Liad Shababo is the founder of Shoply, a social shopping marketplace for small brands and local businesses. Prior to starting Shoply, he founded iStay.com, doof and MoneyGaming.com.
I recently caught up him as we spoke about his latest startup - Shoply.
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
Sure, I'm 34, born and bred in London. I've run internet companies for over 10 years. I founded MoneyGaming, a skill gaming network and doof.com, a social gaming platform. I'm now concentrating on social commerce and recently launched Shoply.com
You’re quite the serial entrepreneur, tell me how you got into business? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child?
My father and grandfather were entrepreneurs. They both started their own businesses and worked terribly hard to make them succeed. From a young age I would work with my father on weekends and school holidays and loved it. My father instilled in me a 'buck stops here' attitude and that hard work is the foundation of success. Internalising you alone are responsible for your livelihood and possibly that of others is incredibly empowering.
So tell me about Shoply and how the idea came about?
We felt for a long time that selling online was far too expensive and complicated. We could feel the pain small brands and local businesses were going through trying to get a shop up and running and their subsequent frustration being unable to drive traffic to them. We built Shoply to help them out.
What is Shoply and how does it work?
Shoply is a social shopping marketplace which brings together small brands and local business with customers looking to discover and buy from them. We make it quick and easy to open an online shop, generate traffic and make sales. We take away the technical pain and expense of selling online, remove marketing costs by providing free promotion tools and help grow sales by giving sellers access to the Shoply Marketplace, a vibrant sales channel.
For buyers, Shoply is a quick and social way of discovering awesome products from thousands of sellers worldwide.
What is your business model?
We charge 10% commission on sales made through the marketplace. We also offer a premium plan at $29.99 a month which gives sellers tons of additional benefits such as Featured Marketplace Status and advanced analytics.
What makes Shoply different from any service out there?
By providing small brands and local businesses a soup-to-nuts service encompassing software, marketing tools and a strong sales channel we provide them value far above what they can get elsewhere.
For buyers, making it quick and easy to shop thousands of small businesses in one place and wrapping the entire experience in a socially engaging and fun environment offers them a unique online shopping experience.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Assembling a motivated and passionate team and putting our customers at the heart of decisions we make.
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
For sure. Our product has changed considerably based on feedback received. We follow the classic build, measure, learn, customer development loop. Whilst our product has changed our mission of empowering small business has stayed the same.
How have you been able to fund the business?
We bootstrapped the business initially and funded it from personal savings. We recently closed our first funding round with investors from Europe and the US.
What can we be expecting from your company in 2012?
We're going to grow the number of businesses selling on Shoply considerably and broaden the kinds of products and services being sold. We will continue to innovate the social aspects of the marketplace and make the whole experience, simpler, more beautiful and more fun. We also have a few key partnerships in the pipeline which we will announce soon.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Don't get stuck in analysis paralysis. Have the courage of your convictions. Just do it.
2. Be a heat seeking missile. Seek constant feedback and use it to iterate and improve.
3. Don't do it for the money. Find something you're passionate about. Fix a problem which resonates with you.