While working together at a local tech company, Lauren McCullough and Harry Park discovered there were more problems than solutions in the automotive parts ecommerce space.
Many automotive parts sellers who used drop shipping—a process where third-party retailers accept orders from customers without keeping stock on hand—struggled to understand their products’ performance. This method often comes with limited data, making it difficult for sellers to know how to scale their business.
Earlier this year, McCullough and Park launched their Chapel Hill-based startup Tromml, an analytical solution tailored specifically for drop shippers of aftermarket auto parts.
Under the tagline ‘eCommerce reporting, Designed for automotive drop shippers,’ Tromml’s platform helps aftermarket sellers monitor their performance and ensure they are selling profitable products. No matter where the data lives—inventory feeds, marketplace data, order reports, or supplier purchase orders—Tromml pulls all of it together in one place.
A number of data platforms exist, but they provide generic reports, Park said. Tromml’s approach is to take a vertical slice through that and make it industry-specific.
Tromml will help sellers understand how to scale their business based on excellent analytics reporting, not a guess, McCullough said. Automotive sellers want to be data-driven but they just don’t know how to be.
“This is their livelihood,” she said. “I want (sellers) to feel like they can go to the kids soccer game and not check their phone all the time.”
Tromml was recently named one of 15 startups that received a $10,000 MICRO grant from NC IDEA. Other local recipients include BCombs, Dojo Fresh, Givefinity, Committees, and TSV Analytics. [The links are to previous GrepBeat feature stories.]
The funding will contribute to several initiatives, McCullough said. The company plans to hire a data analyst to increase the number of analytical reports produced for the platform. It will also go toward sales and marketing in 2023, as well as conference attendance.
Being able to attend conferences is critical, McCullough said. That’s where most of the high-performing sellers are going to be, and they are typically looking to buy.
Ties to Triangle tech scene
While both co-founders are considered North Carolina “transplants,” McCullough and Park have been long involved in the local ecosystem.
Since moving to the Triangle from Ohio in 2015, McCullough has worked directly in and with early-stage startups, such as at support organization NC IDEA and startups ArchiveSocial (now Optimere) and Quinsite. Her large network in the Triangle ecosystem has proven invaluable, she said, and there is also a significant amount of support available for upcoming founders.
“We are able to actually start to leverage that (network) when we’re looking for feedback, and being able to understand how to be coachable,” McCullough said. “We’re always looking for people who want to poke holes in our ideas.”
On other hand, Park, who is a native of Alabama, has lived in the Triangle for more than a decade. He has always had the entrepreneurial bug and tried to launch a few startups in the past. One of them being TheraGo, a Chapel Hill electronic medical record startup for physical therapists.
He and McCullough complement each other well, Park said. McCullough is a great communicator and relationship-builder, while he can perfect their platform and make sure their clients’ needs are met.
Tromml’s Client Profile
Still in its early stages, the Tromml team recently started working with their pilot customer a few months ago and are encouraged by the feedback so far. They hope to bring on a few more clients soon.
McCullough said their ideal client profile are auto parts sellers who are large enough to have significant sales but not so large that they have invested significantly in analytics. The Tromml team is particularly interested in working with those who are already tracking data manually in Excel sheets.
“We’re working with people who are doing over at least a million dollars a year in sales on Amazon and eBay and are leveraging drop shipping as their primary fulfillment method for selling car parts online,” McCullough said.
With the goal of being a custom analytic solution, they are focused right now on creating integrations specifically for the auto parts industry, Park said.
“How can we keep providing reports and dashboards and the types of solutions that make our service sticky?” he said.
For example, most of their clients are more visually inclined, Park said. So, they make it a point to present data visually, whether that’s through a graph or a number of charts.
They have yet to see a product like theirs, McCullough said. Other solutions have not had much success because of their generalized approach. Besides bringing on more customers, they will focus on building out the platform and scaling up the business in 2023.
When asked how disruptions in the supply chain have impacted Tromml, she said these disruptions just make the need for good data even more important.