The right data, in the right place, at the right time
&Facts gets smarter with ecommerce data, PLUS a new cybersecurity startup
We’re firmly back in B2B territory for today’s newsletter, with a look at a data platform targeting the burgeoning market of brands selling via the Shopify platform. Scroll down to read all about what &Facts has to offer.
That’s not all! In addition to full details about &Facts, our growing number of PreSeed Now paying members also get details of a new cybersecurity startup aiming to shake up the penetration testing market.
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&Facts wants to help brands sell smarter on Shopify
If you’re a big retailer who doesn’t use external market data to help guide what you sell and how you sell it, you probably won’t be a big retailer for long. Smaller sellers often don’t have the luxury of all those insights, so startups have emerged in recent times to address this imbalance.
We covered Ecom Pilot earlier this year, and another startup serving a slightly different market is Birmingham-based &Facts.
As founder Sohaib Ahmed puts it, &Facts is “a market insights platform that helps ecommerce brands understand what their customers want”. The product pulls in market data and collates it into an easy-to-use dashboard of consumer insights. What is selling? What is rising in popularity? What do search trends indicate?
The startup is focused on Shopify sellers in the highly competitive fashion, skincare, beauty, and healthcare verticals.
“We're pre-empting what ecommerce and consumer brands want to see. They want to see the level of growth in the market, they want to see new opportunities… What this means for an ecommerce brand is that they can go from zero to a fully fledged report or dashboard within a couple of minutes. It requires no setting up on their part.” says Ahmed.
“Rather than having data that's six months old, which might be the case for a market research report, the data here is as of a few days ago, or even yesterday. It's very live data so you can get a much better view of where that market is headed, and what's been happening over the last week, or month, or couple of months.”
As you’d probably expect, &Facts charges a monthly subscription. Given that it offers what can be very valuable data to serious sellers, Ahmed says the price starts at £200 per month, rising depending on the amount of data and data sources the customer requires.
Show me the data
At the time of writing, the live platform draws solely on Google search data, but Ahmed says other data sources are currently in testing. “We're working with the data providers and select brands to understand the value, how they should be integrated and what sort of insights they'd want to see.”
A key selling point here will be &Facts giving startups access to data they otherwise would have to pay through the nose for. If Ahmed’s startup has to pay for this access instead, doesn’t that create a significant risk until subscriber numbers are high enough?
“A lot of the datasets that we're using right now, are pay-per-use, driven by APIs, so that we only pay for them when we make a call. The larger datasets, we're certainly more cautious. But at the same time, what we are seeing is that there's a lot of demand. These are datasets that cost £50,000 to £200,000 pounds to acquire.
“A lot of brands want access to this data, but they're not able to pay. But they'll happily pay a couple of thousand pounds for data, especially when it's been analysed and has been put into a dashboard which they can quickly understand.”
Ahmed says he’s seeing a lot of demand for up-to-date data as the weakened economy hits consumers’ pockets. While data from organisations like the UK’s Office of National Statistics can be useful, it is far from real-time. So he sees an opportunity for &Facts, but he’s being careful about what data is integrated, and how.
The story so far
Ahmed has a background in banking and finance. He says he began to see the appeal of data products when working at Legal & General on its Smart Quote insurance technology. Moving on to other data projects within the company, he saw the value of data to businesses, and how small businesses are often priced out of such insights.
This was particularly apparent during the worst of the Covid pandemic, when brands often struggled to keep up with changing customer behaviour.
Ahmed says he developed a skincare data report as a market validation experiment. Based on positive feedback, he got to work on &Facts, which is his first startup. A solo founder, he’s currently joined by three employees who handle the technical and data science side of the business.
&Facts launched in closed beta around a year ago and Ahmed says 70 brands-–mainly Shopify sellers plus a few larger names–are now using it.
“One of the key learnings for us over the last six months has been that whilst more data is important, brands don't have a lot of time to sit down and go through tons of data. They want summaries, they want quick, actionable insights.
“That's what we found is the missing gap. A lot of tools right now give data, and then the brand will be going through it but they don't actually even necessarily understand ‘how do I link this to my business? What's the action that I need to take?’ And that's what we've been adding. We can say what products to promote now, what products to promote next quarter…
“That's been our focus over the last six months; how do we turn all this amazing data that we have into actionable insights?”
Competition, investment, and future plans
So who is &Facts up against?
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