We talked to Mangesh Panditrao of Shoptimize about the only one-stop D2C eCommerce platform, and he had the following to say:-
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Shoptimize.
Mangesh Panditrao: I am the co-founder and CEO of Shoptimize. I have a total of 21 years of experience in India and the United States with extensive knowledge of technology and its role in business. I was educated at Purdue University in the United States and spent seven years in the US in several consulting roles. I began my professional career as a software engineer at Infosys. I subsequently took up roles at Stanley Technologies, JDA Software Group and Exact Software, assuming roles related to supply chain management and the implementation of software solutions. In 2007, I founded my first company, Niyuj, targeting mid-market companies to implement enterprise software solutions. I handled new market expansion, pre-sales, sales, project management and IT strategy. The experience taught me what building and running a new business entailed, and I carried those lessons into my next venture, which was starting Shoptimize in 2012 to cater to the increasing number of Indians doing their shopping online. Shoptimize offers the only one-stop D2C e-commerce platform that leverages AI and analytics to help brands set up their online business and drive hyper-growth. We enable brands to grow their e-commerce sales across the full life cycle – from attracting, converting and retaining customers.
How does Shoptimize innovate?
Mangesh Panditrao: As a company, we strongly believe in technology and AI as enablers for growth, and we have invested in it deeply to build scalable and sustainable solutions for our customers. We are constantly experimenting, learning, and evolving. The attitude of win-or-learn that is strongly inculcated in our company has helped us grow to where we are today.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mangesh Panditrao: Our business has been relatively safe from the severe impact of COVID. While there was a slight dip in the early months (March-May), we were able to quickly bounce back as demand for D2C eCommerce solutions shot up. We added many new customers and our revenues doubled from pre to post COVID. Our existing customers saw a 200% growth in GMV post-COVID, as consumers shifted to buying online.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mangesh Panditrao: For us, the COVID-19 pandemic posed a unique challenge. There was a significant near term impact to the business as the Government in India enforced a strict lockdown where even online orders were not being shipped for over a month (except essentials like food and medicine). But we also knew that this was a long term opportunity as it would change shopping habits in favor of independent brands selling online. We had to start investing in our future growth when most companies were focused on safeguarding their current positions. The biggest lesson for me was that you need to make the most of it when you see an opportunity. But you should never lose sight of the long term direction that you need to follow.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Shoptimize in the future?
Mangesh Panditrao: I think it is very important to humanize the role of a founder. We are all susceptible to stress and anxiety. There were several times in our journey where I did not have visibility beyond a few weeks. During those times, what really helped was the strong support of my family and friends and a belief that things will work out. I cannot stress enough on the importance of exercise. The role of a CEO is that of a playing captain in a team sport. He needs to do well, but he cannot win it alone. That is how I project myself. As for the company, it will be a leading player in the D2C space globally. I have no doubt about it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mangesh Panditrao: Shoptimize is the only one-stop D2C e-commerce platform that leverages AI and analytics to help brands set up their online business and drive hyper-growth. Our competition comes from players who offer stand-alone solutions like eCommerce store platform (e.g., Shopify, Magento, Woo Commerce), or analytics (Mixpanel), digital marketing agencies. For our customers, our key value proposition is
1. End-to-end e-commerce solution from one vendor
2. Deep knowledge and experience of online consumer behavior based on hundreds of clients and millions of e-commerce transactions
3. Integrated store and analytics to automatically understand and drive conversions
4. AI/ML engine that surfaces actionable insights that uncover the right opportunities to drive revenue over a longer life of the customer
5. Robust platform that is scalable, flexible and easy to use.
Your final thoughts?
Mangesh Panditrao: Entrepreneurs can never prepare enough for what lies ahead. They need to be able to think on their feet and should be comfortable with uncertainty. This is something that I have had to learn the hard way. The path often changes, but the goal should always be steadfast, and you need a team that believes in the goal as much as you do. If not, the journey can be very draining.
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