A Small Biz COO App: Five Questions for Shopventory’s Rares Saftoiu

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an official partnership with them, [we] were not making much progress getting their customers to adopt Shopventory.

We realized we don’t have enough traction and resources to compete in the low-end inventory management space and we decided to pivot—this is how the Thrive app was born. From our experience with Shopventory and talking to many retailers and merchants, we realized that even though they wanted help with inventory, they often wanted more from us—help in general with running their business.

We designed Thrive to be the COO in their pocket—we keep tabs on the numbers, profitability, and financial health of their business so they can focus on doing what they love. This also expanded our market from businesses that strictly needed inventory management to any small business.

X: How do you make money?

RS: We plan to use the data gathered about each business that is using Thrive to recommend appropriate services to them. Think mint.com, but for small business owners.

If they’re not sending out any emails, we recommend MailChimp or ConstantContact. If they’re not using anything for accounting, we recommend QuickBooks. If we notice they are paying a high percentage fee to their credit card processor, we recommend a better one. Any service provider targeting small business owners usually has substantial referral payouts since it’s such a hard market to crack. For example, a credit card processor will offer you a cut of every transaction for the lifetime of a user you refer to them.

X: Is your target market limited to Web-based merchants?

RS: Shopventory and Thrive are both designed for merchants that have brick and mortar locations. The only requirement is that they use a point-of-sale system that we support. We currently support Square, PayPal Here, Clover, and Shopify, and are adding more. It actually wouldn’t be much use right now if you were Web-only, since we don’t currently support any e-commerce platforms. But we are planning to start adding those very soon—for example, Bigcommerce and Magento.

X: Is Dave Carlson serving as CEO in Colorado until a full-time CEO can be recruited?

RS: Dave Carlson is really the CEO, and has been since the end of our Techstars program.

He works out of Denver, along with our VP of sales. Our engineering team is based primarily in San Diego, with Bach and myself here, as well as a third developer that is working remotely full-time (in Alaska). The plan is to continue to have a distributed team with offices in both Denver and San Diego. Bach is a San Diego native, and I’ve been here for about 11 years. Neither of us are planning to move anytime soon.

One of our goals when starting this company is to do it in San Diego, as neither of us wanted to move up to the Bay Area, as is the popular thing to do.

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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