Mobile commerce is where it’s at, and rising investment in so-called conversational commerce startups underscores the opportunity. Via, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based startup, is among those riding the wave, having identified some trends that are becoming clearer by the month. First, more e-c…
Via, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based startup, is among those riding the wave, having identified some trends that are becoming clearer by the month. First, more e-commerce sales will be on mobile phones this year than desktops (as much as 70% by some estimates), people tend to read text messages almost immediately, and consumers spend upwards of 30 minutes a day engaging with mobile messaging apps.
Via also insists that unlike an expanding pool of startups that are focused on helping retailers and others broadcast their marketing messages in SMS, there’s room for a player to better address the many other pieces that add up to a happy consumer experience, from delivering coupon codes to starting the returns process.
Indeed, according to co-founder and CEO Tejas Konduru — a Brigham Young grad whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India and who have themselves worked at tech startups — one insight his now 50-person company had early on was that despite that so many of their customers now use the mobile browser to visit and shop from their stores, many retailers use website builders like Shopify or BigCommerce to “cram everything everything into mobile, leaving only enough space for, like, one picture and a Buy button.” Konduru figured there must be a way to take the shopping experience that all these customers have with brands on their website and make them happen in a quick, mobile-native way.
Via’s solution, he says, is to help those businesses interact with customers on the devices and apps they use most often. “When someone uses Shopify or BigCommerce or any of those platforms,” says Konduru, “we also connect it to Via, and it basically takes the entire shopping experience and allows [customers] to quickly swipe right through a menu or like through a catalog on, for example, Facebook Messenger. Via will also create like a native iOS Android app by taking a website, cloning it into a native iOS Android app, then sell the push notification in-app chat layer. Essentially,” he adds, “anytime someone shops on the phone and they’re not using the browser is what Via is handling.”
The “message” seems to be getting through to the right people. Via, which launched last year, says it now employs 54 people on a full-time basis, has 190 brands as customers and just secured $15 million in Series A funding led by Footwork, the new venture firm co-founded by former Stitch Fix COO Mike Smith and former Shasta Ventures investor Nikhil Basu Trivedi.Mobile commerce startup Via rounds up $15 million in Series A funding View Story