.com. Provide as many payment options as you can and gateways for credit cards like Google Checkout and PayPal. Finally, increase your average cart value by showing complementary or similar products as an add-on option at checkout. Take a snapshot of your store’s basic analytics today: sales, traffic, etc. Implement the changes I’ve suggested, then compare your snapshot to your numbers three months from now to measure your improvement to determine which suggestions really work for your business and which you may have to tweak for better results. Eddie Machaalani is the co-founder and co-CEO of Bigcommerce, the world's fastest-growing software as a service e-commerce platform that helps power over 30,000 small businesses to sell online.
Online retail sales growth in Australia eased in May following a boost the previous month, but is expected to continue to outpace sales growth at traditional bricks-and-mortar stores for up to another 18 months. The National Australia Bank’s latest online retail sales index found sales growth in May grew 18% compared with May last year, down from 24% year-on-year growth in April. “Despite an easing in the growth rate, it remains stronger than the comparatively soft trends across February and March,” the bank says in a statement. The statement says sales in bricks-and-mortar stores grew by 3.2% in April compared with the previous April on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Internet sales made up 6.1% of total retail sales in the year to April, excluding cafes, restaurants and takeaway food, with Australians spending around $13.7 billion with online retailers in the year to May. NAB Senior economist Gerard Burg told StartupSmart the growth rate of online sales was likely to continue to outpace traditional stores over the next 12-18 months. He says department and variety stores claimed a large share of online sales as they embraced the internet and multi-channel retailing. Large retailers such as David Jones and Harvey Norman have in the past complained about internet shopping eating into their sales but have since created their own online offerings. Fashion, homewares and electrical appliances were the most popular items sold on the internet, with around 72% of sales made domestically. Paul Greenberg, chief executive of the National Online Retailers Association, told StartupSmart he expects the distinction between online and bricks-and-mortar retail will become less with time. “Where the real growth is coming is where retailers provide multiple points of purchase,” he says, noting that daily deals website OzSale had held warehouse sales and opened pop-up stores in shopping centres. Eddie Machaalani, chief executive and co-founder of online store builder Bigcommerce, told StartupSmart he can’t see online sales growth slowing down for at least four to five years. “There are a lot of industries that are still not online,” he says, “or worked out how to go online.”
This year’s BRW Young Rich List may be striking due to the dip in overall wealth of the top 100, including a $700 million plummet by mining mogul Nathan Tinker, but there are encouraging signs for start-ups.
Early Twitter investor Mike Maples has joined US venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners in backing Sydney-based tech start-up Bigcommerce, which has secured $20 million in funding.
With Australian venture capitalists unwilling, or unable, to back new ventures, Aussie start-ups are increasingly heading to the departure lounge in an attempt to secure funding.
eCommerce platform BigCommerce has launched a $2 million integration fund for start-up developers around the world, with each successful entry set to receive up to $20,000.
In July last year I almost had a revolt on my hands. I had just told my staff that we were going to launch a sister publication to SmartCompany on September 1.