To make ends meet, entrepreneur Derek Low lost his hotel in Bali two years ago and started selling handmade cheesecakes online. However, he struggled to locate a simple e-commerce programme that would allow him to rapidly get up and running and accept orders.
Low discovered that 200 million firms receive orders through phone or messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Instagram, a method he found difficult to trace and collect payments. He also saw that setting up a good e-commerce website takes weeks and is expensive for new firms.
“Managing orders is difficult,” he said. “Most small companies still use spreadsheets to manage their orders and take orders on WhatsApp. It eats up a lot of time that might be better spent expanding the company. We’re part of a new generation of local businesses. Every day, we’re inspired by the tales of our merchants who began selling food from their homes and have now grown to own retail storefronts with industrial kitchens. Our goal is to help small companies change and enable their owners to follow their passions.” They established the Singapore-based Cococart with Zhicong Lim, a technology that allows merchants to set up an online shop in minutes with no programming, no design, and no app downloads. Everything from order administration to mobile payment methods is included in the shop. Without the use of applications or marketplaces that impose unsustainable fees and commissions, merchants may control their own sales, according to Low.
He claims that many of Cococart’s sellers are similar to him. The epidemic spawned a new generation of self-employed entrepreneurs, who now make up a rapidly expanding portion of the e-commerce market. People are also becoming more used to purchasing online, a trend Low does not expect to go away.
“Many individuals who lost their employment, like myself, went to side hustles online, which eventually became their primary source of income,” Low said. “These entrepreneurs found that owning and operating their own company was both more lucrative and gratifying than working for someone else.”
Cococart has been successful since its inception, with over 20,000 merchants in 90 countries having accepted over 500,000 orders and earning more than $15 million.
INDOCIN, a firm that provides on-demand artisan Indonesian food, is one of the company’s top merchants. When the owner first joined Cococart a year ago, she was selling her handmade cuisine from her kitchen, according to Low. She now has a team of 24 employees and operates a retail store.
According to Low, Cococart increased its merchant count by 30 times and its consumer base by 46 times in 2021 alone. During that period, the firm developed from two founders to 22 employees spread across 12 countries.
Cococart secured $4.2 million from Forerunner Ventures and Sequoia Capital, as well as Y Combinator, Uncommon Capital, Soma Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Fitbit CEO James Park, and Curated CEO Eduardo Vivas, to keep the momentum rolling.
Low plans to utilise the fresh funds to continue employing and expanding his client base.
“We’re just getting started,” he added. “Our goal is to define the next generation of commerce. There are still so many challenges in starting and running a business that we want to solve, from deliveries to supply chain to financing. We see a massive opportunity in front of us and we want to bring Cococart to 200 million businesses worldwide.”
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