If you’re looking to make products that people want to buy, you likely want to focus on, well, making said products. The rise of ecommerce marketplaces has made the process of reaching consumers easier than in decades past, but it’s introduced unique complications of its own. That’s where Chapel Hill’s FeedStation comes in.
FeedStation’s Founder and CEO Michael Linnane has worked at a variety of companies, ranging from startups to Fortune 100s, since he was 18 years old. His current startup began in 2013 as his response to what he saw as a lack of innovation within the ecommerce space in which sellers attempted to access marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Walmart.
“When I looked across the landscape, I didn’t see anything really innovative that actually works with sellers and customers to make their lives any easier,” Linnane said. “There are plenty of tools out there, but sellers all have to run them themselves.”
These tools are also expensive and with many hidden costs, Linnane said.
“I think there’s a better way to do that,” Linnane said, “and I think we’re proving it.”
FeedStation offers sellers a cloud-based SaaS solution to help them gain access to marketplaces like Amazon. FeedStation connects all of a seller’s properties, including back-office systems, to its centralized service that coordinates communication. This takes care of listing items, so sellers do not have to do it manually.
“We work with them to figure out where they want to go, what direction they want to take their business in, and then we basically onboard all those business processes and streamline that entire operation so they don’t have to use the tools,” said Linnane. “They don’t have to have any training and they don’t have to manage it day-to-day.”
With around a dozen clients currently, Linnane said the startup is growing. FeedStation has been profitable since day one and is looking to increase its number of enterprise clients. Pricing begins at $499 a month, and Linnane said his customers like the fact that the cost is both fixed and monthly.
“Monthly billing is really easy for our customers to predict, and they really appreciate that because there are a million other people trying to take a percentage of every single order,” Linnane said. “Margins are slim, so by having fixed our upfront cost every month, you don’t have to worry about what your end-of-the-month is going to look like, and you can basically predict and see where you’re going to be.”
NC IDEA Grant
The value in FeedStation has been noted by NC IDEA, which awarded the startup a $50K grant in the 2019 spring cycle. FeedStation was one of six companies selected for the grants out of 150 that applied.
Linane said that of the customers that come their way via Amazon, some 65% decide to spend money with FeedStation, buying in that the starutp will make their lives easier.
“Sellers’ lives are already hard enough,” Linnane said. “They have a lot of different interests competing for their attention, and the last thing they need to do is run their own integration side-business that forces them to change and impedes their ability to adapt to marketplace changes. So I think we are successful in helping them with that and I hope we can continue to basically improve the lives of our sellers by giving them access to new markets.”
Linnane, who just recently took his business full time, said he is searching for opportunities to meet people in the startup community looking to solve enterprise challenges.
“What I hope to do in the future is take a larger portion of the multi-billion dollar market, and there are billions of dollars that are spent on tools every year in this country alone,” Linnane said. “That doesn’t even count worldwide, but includes things like tools and training and lost opportunity costs. So we want to be able to get larger proportion of that and really build a team here in the Triangle that is a world-class, expert team that can solve a variety of problems for our customers.”