This week we are visiting Increasingly to learn about how they achieved their growth as a startups. We talked about AI Bundling, London versus Silicon Valley, risk appetite of investors, how okay it is to fail and more. Our guest is Sri Sharma -the CEO and the Co-Founder. Increasingly is not his first startup. After quitting his corporate job, he has founded two different startups.
His two previous businesses were in the digital marketing technology area and he exited successfully both of the businesses. Later on, he won a scholarship to learn machine learning and futuristic technology at Nasa Research Center in Silicon Valley. This was a great opportunity for him to help retailers grow their basket revenue and conversion rate by using machine learning. This experience influenced him and fueled the passion to learn more about it. He started exploring, testing and eventually deciding to build what is now ‘Increasingly’. Watch the video full documentary below for the full discussion and a quick office tour.
Startups of London - Episode 13
The growth of the business
Building a business is a teamwork and everyone in the team brings a different expertise. Sri started this journey with a co-founder who was focused on the product side. He also brought in two early employees to the company where they became the VP of Algorithms and CTO today. Sri brought his technical experience and network with retailers from his past businesses to the team. Instantly, they had a core team. They slowly built the technical team and relied on Sri’s sales abilities in the early days of the business. Later on, they hired a director of customer success and a couple of sales directors.
They have 40 people in the startup today and 60 clients in London and internationally. Some of their clients are very familiar to all of us such as Samsung, HP, LoveHoney, Travis Perkins and many more.
In London, they’re planning to build a team mainly focused on customer success, sales and marketing. In the future, they’ll have open roles for marketing manager, sales directors, partnership manager and customer success. It’s a great time to join Increasingly because they are at the point where they are transitioning from a startup to a scaleup.
Listen as a podcast: The full interview with Sri.
Value to customers
“Why don’t you get all of these items together, in one click?”
We are familiar with this line from online shopping websites, right? Creating these ‘bundled and served item lists’ are exactly what Increasingly is doing. There are two different customer segments for Increasingly. First one are their customers, the retailers. They use this technology to increase their revenue per customer.
Second segment are the end customers who are making the purchase. Increasingly also serves collections, looks, or bundles on the retailer’s website. This helps customers find everything they need. It’s a real value-add for the customers in terms of convenience, and a way for their clients to increase revenue.
Sri is clear in pointing out that this is not something they invented. They observed that Amazon is using this technology based on machine learning. What is unique about this is, (similar to what Algolia does), they are making Amazon level technology available for smaller e-commerce sites and retailers. Then, decided to take the concept and implement it for the retailers who are not already using it. Retailers are leave at least 10% of possible extra revenue on the table by not using AI bundling technology and Increasingly is there to help them take that 10% back.
Increasingly has completed only one seed round which was with a small VC and also received investment from friends and family. In total, they’ve received £400K year to date.
Today, they have reached profitability and have a good deal of incoming leads. Before doing another round, they’re aiming to grow their sales and technological capacity / capability.
Silicon Valley vs London as a Technology Hub
The biggest job of an entrepreneur is understanding the market. If you do that wrong, you can do everything else right but it won’t work in your favour. As Sri had a chance to explore both the Silicon Valley and London Startup Ecosystem, we wanted to ask him the difference between these two powerful tech hubs. What he says is “It’s about scale, self-belief and willingness to take risk.”
People in Silicon Valley would write really big checks but in London -also in Europe- investors have trepidation to do so. Another big difference is, individuals who have a big idea, they would really go for it and put everything on the line in Silicon Valley. They are willing to fail and it is fundamentally accepted to fail. Even though it’s started to change nowadays, there’s still a perception that failing is not (as) okay in London.
Key Lessons Learned
Let’s take a moment and think about this: “What are the things that you wish you had known before you start your journey as an entrepreneur?”
The first thing Sri mentioned is ‘The importance of seeing rapport as a different layer of communication to getting the work done.’ Getting the work done is very transactional. But rapport lives seperately and you’ve got to work to maintain it. Even when the transactioanl layer isn’t working, you can still feel backed up on something.
Another great learning is building self-belief. The daily effort to do high-quality living every day is underestimated. Even the little things such as reminding yourself about your vision, what makes you great and who you want to be, has an enormous effect on your positivity and self-belief. Start your day with daily affirmations and look for the change in your emotional state.
Tech tools to depend on
They’re using different technologies in different ways. One of the most frequently used application is Slack. It helps to centralise every message in one platform the communication not only within the team in London but also in India and Portugal.
Trello also helps them for designing new things for clients or improving current designs.
Also, Airtable is another useful tool to collect and store any sort of information formatting in many ways.
Future goals & milestones
There are financial milestones set for Increasingly. By the end of 2020, they want to have a certain amount of monthly recurring revenue (MRR). That will give them the opportunity to scale the business.
Another milestone is growing their team both in sales and technical (product improvement) because they have an ambitious goal to be good enough to developing the next products.
Last but not least, they are aiming to build a core platform where the product could be entirely systematized within a year. To sum up, the year ahead of us would be selling more, systemizing what they have and starting to work on the next products for Increasingly.
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Each week, we will be visiting a new startup office to meet with their team & founders. Stay tuned!