Data to make anyone a smart seller
Ecom Pilot wants to democratise ecommerce
The great thing about running this newsletter is getting to meet founders at the earliest stages of their journey. Today’s founder has recently raised a pre-seed round and has an incredible story for a 21-year-old building his first tech startup.
As ever, PreSeed Now members get the full story, and I think this one is really worth reading in full. You’ll find out how he raised money from notable US investors despite being a young first-time founder in the North of England.
…Oh, and how to juggle two startups, a full-time job and a degree. There’s lots more in the full article too. If you’re a free subscriber, you can upgrade below.
Scroll down to read all about Ecom Pilot.
Meanwhile, it was good to see Octopus Ventures officially launch its £10m pre-seed fund for European B2B software, fintech, and healthtech startups. As the news went out around the same time as Thursday’s edition of the newsletter went out, I’ve only just been able to mention it now. From the sound of it, they’re already investing at a fair old clip.
This issue is supported by Manchester Angels. Read more about them in our 21 June issue.
Wise up, seller: Ecom Pilot wants to democratise ecommerce
An interesting trend in recent times has been startups working to help retailers compete with the juggernaut that is Amazon.
Often, these startups take the form of offerings like Byrd, which help sellers offer next-day delivery by taking care of logistics and warehousing. That’s a huge market in itself; Shopify recently acquired one such company, Deliverr, for $2.1 billion.
But another of Amazon’s unfair advantages (much to the chagrin of regulators everywhere) is the sheer amount of data it has about what’s selling well at any particular time.
Software engineer Jakub Lenski discovered how important this data could be when he got into dropshipping - selling items bought on platforms like AliExpress to consumers via Amazon. He discovered that this form of selling often involves going in blind, carefully testing with small amounts of stock to see what will sell.
After realising no-one was buying the things he wanted to sell, he took a more analytical approach, researching on Amazon and third-party websites to identify an untapped market.
He settled on small packs of lanyards for events, and says he was doing £20,000 in revenue in a year as a part-time seller, until the pandemic put the events industry on hold.
But having realised the importance of research to successful ecommerce, he spotted an opportunity. And thus Ecom Pilot was born.
Meet the pilot
Designed to help sellers figure out exactly what they should sell, Ecom Pilot tracks prices, stock levels, reviews, wish-lists, and other data about 300,000 products across suppliers and marketplaces like AliExpress and eBay. Users can search for a product and see how these metrics have changed over time, helping them identify a market to serve.
“On average, a dropshipper spends around $500 to test one product, when you factor in Shopify costs for creating the website, and some advertising costs,” says Lenski. “And on average, speaking to our users, they test five to six products before using Ecom Pilot in order to find one that's finally profitable.
“Our northstar metric is to decrease the amount of products they test. Even if we achieve that goal by decreasing the amount of products they test by one or two, we’re creating $500 or $1,000 worth of value for them, by saving them from testing those unvalidated products.”
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