Where did the idea for Shopmatic come from?
My last corporate role was at PayPal where I was tasked to look after the merchant services portfolio and the PayPal franchise across Asia Pacific. That was when things got very interesting for me and my co-founders. We were engaging with customers from different markets, including emerging markets, and found that people did not have the tools and capability to take their businesses online. That’s how the idea for Shopmatic came about.
But prior to that, most of my experiences had been in emerging markets like India, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. That, along with our learnings from PayPal and understanding of ecommerce, made it clear that we needed to leverage our capabilities and provide solutions for people in those geographies.
What led you down the path of entrepreneurship?
There’s always been that itch in me to make a difference. I’m not saying that PayPal wasn’t making a difference, but I was making a difference under the cover and the umbrella of a larger enterprise.
In terms of age, I have a lot of gray hair right now, and making that jump was absolutely thought through in many ways. It was not impulsive, like we woke up one day and said, “Let’s go and do something.” We knew that there was a significant opportunity and that we wanted to build a sustainable business.
So while it was thought through, I would still say that you can never see all the elements that will come and hit you or make life interesting for you. But at the end of the day, the courage of our partners, the fact that we’re all working together for a common purpose, and having a brilliant team allow us to say that we’ve made the right call.
Where did you first launch Shopmatic?
We launched in India first. We felt that the biggest purpose would get us in a market like India, with the opportunities there and the fact that it is not an easy market.
I’m not saying any market is easy, but India is a lot harder than other markets, considering people’s access to or understanding of ecommerce, technology, data infrastructure, and things like that. Our approach was that if we were to get India right, then the rest of the markets would become a lot easier for us to work in.
So, we launched in India in January 2016, and then expanded to Singapore and Hong Kong about six months after.
How does Shopmatic differ from Shopify, Shopline, or the like?
I’ll try and tackle that on two different angles. One is from an overall value proposition standpoint. Our essence was clear: we want to provide the entire ecosystem for anyone wanting to sell online. That means right from creating storefronts to having a payment gateway, a logistics provider, shipping, and the ability to sell across multiple marketplaces (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Lazada, Zalora, Rakuten, or any other local marketplaces).
At a technology level, the way we approached it is to make sure that we had the entire ecosystem and we were hand-holding our customer through the entire process. For instance, if you sign up with Shopmatic and get assigned to Anurag, then he is your go-to guy for just about everything—from building your store to understanding SEO and how to use Google Adwords or Facebook Pixel. That’s how we round it off and bring the holistic solution to our customers.
How do you deal with the payment process?
To state it simply, we pre-integrate the payments engine on our platform. So typically, a merchant has to go to PayPal, get their API credentials, and bring them back onto the platform that they want to use. In our case, we take care of it for the merchants. What the sellers need to do is to have an account with the payment platform. We can transfer all the information that we’ve collected to PayPal or Citrus in India, and create an account on that front. Then, merchants will just have to follow the process.
Any expansion plans for 2018?
We’ll actually launch in UAE next month, and then in Indonesia and the Philippines before the end of the year. We want to be in 20 different countries in the next 24 months.
Any advice for someone making the jump from corporate to entrepreneurship?
One is I think there’s never a right time. If we always wait for the right time, it will never come because anything can happen in your life, and you’ll say, “OK, maybe let this pass, and I will think about it then.” It’s going to be too late, and the opportunity will be gone. And then you’re back to square one.
Believe in yourself and have the confidence that whatever it is, you’ll be able to see it through. You can make it happen. If you have a reasonably decent idea, have faith in yourself and just go for it. In large corporates, you always worry about where your next paycheck will come from. But if that’s the question in most people’s minds, then that’s where people would stay.
The second piece of advice is having the grit, persistence, and the belief that whatever comes your way will also pass. You will always get the curveballs anyway.
Moreover, if you can get a partner or partners, do it together because you will never be on top of the world every single day. You will feel down, depressed, and dejected. You will say, “What the hell did I do?” And you will need your business partners, people who would step in and say, “We’ll figure this out. We’ll take this forward.”
Lastly, if you don’t have a supportive family, it’s never going to work. Ideas, money, and all of that stuff shouldn’t be as much of an issue as with anyone living a corporate life if you really put your mind to what you want to do.
Source: Tech in Asia