Stitch Labs is an online business application designed for independent manufacturers and small businesses who sell through multiple channels. I sat down with Brandon Levey (Founder), Jake Gasaway (Sales, Business Development), and Willo O’Brien (Marketing), to learn about how their technology is changing the game for a notoriously non-tech savvy audience.
What are the biggest pain points you experienced that led you to create Stitch Labs?
Brandon Levey: The specific story I like to tell is that I went to a trade show in 2008 and built my own software to do invoicing and inventory in preparation for the show. Nobody had anything like that. The guy next to me took a $10,000 order on carbon paper and put it in manila folder. That just seemed crazy to me. And when I talked to other people it seemed that everyone was running their businesses in this way.
How do the different features of your site work together?
BL: From a logistics perspective, all of the different ways that you sell, your products are coming from one pool. If you have one of those left in stock, you simultaneously will have it in your Shopify cart, on Etsy, you may have a retailer that wants to buy it from you wholesale, and this weekend you have that item [at a street fair]. What happens if you’re at that street fair and someone buys it on Etsy. Or vice versa, any of those things. All of the inventory talks to each other, so the shirt is no longer in a silo where it’s not aware of all these other ways you may be selling it. Suddenly it’s aware. When you sell it on Etsy, Etsy will talk to Stitch and Stitch will [notify] your wholesale, street fair, Shopify, etc, that it is no longer available. That’s logistically how it works.
[We use] any way that we can [to] ingrain ourselves into businesses, to help the sellers. One example is – marketplaces cost money to sell in and when you sell [an item] you pay a transaction fee. If you have 100 of [an item] you don’t want to put all of them up at the same time because you’re paying to put 100 up there, and you don’t know if you’re going to sell 100. What most people do is they put one, and when it sells they put another one up. Well, what if you sell it while you’re sleeping? Or what if you sell it while you’re out doing anything else? That’s time that it’s not being up for sale that you’re losing those sales. [Our re-listing feature] generates more revenue for our customers, more revenue for Etsy, and our customers have to spend less time managing their business. So it’s a very unique win-win-win situation.
How are people using the website? What are some success stories from your clients?
Willo O’Brien: It deserves to be noted that one of the best parts about this tool is that it’s really meant for people who are designers and crafters, and who maybe honestly aren’t even that tech savvy. We get that a lot of these people are usually designing clothes and crafting and they’re not super tech people. So largely that’s what the site has been designed [with] in mind.
BL: I love the way that the tool helps people run their businesses, but it’s really satisfying when it transcends the business itself. One of our earlier customers spent so much time [managing orders] that it ruined her relationship with her fiancé and she actually told us…
Jake Gasaway: She told us that he was happy to be around her again. It’s helping these people have more time to do the things they love. We had another customer who said that his sales for Christmas were insane mainly due to the re-listing feature. He sells about 30-40 transactions a day on Etsy. This gentleman has a full-time job and sells on Etsy on the side [so] he doesn’t have time to re-list 40 times a day on Etsy. He [shut] his Etsy store down for a bit to slow it down, because it was selling so much. He couldn’t keep up with it. But we’d much rather someone say, ‘I gotta back off’ versus ‘I’m not selling’.
What does the future look like for Stitch Labs? What’s in the partnership pipeline?
JG: We’ve been working closely with Outright, an accounting application that taps into a lot of [the same marketplaces that we do] and it says [how much] you sold but [not] what you sold, because it doesn’t manage the products. That’s the void we fill. Their target market is exactly the same as ours – small independent, creative businesses, [so] that’s one of the big ones that we’ll be spending a lot of time with in 2012.
BL: We’re working on some mobile things, more integrations with other services and looking at integrations with services beyond e-commerce. What can we do in shipping, in CRM? What can we do in accounting, email marketing, those kinds of things.
JG: We’re testing with one [brick and mortar retailer], but [our product is] mainly for people that sell their own products, versus a storefront that might sell hundreds of different kinds of designs. It’s mostly designed for the designer, the maker.
What, besides all of the above, sets Stitch Labs apart?
JG: Brandon was his first customer. There’s a big difference between an engineer trying to solve a problem, and someone who has lived that problem and can develop the software themselves. Since we started promoting Stitch in August, we’ve seen 2X growth month over month for the past 4 months. [Overall] being able to do what we want to do and grow the way we want to grow is very exciting. Small businesses are going to be the engine of growth in this country, and if we can help that, that’s pretty awesome.