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Building a Global Software Company From Australia: Bigcommerce Co-Founder Mitch Harper (Part 6)

Posted on Sunday, Oct 5th 2014

Sramana Mitra: By now, you are now in your Series B phase. You have already leveraged your install base from your previous company. What has been the primary customer acquisition strategy in the scaling phase? I do see you advertising a lot online.

Mitch Harper: I wouldn’t say there’s one main channel. I’m really good at optimizing – using Google AdWords, using retargeting, using content marketing through the blog and YouTube, and working with design agencies as well. We work with 2,500 design agencies to sell Bigcommerce. I’d like to say there was some secret marketing strategy, but it was all about optimizing the different channels we used and making sure we get the best ROI from those channels. If a channel doesn’t work, then we reduce and reallocate it somewhere else. We’re always testing. We’d put $5,000 to $10,000 in a channel. If it doesn’t work, we drop it. If it does, we’d scale up until we max out where the ROI wasn’t increasing and then we look at another channel.

Sramana Mitra: There’s no dominant channel?

Mitch Harper: In the end, it’s dominant in terms of spend on search engine and working with our partners as well.

Sramana Mitra: The design agencies must be a very good channel to work with.

Mitch Harper: They are.

Sramana Mitra: We’re in 2012 with your Series B. Is there any more financing that has gone into the company?

Mitch Harper: Yes, we did a $40 million Series C last August.

Sramana Mitra: That’s also General Catalyst?

Mitch Harper: No, that’s Revolution, which is Steve Kay, the founder of AOL.

Sramana Mitra: What is the distribution of customers now?

Mitch Harper: It’s fairly global. The majority is still in North America, but it’s not by much. We have customers pretty much in every country, but the main regions would be North America, UK, and Australia.

Sramana Mitra: This is interesting because you’re saying that your sweet spot are companies that are doing over $1 million in revenue. Therefore, your customer base would be where e-commerce is really big. That would be the United States and UK. I’m not familiar with the Australian e-commerce market. I know UK is very strong. For instance, India would not be a strong market because Indian e-commerce is very small.

Mitch Harper: We’re normally two or three years behind the US in terms of technology adoption and scale. Back when we started, we didn’t have that many customers here. Now we’re the leader. There are a lot of fast-growing brands here. E-commerce transactions are growing faster here than in the US and our population is one-tenth of the size. There are merchants doing really big business here in Australia.

Sramana Mitra: What are the emerging markets other than these three? I’m asking because I’m interested in what that says about the growth of e-commerce in general.

Mitch Harper: I think Brazil and India are two markets that are interesting to us that are growing quite quickly. We have partners in those regions and we have launched offerings for those partners to sell in those regions. We don’t have any people on the ground. As a percentage of our customer base, they are growing quite quickly. There aren’t many merchants doing $1 million to $10 million, but there are lots of smaller merchants just getting started. They’re growing very quickly from a revenue base of maybe nothing, getting up to a few hundred thousand dollars a year.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Building a Global Software Company From Australia: Bigcommerce Co-Founder Mitch Harper
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