This year, Increasingly turned five! To celebrate, we sat down with our two founders, Sri Sharma and Satish Jayakumar to hear about the story behind Increasingly, the highs and lows of being a founder, the future of eCommerce and one piece of technology they both can’t live without!
What inspired you both to found Increasingly together?
Satish: I’ve known of Sri well before I met him. He had an amazing reputation as an entrepreneur and leader. So when we finally met and there was great chemistry between us, it felt like the natural conclusion to build something together. Go figure.
But I’ll say this, when looking to build a business, find someone who compliments your skills, who you trust implicitly, whose brain is a playground you can’t get enough of, and let the rest work itself out.
Sri: Having sold and exited my previous company, I was looking for the next big problem to solve, as was Satish. Talking to industry contacts, researching statistics from Forrester, and analysing data from Amazon, it became clear that bundling was an untapped opportunity. If only we could build a software, powered by AI, and could find a client to trial with! That’s where the journey started getting very exciting with Satish…
Satish has an impressive reputation as a tech entrepreneur and an insatiable curiosity. We started our friendship bouncing ideas off each other over coffee, and Satish had ideas on tap! Serendipity led to an exciting five years with lots more to come!
How has the journey been for Increasingly over the last five years?
Satish: You often hear of founder stories that sing all the glory but leave out the guts. But the fact is, it’s been amazing – amazingly hard. Sri and I know that it takes hustle to pull a business out of the ground, to build a team and fund the future – and we did it all bootstrapped by design. I’ve lost sleep, felt my vision blur with adrenalin, lost weight (and I’m a skinny dude!) and pounded the desk a few times. But the honest truth is, I wouldn’t change any of it. And I’m very grateful to have a partner like Sri to walk this road with.
Sri: The last five years have been incredible, but that’s not to say it’s been easy! From technical bugs, and the AI not behaving itself, to trying to win clients, experiencing hiring pains and growing pains – we’ve had them all! That said, I’ve learned in life to celebrate along the way even the little wins, and some of those wins feel so BIG, like promising and delivering incremental revenue for our first client (this client has moved three times and taken us with them!), seeing juniors rise up the ranks to become leaders of their departments and more recently winning a host of incredible awards – there is so much to celebrate and be grateful for!
So what’s next for Increasingly?
Satish: We are at a point of inflection with a tried and tested product at Increasingly. It’s taken five long years to get here. And it’s boring to say that you’ll keep doing what you’re already doing, but that is exactly what I’m saying. The path to success is paved with persistence. Of course, we want to get better and improve our product along the way. And, we’ll rise up to our technical challenges. I truly believe that. As more people join us on the journey forward, I hope and want us to do so with joy, happiness and purpose at the core. To me, the next phase of Increasingly will include a hundred more happy faces who love working with us, and I’d be so darned proud of us when we get there.
Sri: I’m proud to say that our product does exactly what it says on the tin. It drives higher AOV. This, fortunately, puts Increasingly firmly in the camp of scaling up. So the next chapter is about adding value to more retailers. The is something I am immensely honoured and proud to do. In addition, we will also focus on expanding our strategic product offering, and I’m loving working with our team on the current beta products.
What is the best and worst part of being a founder?
Satish: There is so much to be proud of when founding a business. Falling and staying in love with problems that unlock real value for customers. Igniting a team to find and build solutions that live and breathe in the real world. And building a team that genuinely celebrates diversity to create real opportunities for those who join. However, leading can be lonely, even when you have a partner. And as founders, that sensation can be multifold. We fight hard for every win, conserve every dollar and bravely make every bet. Learning to keep externally calm whilst screaming inside when failure visits is a real part of it all. As founders, we wake up every day with that fight.
Sri: I’m proud to have built something that adds measurable value to our customers. Equally, I cherish the culture we are striving to create. A dynamic, creative and open culture, where staff can do their best work and thrive. However, the thought of failure is scary. The reality of failure is that we have to sometimes experience this to get to the next level…and that’s actually pretty exciting.
What changes do you think we’ll see in consumers’ online shopping behaviours over the next few years?
Satish: I believe in a future where commerce connects to where the customer is. As the attention economy shifts from linear link-based navigation to richer video, spatial and closed-app or gaming experiences, this will challenge the notions of eCommerce and on-site shopping. These changes will feel slow until an accelerant comes along, and I believe that it will. I dislike talking about strategy because it is strategic. So look for Increasingly to pave that way forward with more tools to help consumers discover and shop in a wider context that expands beyond just customer experiences on websites.
Sri: The quest of eCommerce is to make online as rich an experience as physical shopping, and twice as convenient. We’re still a long way from that, but that is an existing landscape to be operating in. In terms of the future changes, one that fascinates me is how much social platforms are investing in commerce technology. Beyond the utility of being able to buy directly on Facebook or Whatsapp, this will lead to new ways that customers discover, research together socially and buy.
What will be the biggest challenges for retailers next year?
Sri: As consumers start considering physical retail post-Covid, online retailers will need to think about how they can provide rich and engaging experiences to keep them online. Multi-channel retailers will need to reinvent the balance and interplay between in-store and online to thrive. Increasingly’s functionality traverses consumer experience and convenience for pure-play eCommerce brands as well as multi-channel retailers – and we’d love to help more brands discover the value of this in 2022.
Satish: The short-term challenges remain the same. Depending on where you sit in the market, brands are still figuring out whether to lead with user experience, value or service. It’s hard to win in all these domains. Amazon, for example, competes on experience and service but not on price. Failing to pick a domain or trying to be all things actually creates worse outcomes than failing in one you’ve already selected.
What do you think should be at the forefront of marketers’ agenda in 2022 to stay ahead in the eCommerce sector?
Sri: Traffic is good but let’s talk conversion optimisation, so you can bring that advertising bill down in 2022!
Satish: A combination of boredom and operational inefficiencies can mislead us into believing that only a re-platforming will solve problems. The opposite is true. Sure, you’ll solve that personal bugbear only to find new problems. I’ve seen so many re-platform projects that have been shunted without end. Small changes to what’s already there is better than open-heart surgery on the entire operation. We’re all fighting the same fight with technical debt and wishing we had a database technology that did “X” or “Y”.
What is the most powerful piece of advice you have received?
Sri: Every person is trying to do their best, so have faith in others and search for solutions with both humility and patience. We were gifted with two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.
Satish: Type fast, listen carefully and speak slowly. Play with numbers, and lead with kindness, generosity, humour, empathy and also relentless grit. Life is long, roles will change and situations will morph, and the feet you step on today may be attached to the backside you have to kiss tomorrow.
And finally, what is the one piece of technology that you cannot live without?
Satish: Toss-up between my Garmin fitness watch and Philips Sonicare toothbrush, both keep me focused and fresh.
Sri: Without a doubt my Garmin fitness watch. It motivates me to stay fit and it tracks my surfing in Google Maps – Incredible!!
If you’d like to find out more about Increasingly, and how we can help drive your AOV, get in touch.