Interview with Mike Rossi — cofounder of a successful ecommerce app startup Sweet Tooth

2342acbIn such dynamic space as online business is, it is very critical to stay ahead of competitors. Industry knowledge and advanced information are some of the most valuable components of enterprise success on the market.

An annual community conference for the Magento Open Source Platform, Meet Magento, is now coming to New York allowing merchants to network with the top minds of Magento ecosystem and exchange the best practices and experience. The tickets to the event are already available with a 20% discount with the promo code PromodMM.

One of Meet Magento NY speakers is Mike Rossi, CEO at Sweet Tooth. Mike posseses a great experience in helping Magento merchants successfully build and grow their stores online. We asked Mike to share his experience in online business promotion and tell more about the topic he will be speaking about at the event.

Hello Mike! Thank you for finding the time and answering our questions. Tell us about your path to cofounding Sweet Tooth. What field did you work in before?

Several of us co-founded Sweet Tooth while in our last year of studies at University of Waterloo. We had been working with eCommerce merchants on contract projects: anything from small projects to large Magento implementations. Prior to that, I studied Software Engineering and Physics in school, and also worked as a flying instructor!532274_394936953864589_2028525400_n

Tell us please a few words about Sweet Tooth history. How did the company develop and grow? As we know, it started in the business incubator and now it is operating in the real-life business space.

Prior to building Sweet Tooth, our company was involved in eCommerce consulting. This involved complete builds, platform migrations, and even design & marketing work. We started building Sweet Tooth because there was a clear need for merchants to be able to retain the customers who had already purchased at their store. We saw so many stores struggling to reach and maintain profitability that we knew there had to be a better way. After building the initial version of Sweet Tooth, we moved into a co-working space called the Accelerator Centre while we grew our customer base. We have since moved into our own office, and we’ve been here for about 18 months while growing our customer base almost 150% year-over-year.

What is a target audience of Sweet Tooth? What large famous companies are utilizing your application?

Sweet Tooth is mostly used by small and medium-sized merchants who are looking to increase customer retention, lifetime value, and repeat purchase rates. We also cater to larger merchants who are looking for a strategic loyalty partner to move their most important customer retention metrics year-over-year. Some of the most recognizable clients of Sweet Tooth include Universal Music Group, Olympus Cameras, and Asics.6f65a46cfebe3704ca33b0b476f5fa82

Sweet Tooth application is about rewarding customers for purchases, interactions, social sharing, and referrals. Does it mean that one of ecommerce trends is gamification of the purchasing process and making it more entertaining? Could you share your thoughts on this?

There is a clear trend that the most successful merchants seem to have very loyal customers who purchase often and refer their friends. It’s no longer enough to simply get lots of people to purchase from your store – that gets expensive very quickly. As a result of this trend, we’re seeing merchants move towards techniques that get people to stay around longer and really enjoy their experiences with brands. That can be gamification, but can also be things like unique on-site experiences, great branding, and more.

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Sweet Tooth is a successful B2B company. What marketing tips or tools would you advise to B2B brands that are struggling to reach their target audience online?

 The most important suggestion I have for early-stage company is to truly understand the problem they’re trying to solve, and who exactly they’re solving it for. Then you can figure out when and where people are looking for solutions similar to what you’re providing. This helps you avoid lots of unnecessary work while focusing on the people who care about what you’re offering.

What topics in ecommerce are the most interesting for you today?

One of the most interesting trends is how merchants are required to differentiate themselves from their competitors more than ever before. There is more competition in every category, and margins are reduced as a result.

You are one of the speakers at Meet Magento NY which will take place in September. Could you tell us what you will be speaking about at the event?  Why will Meet Magento NY be of a great help for online retailers?

I will be speaking about the recent trend of the most successful and fastest growing merchants focusing a larger portion of their marketing efforts on customers who have purchased with them before. Meet Magento NY is a great place for merchants to meet other store owners to discuss strategy, eCommerce technology, and – of course – how they are using Magento to grow their businesses.10311787_10154112597590109_8913728270029151769_n

So, in your opinion, what are the top challenges B2C startups should be aware about when launching their business today and what are the key factors that will help such sites grow into successful enterprises?  

 I think the main mistake that we see new B2C startups making is launching into crowded verticals with no real differentiator. At this point something needs to be sufficiently different about an eCommerce store for it to really make a dent in the market.

 Aside from online retail, what other areas may interest you? Would you like to start any other kind of business and what would it be?

All of us here at Sweet Tooth are very interested in how money  moves online. I’m sure if we weren’t involved in eCommerce specifically, then we’d be working with online payments somehow. It’s a really interesting space, and is still growing quickly in terms of both sheer volume, and the pace of innovation.

If you would like to hear Mike’s speech and get more tips on online customers retention, join Meet Magento NY on September 22nd and 23rd!

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