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Bootstrapping a Niche E-Commerce Business to Exit: Dara Greaney, CEO of BuyAutoParts.com (Part 5)

Posted on Tuesday, Feb 9th 2016

Sramana Mitra: How many people did you have for executing this $18 million business in 2010?

Dara Greaney: I have to go back and pull the numbers, but it wasn’t a big staff. We were keeping it pretty lean. We probably had about 30 people and about 5 or 10 on the phone doing order processing.

Sramana Mitra: You continued to keep your website development in India?

Dara Greaney: Website development stayed in India and we just kept adding new features and functionalities. Automotive parts are very difficult to catalog because you have to have the year, make, and models attributes. That was a crazy period. We had never sourced products from overseas, so we went to China and did this relationship-building. As we got bigger, we had the premium brand name. That was all new for us. None of that had been thought of beforehand. We were really opportunistic. We just looked for opportunities and just jumped on them. The research was on the back of a napkin. It really worked well for us in that period.

Sramana Mitra: What happens after 2010?

Dara Greaney: Nothing in particular. We kept the growth rate going. We continued to see significant growth in 2010. In 2010, the market came back to normal and we saw a lot more competitors entering the market. We saw the rise of eBay. eBay started to become a big channel for auto parts. There was a lot more maturity in the market by that point.

We couldn’t just throw products up on the website and sell them. We spent a lot of time cataloging, photographing, and merchandising. 2012 was a really big jump year for us. That was finally when we moved buildings. We were tired of the 10 different suites all over the place. We moved to a legitimate 55,000 sq. ft. distribution facility so that we could move parts effectively, and try to grow up as a company. I loved the fun of it because there was always something new. That was a real big growth period for us.

Sramana Mitra: At least in the early part of the business, it sounds like very ad hoc in terms of merchandising. Did you, at some point, introduce more system and technology to streamline your merchandising process and your inventory management process?

Dara Greaney: It was a constant iteration of improvement. We got a WMS software and plugged that software to our existing ERP. It was’t like any one decision like, “We’re going to make this big switch.” We just constantly tried to improve. For me, the thought process was you don’t want to take on a monster project. For us, it was just keep building what we need and just keep bootstrapping as much as we can. It’s more controlled than a massive overhaul.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Bootstrapping a Niche E-Commerce Business to Exit: Dara Greaney, CEO of BuyAutoParts.com
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