How to get recurring revenue from your physical products

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If you’re in SaaS, you know that you get revenue on an ongoing basis, which is really nice.

But maybe you’ve been afraid to go into physical goods because you don’t get that kind of business model where you have a consistent set of revenue that comes in month after month. Well, joining me is a guest who said, “It doesn’t have to be that way. Physical products can be sold on subscription or recurring basis.”

Dileepan Siva is the founder of Upscribe. They enable Shopify stores to have recurring revenue. I invited him here to talk about how to do it.

Dileepan Siva

Dileepan Siva


Dileepan Siva is the founder of Upscribe, subscription software for fast-growing eCommerce brands.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixer G, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses. And if you’re in SAS software as a service, you know that you get revenue on an ongoing basis, which is really nice.

And maybe you’ve been afraid to go into physical goods because you don’t get that kind of business model where you have a consistent set of revenue that comes in month after. Well, joining me is a guest who said, well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Physical products can be sold on subscription, and if not on subscription, then on a way that makes it easier for people to be brought back in and buy again.

If you think about a lot of the products in your life, the ones that you buy often are often repeated, same shaven cream, same razor, same coffee, same tea, same, same, same, same, same. Isn’t there an opportunity to create that for physical products? And so he created a company that enables that his name. Uh, de Lippin, did I pronounce it?

Dileepan: D. Yep, you got it.

Andrew: Depin sva. He is the founder of Up Scribe. They enable Shopify stores today coming more in the future to have recurring revenue, and I invited him here to talk about how to do it and we could do it thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first, if you are interested in decentralized autonomous organizations, you should check out my podcast.

It’s available at, uh, join or And if you’re hiring developers, go to Lemon Do io slash mixer. G. Can you gimme a sense of where your personal revenue is right now? You mean your businesses?

Dileepan: you mean me as an individual

Andrew: Your, sorry, your business, your, your business is revenue. I guess what I’m trying to make sure that I, that I don’t, uh, have is what I’ve seen some of your competitors do.

They process a bunch of money and they count that as revenue In interviews, they wouldn’t count that as revenue for taxes, for their accountants, for internal, for investors. But they start to use that as like, here’s how much money we’re making a zillion dollars. But anyway,

Dileepan: That’s right. Yeah. Many of our, many folks in the industry writ large, uh, and SA sometimes speak to or FinTech, speak to. The GMV number, which is gross merchandise volume that you process through your platform. That’s not money we make. And so I’d be very clear about this. We do process more than a half a billion in in G M V, but our revenue is well north of 3 million in a r r.

Andrew: Okay.

Dileepan: uh, we’re not a super small business, but we’re not at scale yet. I would. And Andrew, I’m sure you have thoughts on this. Uh, I would call. What we have is initial product market fit. I think once you hit 10 million you really have product market fit and so we’re tracking to hitting the sort of the nine 10 mark by end of next.

Andrew: And you were bootstrapped, how far did you get revenue wise before you decided to take on funding?

Dileepan: Yeah, so we, uh, with two developers, um, got to a million in a r r, uh, bootstraps. So that was no sales, no marketing, no operations. I was literally wearing all those hats with two developers, uh, and built out the company before we raised a seed ground. And I wanted to do that. And that was intentional to prove out that we could do this, that there was that strong a need in the market for our.

Andrew: So before we got started, I, I said to you there were subscription services for Shopify, for non Shopify stores. Stripe was offering this. There were others. What is it that you saw that didn’t exist?

Dileepan: Yeah, so I think the main thing is many of the companies that were there in the market, in the Shopify ecosystem and also outside of it, Do the core recurring charge processing. They do that super well. It’s like, okay, building again, Andrew, you bought, you know, let’s call it shampoo, and then you bought it again a month later, and processing that charge was really great.

So the infrastructure component of a subscription, what was missing is the subscriber experience. So when you log into an Amazon or you log into, say, Uber Eats and you are. Buying something on a recurring basis, right? More so on an Amazon or say a Sweet Green or somewhere. It’s a very seamless experience.

It’s very customer centric. That did not exist in the solutions that were selling direct to consumer, right? They could process the order and do that recurring charge, but when you logged in to a customer portal to manage your subscription, that experience was like going back 10, 20 years in terms of.

Customer experience, and so we really came out the gate and we’re providing an out of the box enterprise Great experience to all Shopify merchants, regardless of their size.

Andrew: You know what I think the experience that I, that, that comes to that, that brings to mind for me is soda Sense. We have one of these soda stream, uh, machines, which makes club soda for us. We love it. Um, and there’s a service soda sense that will on a subscription, actually it’s kind of a subscription basis.

Take the old ones mail in new one. And figuring out how to even change the address, uh, is such a nightmare, let alone how to change the level of our subscription because they have this old fashioned system in there. And, um, I guess that’s what you’re talking about. The is the issue I would’ve brought up if you said, Andrew, let’s go start a company like that is the merchant doesn’t really see a problem in that.

The merchant’s thinking more about how do I get more customers less. I guess a little bit on how to re retain customers, but a lot less on how do I make it easier for them to update their credit card? How do I make it easier for them to change their plan or, or were they, how, how were they thinking about it?

Dileepan: That’s right. Um, yeah, this is actually a great point and I love the example you mentioned, Andrew. Um, because it really hits at what I think is the issue, um, definitely in our space, in in the competitive set, but also broadly in the market in B2B applications. We are actually a B two B two C application, so we actually have two customers.

We have the merchant who buys our solution. We also though have the subscriber, right? And so most of the solutions in the market understand that they have a customer as the merchant, but they’re not thinking about the subscriber as a customer as well. So they’re like, We have the backend done really well.

We can process the recurring order and the charge, but they did not think through what will the subscriber need to be retained, not churn, and even better purchase more. So they bought one product, and then how can they go buy a new one? All of that functionality, you have to do a lot of custom work on many of the solutions, whereas for us, that’s right out of the box. So it’s really this b2, B2C mindset that’s really important.

Andrew: All right. And so I’m guessing your, your pitch would’ve been to merchants that they can retain more customers and get some of them to upgrade from whatever service they were on so that this is a revenue generator for businesses, not just through s through subscription experiences that are good, but also through retention and up upsells.

Am I right?

Dileepan: Hundred percent. So I would say retention out the gate and churn is the first thing. Reducing churn, increasing retention. And then it’s about how does that bleed into increasing L T V over the long term. So how does someone subscribe to one product, but then also get, so for example, we have companies who.

They might have three best selling products. It’s like start out with one product. How do I get you to then subscribe to two products, then three products, that experience and those flow, those customer journeys are out of the box for us. They are not. So for our competitors,

Andrew: Okay. And I guess for that, I’m thinking about Athletic Greens. They’ve got so many products. You might wanna be on one package, and then if you’re happy and you’re feeling healthier for that one thing, you might wanna upgrade and add another. Then the next thing I wonder is how did you come up with it?

I’m looking at your background. It’s not like you had a history creating a bunch of these subscription boxes and you said, the software stinks. I’ll go create a new. What were you doing before, and then where did the idea come from?

Dileepan: Yeah, so before building, um, technology companies, this is my fourth company, first time found. Um, I actually worked in advising and consulted to Unilever and Pepsi, so very big Fortune 500, fortune 50 consumer goods companies. And so I understood retail and product merchandising and development and really from that, from that perspective.

And then seeing the rise of the early phase one, um, or early stage companies like Dollar Shape Club when they first started out. Well, yeah, I could go into the store and get my Gillette razor or I could just buy this online. Right? And they really won in in doing that. And there were many more companies that built models like that.

And so when I knew, I knew at, at, at, even, even when I was building out growth teams at three different companies, I knew I would found a company. And the question was, okay, well, Why are there no great solutions here that are providing a phenomenal subscriber experience in the market? They’re doing the core infrastructure, but they’re not doing that first piece.

And so that was the genesis of the.

Andrew: Where were, what type of consulting were you giving them that you could see that Unilever and the others.

Dileepan: Yeah, it was mostly on the, I was doing work in retail, um, right, so brick and mortar. So how does Unilever, whether it’s, you know, they’re selling Dove or another product, how are they getting into more stores? Right? How are they thinking about shelf space? And they were just starting to think about e-commerce.

This is now kinda early 2010s, and how do they kind of then com compete against a dollar shape? 11. So we were involved in a lot of the strategy around how do they think about their online presence and then as you probably. Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, and many other companies went on to buy many of the best in Class D.

Two companies like Native deodorant and a few others.

Andrew: And you know what, I’m also looking at your LinkedIn profile and it does seem like there was a period there where you were working at an e-commerce company and you were doing sales. It, it’s not exactly the same, but it was e-commerce, right? So I’m guessing that also informed your understanding of the market.

Dileepan: That’s right. Every startup I’ve worked in, in technology has always been building technology solutions for. Merchants who are selling direct to consumers. So

Andrew: Okay.

Dileepan: were the last thing. But I’ve done work on the mobile front end side. I’ve done work competing against Shopify, which as you can imagine, didn’t go so well.

Cause, cause they won, they won, uh, the market. But this has been sort of my bread and butter for over a decade.

Andrew: All right. So when you decided this was a solution, what’s the first step you took? Talk to customers. Build something,

Dileepan: Yeah, so we actually, for over a year were talking to customers. And it got to the point, Andrew, where, uh, some of our, you know, and I’ve been in the industry for a long time, some of these really, really amazing merchants who’d been, been around and scaled their businesses, um, direct to consumer and were running subscriptions on a, on a competing platform.

They were like, gotta get off this thing, build something and we will use it. And so, you know, I’ve been in, I’ve been in, I’ve been in sales for a long time. When you have like that level of pain and a merchant saying, whatever you do, I will go use, you know, you gotta move. And we had already had so many proof points, but it literally got to a point in late 2018 where I got off a call with one of the prospects and they said, this is a, you know, a major Shopify brand.

And they said, look, just build so. I’m like, okay, I don’t know if I need a clearer indication right now. We need to go do this.

Andrew: I get that. And how did you get all these people on the phone?

Dileepan: So a lot of it was, cause we’ve been in the industry for so long and had kind of built a network of folks that we knew and so they trusted that we had a background. And obviously like, this was not my first, first company, not my first startup, not my first time in e-commerce. Had been working in e-commerce for, you know, almost eight years at that point.

And so, We came with credibility and my background in consumer goods I think was also helpful in knowing, okay, here’s how we can do this. And again, it’s not a, it was, it was never a done deal where, you know, we could have built something and it, and it did not work. We built something, it worked, and then we started getting, you know, an onslaught of customers saying, can I also, and we had a problem.

We had the, you know, the amazing problem of having too much inbound and not being able to know what to do. And

Andrew: too much. Too much inbound suggestions.

Dileepan: inbound, meaning we want to use your solution. Um, and that’s when we pivoted from the bootstrap to the venture, the venture, uh, path for a while, which is, go ahead, sorry.

Andrew: Let, yeah, let me pause there. But going back to the, the first step you took was talk to customers for so long and until you got it so right that they said, okay, shut up and ship. Just build this thing that you’ve been getting us excited about and it was all you going back to your network, what were they telling you that was the problem?

How did they express it?

Dileepan: So it was two things. It was one, what I mentioned before, which is the subscriber experience, right? Which was not a focus area. They, the, the merchants on Shopify had to hack together a lot of different solutions to do one very basic thing. And number two, which you can’t underestimate. Is the lack of support from competing solutions in the market.

And so a lot of merchants were like, Hey, this is not working. And they were not getting the responses they wanted in a timely manner. And so service is a very core value, uh, at our company alongside transparency. And so being able to provide that level of service right out the gate, we were not trying to say We want a thousand merchants on Shopify to use our solution.

At that time, it was really. How do we find the right i c p customer profile or persona and really do right by them to then learn and then grow? And that’s, I think the real, that’s, that’s how I think about B2B as really, really important is like you really understanding what the critical pain points are, build for that with the right wedge, and then scale out from there.

Andrew: You know, I was just talking to a listener of mine who’s got a really good subscription based business, and I gave him a few suggestions for alternative credit card processing companies, and he said, yes, but I have to be really careful. I can’t shift away because. This other merchant has got my numbers, you know, my credit card numbers, and my relationship goes through them.

If I shift, it’s gonna be a real challenge for us. So we’ve gotta figure out how to make that transition. How much of an issue is that, that you could create something good, but these businesses still can’t move?

Dileepan: Yeah, so inertia is a big deal in subscriptions because we’re dealing with, you know, payment data, payment data, subscriber data, uh, and subscription data. So three kinds of data. We white glove all of our onboarding because I don’t ever want a merchant to not use our solution because of some fear founded or unfounded.

The migration process of customer data, right? We live in a world right now where customer data’s very important, and with some of the existing solutions, there were issues in re in relation to data, where it was being kept, how it was being kept, who could access it. And so we made security a very important

Andrew: But how can you do that? Aren’t the credit card numbers and the relationship going through someone like a stripe and if you switch away, they lose those relationships. So you have to find a way to balance what they had with what you’re building.

Dileepan: not to get Tech two technical, but general, we will never touch payment data or card data itself. That will always be with the payment provider, whether that be a Stripe or a Braintree, PayPal, or Shopify Payments. What we have is the token, which allows you to access that.

Andrew: So if they have a relationship, you keep that relationship, you just add software, and it’s a better software layer than what they already had. Got it. So that’s not an issue. So now you’re ready to go. How long does it take to get started?

Dileepan: So for, uh, it depends on the size of the merchant. For a very small merchant, you can get started in basically under a day, uh, or a couple of hours. If you’re new to subscriptions, just starting at your program, the onboarding is super basic, uh, and straightforward. We can get you up and running in maybe an hour or two.

For merchants who are switching from a competitor, it may take, you know, a couple of days or a week to get that data migrated over.

Andrew: How long did it take you to build the first version that all these merchants were looking for?

Dileepan: Yeah, great question. I think we got to an MVP in about five to six months, and it took about nine months. And again, no, not a big team. We had two developers. Right. But we built out a solution that. Started serving enterprise grants on Shopify in, in six months and we’re like, okay, wow, this is pretty amazing, right?

To be able to pull that off with just one back end and one front end developer.

Andrew: Who were the, or how’d you find the two developers?

Dileepan: Again, we’ve been in the industry for so long, so new great folks who kind of understood e-commerce and have been also excited about working on this solution, and so they came on board and so, you know, this is the, I guess, the benefit. Being in an industry, understanding the pain points, knowing some potential prospects as well as the team to go build this.

Andrew: Got it. And so it’s just people you’ve worked with in the past or known through the industry, hired them up and running, build it out within, within half a year. Um, what did it have in the first version?

Dileepan: It had most of the basics, but what it really had, uh, and I’ll, you know, you know, come back to this, what it really had was the subscriber experience was well and above what they had right out the gate. And so it did all the things around the management and the processing of recurring charge and an order and go in and manage description.

But the subscriber, experie. Drastically reduced the number of support tickets the merchant got because, for example, the, the issue that you raised Andrew, of like updating a credit card or an address was really difficult and not straightforward. And so we made that UI and that ux super simple and straightforward.

Andrew: You know what? I do wish I could see the, see screenshots of what it looks like on your site. Um, I just wanna get a sense of what the difference is. I can’t imagine it being that dramatically different from what existed.

Dileepan: Yeah, I think it, what’s I, I think this is actually, it’s funny you say that because like literally a couple of years ago, this was like mind boggling to me too when we started digging in and we’re like, wait, this is your out of the box experience. And so many merchants had to spend, you know, three, four months with an agency to go and customize this work.

And then, as you can imagine, They’re then paying an agency. They have to, you know, they’re already paying money for the solution. They’re now paying work, uh, money on top of this. And so what we said is, and again, having been in e-commerce for a long time, there are e-commerce best practices in UI and UX that no one was incorporating into the customer portal.

So they were spending all this money in optimizing the acquisition flow on their. But then for their most loyal customer, they would log in and see a experience that felt like they were going 10 years backward. And so we were bringing in basically right up at the present day.

Andrew: Do you remember some of those features that you added on?

Dileepan: I mean, so I’ll give you a basic one. Let’s say for example, you’re subscribed to, um, a, uh, green, uh, a greens juice, right on, on a recurring basis.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Dileepan: That merchant also sells, for example, a protein powder. Now, the solutions that existed, uh, a couple years ago, and some of them still today were, did not allow you to add that protein powder on your next shipment.

One time it made you subscribe to them. So let’s, let’s take a step back. When a customer has one product subscribed to, they don’t necessarily always want to subscribe to another one of your SKUs. They may wanna just try it out one time. That sounds super basic, but it was not possible on almost all solutions that were competitors.

Andrew: I see, okay, so I’m on an Athletic Greens website right now. I sign up for Ag one. I decide I want to get something else. Maybe it’s just a one time trial. Add it in with my next package. Don’t subscribe me to it. That kind of thing you’re saying wasn’t wasn’t really available. And I’m, I’m on

Dileepan: Another example, which you may appreciate, which is if you, for example, were to try to cancel Netflix or New York Times, you actually run through a cancellation flow. It’s like, Andrew, are you sure you want to cancel? Here’s an offer. No one was doing anything around collecting data on why merchants were, uh, churning.

So contrast this to the existing solutions where you would literally log in and you could just click cancel, and it would just cancel. There was no collection of data, no offer or incentive to stay, no working on churn or retention.

Andrew: I should say for anyone who’s excited by this type of development work, if you’re looking to hire a developer for yourself, you should know that Lemon has phenomenal developers at great prices. I can say that all day long, but until you see it for yourself, you won’t believe it. So challenge me and challenge them next time you’re hiring.

Go to Tell them what you’re looking for. Let them magically connect you with the right developer. If you decide to hire, great, I don’t get a bonus or don’t want a bonus from you. What I want is for you to let me know, and I want you to have a good experience. And if it doesn’t work out, nothing ventured well.

Nothing ventured nothing. Lost is not the right phrase. You lose nothing if it doesn’t work out because there’s no obligation to work with them. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. But give it a give ’em a shot. Next time your hiring developers go to Lemon do io slash mixer G. Throwing that slash mixer G at the end gives me credit and allows you to get a lower price than other customers.

Lemon io slash mixer G. So you built it out, you got your first customers. Um, how did you go beyond the first few people who you called who were giving you feedback to add more customers?

Dileepan: So a lot of that was, um, well obviously word of mouth referral because when, when we came into the market we were doing a lot of great work and we, I, within the Shopify community of word of referral business, Beyond that, we started building then our marketing inbound and our SEO engine. And this is all happening right now, even before we started doing any active selling.

Right. Which is pretty great. And I love in b2b, one having word of mouth referral, and then marketing inbound and seo, kind of the organic content really driving your pipeline. Because once you have that foundation set, and by the way, those two things are harder and take longer to. Once you have those two pieces, you can then layer in outbound sales in an amazing way and partnerships to really scale your to go to market.

Andrew: I do, I did tell you that when I Googled you, I found a ton of articles, art articles, written about you, podcasts with you, photos of you, you’re very photogenic, and you’ve got a good, like, uh, a good set of shots online. Um, you were answering questions on Cora. How much of your time or how much of your marketing, uh, was about content creation and how did it work?

Dileepan: Yeah, so it’s always a, it’s a, it’s a tough balance, I think, as an early stage company to really figure out how much you’re working on brand and marketing versus the hard selling, what I would call middle to, to bottom of funnel, uh, and acquiring in acquiring customers. I try to spend at least 10% to 20% of my time on that piece.

And what’s really important here, Andrew, is not just about acquiring customers, it’s also being seen as a thought leader as it relates to talent. And so I learned very early in my journey as an entrepreneur that talent branding and talent marketing is as important as product marketing and product. Why we are and we will continue to be increasingly so in a war for talent.

And so if you aren’t bleeding with the ideas around what makes your company a great place to work beyond the product, you’re not gonna win in today’s environment.

Andrew: Meaning when you say talent marketing, you’re saying create content and other marketing that will bring the right people into you and allow you to hire them. Is that it?

Dileepan: That’s right. I’ll give you an example. So I, I routinely will quote Reed Hoffman’s alliance and this idea of a tour of duty, right? Why is this important? Because when I approach any candidate that we wanna hire, I always say to them, subscribe is here for you. To help you get from where you are right now to your career vision, and step in three to five years.

This is not about what the candidate can do for Scribe, it’s also about that. But the, the main perspective I want to drive is what can Scribe do for the candidate? If subscribe can do well by the candidate, the candidate will do well by Scribe. But if, but, but we’re in a world right now where most companies are still pitching themselves as like, you should be honored and privileged to work.

Not the reverse. Right? And with today’s generation, whether it’s millennial, gen Z, and even some Gen X and Gen Y, it’s really important to reframe that perspective as, what am I doing for the individual in their career growth?

Andrew: You know, my wife worked for Marissa Meyer, who, um, built her reputation at Google and then ended up going to Yahoo. And one of the things that she was really good at was letting people know that. We have letting new candidates know how big the, the Google alumni network was in Silicon Valley and being proud of where they’ve gone, not just of what they did while they were there saying, and, and just constantly letting people know, we, we want your whole life to be good.

We want you to have a good career and this is going to help lead to that. And I could see you doing that, but what I, what. Maybe missed was, it seems like what you’re saying is part of this content strategy. Part of you being out in public is so that you could recruit better, so that you could have something that when a pers, when a candidate’s looking to work for you and is Googling, you can see what working with you is like and who you are.

Am I understanding it right? Marketing towards talent like

Dileepan: That’s a hundred percent spot on. End of the day, let’s be clear, Andrew. Not everyone is gonna join a company and be like, waking up. Like, this is the product that I love. Like, great. If you love subscriptions, great. If you love e-commerce, not everyone does. Why would I wanna limit myself to just a pool of people, the small pool of people that just wanna work on that issue.

If I’m thinking broader and I’m thinking about attracting great talent, I want to be putting out content in the world that speaks to why this is a great culture or how you can build a great culture.

Andrew: So what are you putting out there and who are you trying to recruit? Take me into that strategy a little bit.

Dileepan: Yeah, so what, who I’m focused on, and, and again, this is again very, very germane to early stage companies, right? You’re taking on more risk. Right compared to a, a later stage company, but you can roll up your sleeves. I’m looking for folks that will be founders down the road or be leading executives down the road.

So I’m really betting on amazing up and comers. That’s how we can compete in the marketplace, who may go on to found their own companies. Those are amazing candidates for the early stage of the companies. And in terms of strategy, I’m speaking to not only. Look, you’re gonna learn a ton about the company and how to do business, but you’re gonna learn how to build a business and in learning how to build a business, you will also grow personally.

So this is a really important frame for me and the content that I put out there. My journey in entrepreneurship has also been a journey of personal growth. How do I hire? How do I lead? How do I manage? How do I take feedback? How do I give feedback? All those components translate into my personal life, and that’s part of what we like to bring into the culture here at.

Andrew: So before we started, I asked you, did you. Is, did you write that? And I kept referring to different, uh, content that I’ve seen, that I’ve seen you put online and you said Yes. And I hired a coach to help me become a better writer. I was surprised that you were doubling down on you personally writing. I thought, I thought in a world of G P T that you’d be either hiring a writer who would use G P T or using it yourself.

Why double down on personally creating content?

Dileepan: Yeah, it’s not that. So as an example, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting, um, there’s a, there’s a bunch happening obviously around generative ai, right? And let’s just take writing as an example. We will a hundred percent think about how does AI help our sales process, right? Outbound copy, uh, right. Uh, thinking about chat bots, whatever that might be.

So there’s a, a bunch of applications when it comes to, Thinking about content creation and thought leadership. I think AI right now is really great in terms of maybe some framing, headline writing prompts, et cetera. But when you’re telling a story, it’s good. But if you’re TA trying to tell a personal story, you’ve gotta be doing that right in yourself.

AI’s not gonna generate a personal story about you unless you’re like a ton of content on the website. Right.

Andrew: I

Dileepan: So that’s, that’s to me where I can differentiate. I can see a bunch of founders going out there and writing using ai, but none of who they are is in that content. And how am I gonna compete against, you know, that I’m not

Andrew: I see. Okay. All right. I do feel like that’s coming down the road, especially if you’ve been keeping a journal or if you’ve got all these blog posts and podcasts out there. But I thought what you were gonna say was, Andrew, I want to think in public. I need to write myself, not so that it’s personally from me, but so that I can organize my thoughts.

Do you get any of that benefit from it?

Dileepan: 100%. And I, and I would say, you know, I’ve been writing in private since I was in high school. I have journals going back, you know, 20 plus years, and I had to in the last couple of years, but really in the last six months to a year, Really get over this, uh, fear to be quite honest, uh, and limiting beliefs around, um, sharing, um, my writing, uh, getting over the ideas around perfectionism and, and whatever it might be.

To really put myself out there. It’s not easy, but it’s a process. And by writing in public, it’s, it helps me as a speaker, a recruiter, uh, a salesperson, a leader, and a manager. Right.

Andrew: Yeah, that is one thing that I’ve been missing, um, from using ai. Uh, this kind of brings me into my second sponsor. I’ve been fascinated by, by Dows decentralized autonomous organizations. I’ve done a podcast now about dows as a way of understanding it with people who build good ones, with people who are parts of good ones.

Anyway, I wanted to write some summaries. And the publisher of my book, and I wrote my book myself. I suffered through the whole thing and, and it was beneficial, but the, the publisher of my book said, check out AI chat. G P T is a good helper for writing and I’ve done everything from feed in an interview and then get summaries from it, which were decent, but not where I would wanna go to just.

And just writing and then having it improve my writing based on what I’ve, I’ve done in the interviews, which was helpful. But somewhere in there has been a combination that’s been really good for turning those interviews into articles for people who don’t wanna listen to the whole interview. So I should say, if you’re interested in my podcast, uh, breakdown of Dows, how they work, when they work, when they don’t work, and so on.

That podcast is available to you. All you have to do is go to join, and if you want to hear what’s wor or read what’s working partially written by by ai, go to join where you can read up on it. I’ve been fascinated by this. So you had all, you’re not into dows, you’ve got too much in the e-commerce space, right?

Dileepan: There’s a ton. I mean, we, web three and loyalty as it relates to consumer goods is, is a, is a really amazing thing. So we definitely track this space. Um, but you know, that’s sort of a little further afield for us in terms of where we’re going as a company.

Andrew: What are you seeing for web three and loyalty?

Dileepan: So if you think about the idea of major brands and, um, for example, let’s take a major brand who grew and many D two C brands grew this way over the last five to 10 years. The early customers may have been avid fans, right? Um, but own no equity stake in that.

Andrew: Right,

Dileepan: Right. Whereas then the company scaled, I don’t wanna say on the backs of those early customers, but like those early customers really helped scale that brand through word of mouth, through referral, et cetera. And then you have people that already have audiences and capital come in sort of mid-stage and like, okay, I’m gonna put my money in and invest in this company. Right? None of these early folks get any part of that pie. Right? And so there are aspects of web three and loyalty that can help think about this from a more holistic, um, bottoms up perspective.

Andrew: Yeah, that does make sense. Like you will see sometimes that in San Francisco. Entrepreneurs will give their friends, uh, little bits of advisor shares a little bit of equity here and there for being the first customer, for firm, first customers for, for that kind of a thing. And if there’s a pop that becomes worth something, usually not.

But if there is, there’s a nice little upside. But regular customers, people who aren’t connected don’t get that. And you’re right through Web three that is more accessible, you could say. If you’re an early customer, you don’t just pay us and get the service. You also get tokens which you can hold onto, and then that gives you more governance in the present and who knows what in the future, and that is exciting.

Where do you see e-commerce in general going?

Dileepan: Yeah. What’s interesting, Andrew, is that, um, the, even the idea of a direct-to-consumer only brand or an e-commerce, I think these lines, we’ve been talking about omnichannel now for over a decade. It’s really here now. Like no brand I see right now is an online only brand, or very few. That’s the exception to the rule.

Every brand I know right now is selling online, is selling third party, whether that be Amazon, Walmart, et cetera, and especially selling brick and mortar in today’s day and age, right? And so where I see E-commerce going, The understanding of how you underst you, you coordinate with a customer. So for example, a customer might first buy your product offline in a grocery store and then buy online.

How does that work? How do you, how, how are you threading the needle in terms of data and engagement from a customer who buys offline, then buys online or vice versa? Right. That is not done well right now. These are different, these are two different silos in tech stacks in e-commerce, and that will change.

So one of the areas that we will be going into, um, very soon is the wholesale market, which is a massive market right now. There are no good enablement tools in the wholesale market in b2b. So we won’t just be a D to C customer. Many of our brands, right, three quarter. Also sell wholesale, but they don’t have good tools and there’s no, um, cross pollination of like data from wholesale or retail to the direct to consumer side.

Andrew: You know what? I interviewed, uh, Morgan Newman from Mix Made years ago. They had these, um, honeys honey jars with jalapeno or something in it, and he told me he sells it online, but he goes, look, the real, the real big sales are wholesale. And yeah, we have some people come to our site, but we also have a process for getting them.

It’s nice when someone comes and buys one of these things, but when are they gonna finish it? Versus a little store, they could buy a bunch of them and sell them, and it’s really. And you’re saying the way that he probably sold it was there was a form, I think on his site that would contact him and then he’d work out a deal individually.

You’re saying, look, that could happen online and we need a good infrastructure, a good interface for people to be able to buy like that. Am I right?

Dileepan: 100%. So, Andrew,

Andrew: Hadn’t thought of that.

Dileepan: example in, in not the massive big, big, big merchants on, say, a Shopify or a big commerce Emergo, not the very small ones, but in the messy middle, in between where the majority of the market exists. Most merchants are using QuickBooks, email, phone, uh, uh, Excel sheets to manage their wholesale business.

And sometimes their wholesale business is bigger than their online. They have all these great tools for for D two C. And then you go to the wholesale and you ask them, well, how do you manage this? And they’re like, what do you mean manage? And I’m like, What tools do I have? None. It reminds me of D two C 10 years ago before the Shopify’s, before Clavio, before attentive in these companies.

And so there will be great companies built in this space and they’re not here yet.

Andrew: Oh, all right. Let me see right now. You’re so freaking right. It looks like he sold his company. Look at this Freaking a, I recognize this. All right, so he sold his company, I’m guessing, or maybe it’s part of a bigger business that he built himself. It’s called Bushwick Kitchen. I lost touch with him. I said, he told me how much he’s getting from wholesale sales.

He told me to process, let’s see what it looks like now since you and I are talking. I go to the bottom left. I click the wholesale information button. It takes me to a form, and the reason I’m like getting excited is this form is I, I know it’s old because it’s a woooooo form and Woooooo had had sold their business years ago.

They don’t really update the form. It’s nice enough, but that’s what they’re using to. These bigger sales. Interesting. All right, so you’re saying that’s a big opportunity. I get that. What about closing the loop between in-person and online? If I buy razors at Target, how can the Razor company know that I bought it at Target when I go to them online?

Target it doesn’t wanna share information. What do you got?

Dileepan: Yeah, so not that we will engage, but there will be players in this space. And this is where I think you see the, you know, the rise of retail media networks really being a thing which is, um, target running their own sort of ad platform and intelligence to really understand well, who is that customer that’s buying online and, and offline.

There’s potential there for sure. We’re not playing in the sort of ad tech space per se, um, or advertising technology, but we do want to be connecting and partnering with those individuals to understand and make that connection. But so for us, the first thing is be a phenomenal repeat purchase solution for direct to consumer brands online.

Do really well by them for wholesale, and then connect the two dots.

Andrew: What about Amazon versus people’s individual stores? Um, I see that there are stores that look beautiful, but they get more, most of their sales from Amazon and they don’t know how to bring people back into their own experience. What have you learned about that?

Dileepan: Yeah, great. Great question. I look at Amazon for direct to consumer brands the same way I do retail. It’s almost like it’s product discovery, but you wanna have a mechanism that then say when someone buys offline in a retail store or on the Amazon marketplace, something in the packaging. Incentivizes the customer to then go buy from you direct, right?

That could be an offer or a discount. So unless if you’re not doing that, what’s happening is that you’re losing margin on wholesale or on the third party marketplace, right? And what you wanna be able to do is to drive the most loyal customer to your website with some incentive. And right now there are very few companies doing this.

Andrew: Who do you see who is doing it? Well, I get stuff from Amazon all the time, and there are cards in it sometimes saying, you should see our site, or you should buy more from us, or Here’s the family with a photo of the family that sells it. And I never have a reason to go over, so I never do.

Dileepan: Yeah, so, so some of the, the, the strategies I’ve seen or tactics that I’ve seen work are leveraging QR codes. It’s really interesting post covid. We’ve got a lot more familiar with QR codes. The whole world has been using this for eons. Right now, we’re just getting our heads around it. So, you know, leveraging QR codes and some visible discount in the packaging in the box or on the product is super important.

I think that’s one of the best ways I’ve seen, but there are probably other amazing ideas out there that I haven’t yet seen. But bridging this sort of offline to online, I think is the next wave of what happens as it relates to retail and e-comm.

Andrew: Yeah, I guess for Consumerable it’s a lot easier. You’re buying this stuff over and over from Amazon. If you see a discount for going direct, you might want to go direct. Um, yeah, that has been such a challenge. Um, the, the weakest thing that I’ve seen a lot is people will have the Instagram logo and the YouTube logo, and there’s just not enough incentive for anyone to go and connect there.


Dileepan: That’s right.

Andrew: All right. Um, what, let’s close it out with things were going well. When you were self-funded, why’d you decide to raise money?

Dileepan: Yeah, so we decided to, um, pivot from bootstrap to venture because we had a ton of inbound interest and we couldn’t meet that demand right at the scale we were at in terms of two developers. And so we raised that capital. We’re at a point right now after only raising a, a, a small seed round. We’re at a point right now where we are back on the path to profit.

Uh, which is amazing. So it’s almost like we’re bootstrapped, we went down the venture path. We’re now actually, you know, we have a, we have a shot at profitability again by the end of this year, and again, That’s not investing a lot in, in, in sort of the new, uh, the new and next vision. So we will likely raise additional capital.

But I think there’s a, there’s a fine line that we will be dancing here between Bootstrap and Venture that I think is gonna be really interesting. And I, I don’t think we’ll, we’ll be the only company doing that. The upside to how we’ve built our businesses that we didn’t raise at a very high evaluation.

We didn’t play that, you know, that nonsense game that many, that many companies. A couple of years ago when they could raise in at the same valuations. We have a very tempered valuation, and so we are really tuned and attuned to this market right now in the market dynamic. So we feel really great about being able to thread the needle between venture and bootstrapped.

Andrew: Boy, what do you mean you couldn’t, um, you couldn’t grow enough. What, what was the bottleneck? Was it lack of developer, something else?

Dileepan: Yeah, I mean, if you’re operating as a bootstrap company, there’s only a certain amount of people you can hire, um, right, in order to meet payroll. But we had so much demand to, uh, to use our solution, we needed to iterate faster and onboard faster. And so we took venture capital to really scale out the business.

Andrew: All right, well, congratulations on how far you’ve come. Uh, I’d like the name subscribe. That’s such a good domain for subscription-based service for one that’s like leveling you up. Um, and it’s a, it’s a good memorable name too. And, uh, thanks for being on here.

Dileepan: Appreciate it Andrew. Thanks for all the work you do in the world, uh, and uh, an honor being on your podcast.

Andrew: Thank you. Thanks everyone. Bye.

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