Swansea-based inventory software firm, Veeqo, recently announced it was expanding into the US, following a successful funding round; its system is already integrated with the US Postal Service. eDelivery caught up with Veeqo’s founder and CEO, Matt Warren, who shared some of the history of Veeqo – and his plans – with us.
eD: Tell us about Veeqo – where the idea came from, how you got started, your first big break / customer etc.
MW: I’ve spent last 12 years running my own ecommerce companies and grew frustrated by spending huge amount of time trying to keep stock up to date on the different channels we sold through like our retail shops, our website and Amazon marketplace. I was having to high lots of extra staff to keep up with the demand but I knew as an ex programmer that software could solve this problem for me.
I sold my ecommerce company Jura Watches and switched to creating a platform that would make selling easier for retailers, by giving them one portal where they could do everything. I got a prototype working then got Jura Watches using it, so they helped prove it would work and they liked it, so I then (Feb 2013) raised £30k through Seedrs to help fund a permanent developer to join the team to add more features.
eD: What were you doing pre-Veeqo?
MW: I started life as a programmer, worked my up the corporate ladder (with other businesses on the side) then joined a startup in 2000 as CTO, which was a lot of fun until the big crash. I then started my own business selling discounted watches online as I noticed no one else was doing this, with a lot of right time, right place I was able to turn that into a multi-million pound business in the first 12 months.
eD: Who is Veeqo aimed at primarily?
MW: SME retailers who sell online. It works for small retailers selling just on eBay, right to retailers turning over millions of pounds.
eD: What’s it like being a startup in Swansea, is there a thriving tech startup scene?
MW: Its awesome! Veeqo is one of the first tech startups in Swansea, so its been great to grow as the scene has got more mature with a lot of startups and talent now. People are always surprised that such cool things are being created here, but we very lucky to have two great Universities here, where we tend to get more chance of hiring from than London firms.
eD: Is it harder attracting investors because you’re not in one of the more obvious UK tech hubs, like Shoreditch or Cambridge?
MW: I think it certainly puts off a lot of investors, especially at the very beginning. But now we have proven the model and generating good revenue all that goes out the window, they only care about performance now! That is where crowdfunding really helped, as people are more focussed on the idea/team than on things like location. We were also very lucky that one of our main investors had family nearby, which he would travel down from London to visit and use that as an excuse to come and see us.
eD: What prompted the move into the US market – which other markets/countries are you eyeing up?
MW: Our product works anywhere in the world, as people selling online use the same platforms. We already had quite a lot of US customers, who found us organically and as the US market is three times bigger than the UK, it seemed like an easy way to acquire more customers without too much effort. Currently we are looking to expand the US team, as we are struggling to keep up with the demand from the States. I want Veeqo to be a global company with offices around the world one day, our next market will be Australia, but we have also looked at Europe and India.
eD: How does the US service work?
MW: We have partnered with main US shipping companies USPS, UPS and FedEx so our US customers can, with a few clicks, connect their website and Amazon/eBay stores and they can immediately start saving time when dispatching their orders by bulk printing their shipping labels.
We have negotiated really cheap rates from USPS, so regardless of size of our customer they can get cheaper rates.
eD: What do the next 2-3 years look like for Veeqo?
MW: I imagine 200+ employees around the world, growing fast with us focussed on making selling online easier for retailers.