Sramana Mitra: Was there dominance in the platform?
Jordan Brannon: Magento was the dominant platform at that time simply because of market demand. Shopify and BigCommerce were small players in e-commerce in the small to mid-sized space. They weren’t as well-developed.
Magento, at that time, was an open source software solution. It was much more flexible. Part of what made us unique is that we were making a meaningful attempt to evaluate each platform.
On a per-merchant basis, we built some scorecards to help our sales and project planning teams. Since it was a big area of investment, it was also a great source of relationships with each of the e-commerce platforms.
We were semi-critical in certain areas of their operations. We were able to provide feedback for their next series of feature development and give them a pat on the back as well in acknowledging what they were doing right. That allowed us to build some strong relationships.
Sramana Mitra: In 2012 when you launched your first product, could you describe the process of how you came up with that product?
Jordan Brannon: Most of the products that we’ve built have been oriented towards closing a need for Coalition and allowing our operation to work more smoothly. The first product that we launched was a CRM solution specifically geared towards Coalition’s use case.
What was unique at that time was our pay-per-click and digital advertising call tracking and reporting software solution that we built using Twilio’s architecture. That was the first product solution that we launched. We had some customers who were trying to understand how SEO was performing for them.
The lack of a closed loop when it came to anybody contacting their customer service or sales phone numbers is a big issue. It was also a big issue for us. We built a solution that we felt would meet both of those needs.
Sramana Mitra: The 50 customers that you had at this point, did they become customers for this product?
Jordan Brannon: Roughly a quarter of them did within the first year. It was fairly easy to onboard. One of the biggest barriers at that time was the data storage and being able to architect storage for all of the phone calls. It was cost prohibitive for some of the smaller merchants. About 25% of our larger merchants adopted the product within the first year.
Sramana Mitra: What were you pricing this product at?
Jordan Brannon: We had a series of base plans based on account of phone numbers that you would use as well as the expected number of calls. Then beyond that, we pass on a storage cost. If we were recording 500 phone calls a month and we’re keeping them hosted for you, we’re passing that hosting cost to you. We had a free plan. Then we had monthly plans for $29.99, $80, and $200.
Sramana Mitra: You said you were integrating with Twilio?
Jordan Brannon: Correct. We were using Twilio for the backend for that particular software layer.
Sramana Mitra: Did you get any assistance from Twilio to bring this product to market?
Jordan Brannon: Not so much direct assistance. Back then, their APIs were fairly crude but they were one of the few companies that was attempting to improve them. A lot of what we were doing was interfacing with their development and engineering teams to solve particular API problems. That was where we saw support from them.
Sramana Mitra: They didn’t have a marketplace at that time and you didn’t get leads from them.
Jordan Brannon: Correct. There was no business interaction outside of us using them as a backend framework.