23 March 2021
New ideas are generally a dime a dozen. In evaluating which ideas are worthy of time, energy and attention, it should answer a few “why?” questions:
Why this specific idea? Why now? And why should I (specifically) be working on this?
That is what I aim to answer about Cogsy in this article.
Importantly though I also aim to answer a question that is more specific to you: Why should you even care about this?
At the heart of this pursuit is a belief that one can always do better when the focus is on improving the right things at the right time.
Pursuing “better” is not a blunt instrument in that sense. Merely increasing the force or speed of your actions in building a business does not guarantee that you will get to a better place. Similarly, not all types of growth are considered good and some growth is considered cancerous.
Instead building a better business should focus on the holistic well-being of the business, its people and operations. It is a pursuit of sustainability and profitability, whilst always ensuring that the balance between input and output, risk and reward, compromise and alignment never gets out of hand.
Ecommerce businesses have benefited greatly as a global rising tide has seen all boats lifted up. Platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify and Bigcommerce have democratized ecommerce and build app and partner ecosystems to power all business functions. Consumers worldwide have shifted more of their spending from offline to online too, further creating rise to the opportunity for ecommerce brands to build great businesses.
In such a bull market, the predominant focus is on growth and a bit of a landgrab as more brands try to grab their share of the market. Often times this has meant trying to hyper-scale at warp speeds just to meet customer demand.
Casper though is probably a prime example of how the neglect of business fundamentals (seeing them lose $300 for every mattress sold) has seen its stock price underperform (and 12 months since listing it is still well below its initial offering price).
Some analysts have already started speculating that this trend is changing and that the landscape for DTC brands is changing.
And progressive entrepreneurs with new brands and businesses have been early adopters of that paradigm shift. Helena Hambrect, co-founder of Haus, does not mince her words in this regard when she simply says: “We don’t want to be like the previous era of startups.”
As the tides then change and we enter a new phase of opportunity and growth for ecommerce brands, we want Cogsy to be a progressive advocate and devoted enabler for the brands that want to maximise their pursuit of better.
Way back in 2007 (as I finishing my Accounting degree) when I built the first products that eventually spawned WooThemes (and later WooCommerce), my passion and goal was to build tools that would help - especially small to medium-sized - businesses grow. Initially, that meant enabling businesses to have beautiful websites and online stores for a fraction of the cost that they could before.
It was with WooCommerce that I cut my teeth in getting to know this very specific business that we were serving with our products: ecommerce brands. The jump I made eventually to found Conversio (now CM Commerce after our acquisition by Campaign Monitor) was thus a natural one.
Along the way, I’ve gotten to know incredible ecommerce brands, entrepreneurs and operators from whom I’ve learnt a lot.
I also got to apply much of that learning in real life, where I’ve supported my wife, Jeanne, in building her ecommerce business. Having skin in the game (both financially and romantically) has fueled a thirst for learning and finding solutions on how to build a better ecommerce business. In fact, the original idea that became Cogsy was inspired by the challenges Jeanne had in the inventory operations in her business. And years later when it came to executing on the idea, she was responsible for coming up with the name too. (She subsequently holds the title of Cogsy’s CIO: Chief Idea Originator.)
Starting this journey with Cogsy today then feels like the perfect marriage of so many historic events that have led here, as well as the exciting - albeit changing - opportunities that are ahead for ecommerce brands.
Borrowing from Jeff Bezos. This is Day 1. Tomorrow - as we pursue our own version of better - we’re excited to help others build better businesses themselves.