EP 14: Popup & the No-Code Movement in the eCommerce Industry

Meet our guest:
Matteo Grassi
Matteo is the co-founder and CEO of Popup, the only no-code eCommerce platform that lets you visually build and control your customer journeys while managing multiple Popup stores from 1 admin in various languages and currencies. He’s also the co-founder of DIDO NGO and DAO that supports volunteers for impact projects using content as a form of token. Matteo’s entrepreneurial journey has been a mix of experiences and challenges that he loves to share with others in the hopes of encouraging them to unleash their full potential.
Meet our hosts:
Dave Pancham
Dave has spent over 12 years in the industry where he has managed an e-commerce supplement shop for 8 years where they grew from 6 figures in yearly revenue to over 8 figures, managed millions in ad spend on Facebook, and founded a 7-figure fitness franchise marketing agency specializing in paid advertising, lead nurturing, and membership growth coaching which currently has over 100 clients.
Alex Ivanoff
Alex's specialty lies in psychology, paid advertising, funnel building, technology, and finance. He has managed millions of dollars in ad spend on various social platforms, and solved complex problems with thousands of businesses.

Transcript

Popup & the No-Code Movement in the eCommerce Industry

Alex Ivanoff

All right, welcome to the next episode of Mission Control. I am your host, Alex Ivanoff. With my co-host and partner, Dave Pancham. Today we have a really awesome guest, his name is Matteo Grassi, and I hope I said your last name, right? And we're awesome, we're so excited to have you, man. We've been chatting for a couple of weeks and getting to know you a little bit and what you got going on. It's really, really exciting stuff and I can't wait to get into it. So just tell us a little bit about what you do, where you're from, where you're calling from. And you know, tell us about how this is starting to come together and your specialty.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, so I'm currently in Ireland, but my passport is Italian. I guess I've been away for 20 years so I've been speaking English as my first language for a long time. So that's why I say my passport is Italian. I started very early in eCommerce in 2006. Before Shopify, you know a lot of these platforms that we see today, co-founded Ecommerce Accelerator, worked for different brands, and did a little bit of consultancy. But then the breakthrough came when I met Cory Holmes, who is my business partner. We met in Shopify, and we left Shopify. 

Co-founded a company called Visor Group, which is seven different eCommerce brands, we started with $1,000, we scaled to 60 million in revenue in our first year, we did 7 million in the second year that was because of the IOS 14, and you know, we could about today. And then, you know, just trying to keep up with the ever-changing eCommerce market and try to compete with everyone else. We decided to take another challenge and Bill's entwine an eCommerce platform which is PopUp so Visor Group now is still a company with our direct-to-consumer brands and is an agency that builds brands for influencers, but we've been focusing on PopUp for the last year, and now we're just trying to, for the company we just need to launch the beta so we are full steam ahead with PopUp.

Alex Ivanoff

Okay, cool. So you've worked in eCommerce for a long time. So you did your own, you had like a little bit of a marketing and consultancy thing before you went to Shopify, and then you joined Shopify. How long ago was that? And what was your role there?

Matteo Grassi  

So, when I started in Shopify, I did three months, literally in support, like it was actually really, really cool because I started at the bottom. Different reasons because I was in Ireland. So Shopify was not in Europe at the time. That was in 2014. I was one of the first employees here in Ireland, I think now there are probably 5000, 10,000 between Ireland, the UK, Germany, and everything. So I'm talking about Shopify which was just in Canada, and Shopify Plus I think was like three months old. So I started as a support for three months in support, and then there was an opportunity to be the first Shopify Plus merchants Success Manager in Europe. And I took that role. And then I also started to work together with the product team for the internationalization of Shopify. So that was my role was between like, you know, merchant success, and also working with the product team for this internationalization project, which I think turned out to be like markets. I think it started in 2016 and now, it took like seven years, but eventually, they did it. It took longer than expected. But they were looking at how to internationalize Shopify for a while. Yeah, and that was my role. I think. For me, it was an amazing break from consultancy. It was really, really hard at the time, a lot of businesses were closing. I got screwed over a little bit, some businesses folded down and they couldn't pay me and I was going through a divorce. I am a single dad, in a foreign country. I was like, I need something, and Shopify literally, I can say not saved my life, but really kind of gave me you know, an amazing opportunity to just have a stable job and I could work from home for the first time like it was. It was one of the first companies that hired remotely and remote work wasn't an a massive thing in 2015. So I was able to spend time with my daughter. I had a fixed income. So it was right. But I was always an entrepreneur. So after a while, I think the supporting role was great. I was doing my 9-6 and logging out and not everything. But as soon as I entered in plus, were you more enzyme just started working with the merchants, then you realize is like, I need to go back to just to do me because I was stressed all the time, right? Because you treat businesses that you work with like you're own, and then you're like, Okay, I think as soon as basically my role, as soon as that and more responsibility. I was like, No, that's, that's, that's, I cannot do that. So I left Shopify and started Ecommerce Accelerator, which I don't actually have in my LinkedIn because that was kind of an interesting story there. That's when I got introduced to drop shipping and Facebook advertising. Back in 2016. When, I called it the golden era of Facebook ads, when you were launching an ad, and you had like five ROADS, six ROAS, like that? CPM in the US was like $5?

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah, I like seeing that again.

Matteo Grassi  

So yeah, so basically, I think it was successful because we were starting basically selling kitchen products and the kitchen product were between like, $5 and $15, $20, maximum, things that you cannot do anymore because the CPM is just so high that you cannot lead, you can't have an average order value of $20. Right now, I think it doesn't matter how much your site converts, just like the math is not there. So we started with this guy, basically. And he had like, here, like two or three people in his business, I think he had like a fulfillment center in China and I took basically my knowledge in eCommerce and everything that I learned about how to grow a team remotely in Shopify. And I took it in. And we did basically 25 million in two years, completely bootstrapped. But with a different vision, he wanted to keep on making money selling drop shipping products. I wanted to build brands. To me, drop shipping was a starting point to build brands in the future, right? And you didn't do so eventually, I think I left that business with pretty much nothing. There was no partnership signed. So I left with a lot of knowledge and not a lot of money. So I reached out to this guy that I met in Shopify a few years ago that I really liked, which is Cory, and I said, Hey, what's up? What are you doing right now? And I was like, I'm trying to be a travel influencer in Bali. I left Shopify. I'm just trying to figure out my life, man. I was like, Hey, I have all this knowledge about scaling ads, and you know, marketing and growing businesses. And, and I remember you had some brands too, and you're great at actually building stores. And, and I was like, Hey, let's, let's, let's start with something. And he was like, What do you have? And I was like, Well, I have a headphone store. So we went to this headphone store. And there I think it was like September, so it was like just before Black Friday. And that was literally the first burst of money that we got, I think we did like 150k profit.

Alex Ivanoff  

What year is this?

Matteo Grassi  

That was the year 20, that was before the pandemic. When was the pandemic in 2020?

Alex Ivanoff  

2019 it was?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, that was 2019. And then during the pandemic we found, then we during the pandemic, basically, we rode the wave of the pandemic. So I think we came up with the right product at the right time. We had health supplements and immunity supplements. It was like a combination of things that came together. So I'm not saying I did 60 million because I have the secret to 60 million. We knew what we were doing. And it was the right product at the right time. But also it came with a lot of experience and a lot of contacts that I had before. 

Because I always say I started with $1,000 and I did 60 million in revenue, which is the true story. But I didn't really start with $1,000. I started with $1,000 and 10 years of experience, which I think a lot of people forget to say, right? And I think giving the wrong expectation to people starting out like I had PayPal accounts was more than that. I knew how stripes work. I had contacts already with fulfillment centers. I had a business manager already warmed up that would allow me to scale. I had an account manager on Facebook. So you know, it's like I didn't have any money, but it's right.

Dave Pancham  

You came into the game with an account manager at Facebook at that time.

Matteo Grassi  

That’s the thing, right? But yeah, so I think during that time then, then we started to basically explore what's next for us, and this will potentially be a PopUp potentially.

Alex Ivanoff  

So before we get into PopUp, because there's a lot to talk about here, it seems as if there's like this, and I'm a big Twitter guy. So I see this a lot on Twitter. But overall, in the SaaS space, there's a big no-code movement, where a lot of tools or developers are building tools for people to use without having to code things and you know, build really cool things. Why do you think that this is happening now? And why is it important and why is it taking off now?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, I think it's important, because personally, what I'm passionate about, and these are probably gonna get a little bit into politics, or maybe social issues as well. I believe that economies should be decentralized, meaning that the power should be in the small businesses, and not just in the heads of the big businesses. I'm not saying that Amazon shouldn't exist, Walmart doesn't exist, or these big conglomerates shouldn't exist. But I think that is a massive risk, then, you know, when it comes to new, just like, power and money in the hands of like few people, as you see in, in politics, you see it in, in the economy. So I believe that small businesses need to have a chance. 

The issue is that small businesses don't have a chance. Because, you know, if you want to launch a store, you need to have money. And I think Shopify did that. Shopify democratized launching an online store but solving problems, creating problems, at the end of the day. So what Shopify did, was they were able to bring everyone online, now that everyone is online, it isn't a problem. 

Building customer journeys, having doing A/B testing, I think there's like the complexity of running an e-commerce Store has increased. So I think no code to me is no code equals the democratization of something, right? Giving the power to anyone that has an idea and doesn't have the technical skills, or the money to pay developers, for instance, to create something that they want. And going a little bit further on that. It's like, the only thing that makes us different from animals is imagination, right? For why, you know, because then animal things like, you know, what, how, what I'm gonna eat, how gonna either, or where I'm gonna eat or when I'm gonna eat it, but I never think about why am I eating this way. And I think as humans we are, we are programmed to do that, to say why I want to do this. And our imagination is what makes us human and imagination is the desire to create something. And when you want to create something, if you have a no-code solution, that is like something like builder.io or PopUp, or Shopify gives the ability to people to be more human. So I guess I went very philosophical there.

Alex Ivanoff  

No, I like it. No, that's good. I mean, I was going to ask, I was going to ask more. So is it? Is it really just because of the shortage of developer talent? Really? I mean, so many, you know, everything is technology-based, and everybody needs developers, but there's just not enough people. So I mean, but that's probably a factor. But I like your take as well.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, no, I think, yeah, it comes down to that, obviously, there is like, if you are a business that has the money to do, like for instance a week, we had them with PopUp to really large enterprises, I'm talking about Gap, I'm talking about Ralph Lauren, right? So for them, it's not about the money, it's not about developers, they have the money and the developers, but they actually have two issues. First, is the communication between teams, meaning that in these big companies, every team does one thing, but they're all completely disconnected to each other. And that the second thing is that the marketing team is not empowered to make the decision without relying on developers. And in these big teams, things are slow. So no code is not just a matter of money, just the better of iconified developers also matters of speed, you know, I'm a marketer, I, like developers, developers develop, build things, a marketer thinks in a completely different way. If you can empower the marketing team to make the decision without relying on someone else, and maybe even to test things before you build them. That's why I think no code can come in. So it's time.

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah, I agree. And it makes sense. So what was the background? Tell us from day one, what was the background story of PopUp? How did it come to life? You know, was it just your idea, or was it a collection of your and other friends' ideas from your founders? How did it all start from the beginning?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, I think it was just like my seventh quality. I was working as a Merchant Success Manager, he was mentioned as a Success Manager and then he moved into launch engineer which is more like a mix between like engineering and mentioned success. But, you know, aka is you're listening to problems every day. And you're trying to solve problems that people have, right? And then we ran our own eCommerce stores. And we started to realize that those problems were our problems. And this, I think PopUp came from our conversation of like, what, why can't we do these things? And then the first, the first case is like, why are things so complicated? And the first answer that we got was like, oh, maybe because we're Shopify people, right? So we have not tested any other eCommerce platform out there. So maybe it's because that's the problem because we are too embedded in the Shopify ecosystem. So we went out and tried every e-commerce platform out there to try to do what we wanted you to do. And what we wanted to do wasn't anything crazy, it was literally creating pages dedicated pages for past click acquisition campaigns, or running native ads, or running upsells after checkout that combined the orders together and didn't split the orders. So my ERP system, you know, doesn't, so I don't have to basically call my fulfillment center and say, Hey, make sure you combine the orders. And all of that like, was really literally simple stuff, right? And I was like, okay, Shopify has this app solution. So for every problem, you have an app. So let's test the ClickFunnels, right? So click funnels gave us ClickFunnels allows us to kind of think differently, you know, in terms of like, you know, stores and the way funnels work. And that's where we started to kind of have the idea of, What is wrong with all the eCommerce platforms that we tested, and we realized that what was wrong was this blueprint, this, this blueprint of the online store has not changed since the 90s. And Shopify took a blueprint and made it accessible to everyone. And that was a shoe. At the time, it was fine, because they were trying to solve this problem. They were basically trying to solve the problem at the time. No one can build a store without paying for a developer and Shopify was like, No, you don't need to pay a developer, you can build a store on your own. But now the problems are different. Now, it's not about how can I create an online store, you literally can create an online store, anywhere, I mean, even GoDaddy has online stores, and Canvas now is coming up with online sources, like, creating an online store is not the problem. The problem now is customer journeys. How can I build a customer journey, we realize that customer journeys were part of the retail world for a long time. And forever, they've been their stores, how customer journeys, you know, if you go like in h&m, or any other big retailer or Adidas, the merchandising constantly change, you know, pry certain products or place next to the tail, because you know, they want the customer to come to the table and then check the app says, you know, it's like, all of and then you have different floors for different gender, right. So you have an entry point for men and an entry point for women. And I was like, why can we just do this with an online store? And so that's, that's where the idea started to come. And then as well, we created it. Yeah. This is how PopUp started.

Dave Pancham  

Was ClickFunnels the only thing that gave you a lot of inspiration? Were there any other platforms that were helpful?

Matteo Grassi  

We tested every funnel building up like Boo funnels and all of this, I think, but ClickFunnels was, I think the first, ClickFunnels has been around for a long time, you know, and I personally don't like the product. I think they're not productive people. Russell is a marketing guy. They sell courses. They issue with all these funnel apps as they're great for selling one product selling one course. But then when you shift into eCommerce, they aren't working that well. So our challenge was how we can create customer journeys, taking the concept of ClickFunnels but bringing it into eCommerce. But then our solution obviously doesn't have a journey builder visually. That's the idea that came from many chats. So many, we were using many charts for a lot of our campaigns and a lot of our chatbots and things like that. And we realized that the customer journey is a conversation that you have with the customer like hey, come to my product page, maybe you want to see this or you want to go to the checkout, but no one will redirect you there. So using conversation funnels allow us to kind of emulate you know what we wanted to do on an online store. If you see our journey builder when people say it was like, Oh no, it looks like many shots. Yeah, so.

Alex Ivanoff  

So okay, so let's talk about PopUp in general, the concept. We're gonna talk about how we got here. Like, it seems like it solves a lot of different problems, right? Quicker testing. As we said, no code, and overall faster browsing experience, it's called PopUp in the ideas to everything PopUp in the same window. Custom journeys, as you said, men, women, if you wanted to, for example, but like, what's, what would you say is like the biggest problem it solves? And what's the what's, what's the like, if you had to bring it in one term? What is it?

Matteo Grassi  

I think it comes down to flexibility, right? And in fact, I don't know what the future of commerce is going to be. You know, people say it's going to be social, it was going to be virtual. But one thing that is going to stay the same is the cost is the customer journey. So we're trying to build a company that today we are using Pages and brings people into the journey, two pages, but owning the customer journey and controlling the customer journey. It's the core of what we're trying to do. And I think the main issue is that merchants today have no control over the journey that the visitor takes to checkout. They don't people going to the homepage, and the tech lead, you don't know where they're like you cannot control, they can go in the route, and then maybe they go back and then we go into the product, maybe they're going to check out, maybe you don't, you'd already know, we probably control this and you route the way you want. So the customer doesn't know. And this happens in retail all the time, you will enter in h&m, I notice things because I have a marketing and business mind. But people don't probably notice that. Oh, yeah, they place the item next to the field. Because obviously, have you ever seen a store where people make you go like only loops? And it's like, what the hell is index? It's just over there? Through all these loops, obviously, because they want to share things.

Alex Ivanoff  

Right? So it's sort of like things that last second, oh, I needed that. I forgot about that. You know,

Matteo Grassi  

Exactly right, the customer doesn't know. But the guy that is on top is controlling this and moving the merchandiser, right? I know. And I think we wanted to give back control, to the merchants on the journey to the customer. The journey can be a link in bio, going into a checkout, going into an upsell, and going into an order confirmation page. We also realize that before, there were literally just maybe Google ads, that were in blogs, right? That's organic, and blogs. But now there are Google ads, then you have TikTok and then you have Instagram, which means that you also have the link in bio, and now you also have people coming in from live streams. So the way the entry points where the customer comes in is not one anymore. There are so many. So you need to have different entry points, and different doors, this is where we come up with any of the entry points, you can have different entry points into your store and customize the experience. So you're not actually building an online store anymore, you're creating a shopping experience. Because at the end of the day, what you want to do is you want to convert more, you want to convert more visitors into customers that are as simple as that. So what we're trying to solve is democratizing conversion rate optimization.

Alex Ivanoff  

And you know, what's fascinating is, I know a lot of people hearing this so far are gonna be like, that sounds very complicated. Like, it sounds like another platform that if I get on it, I'm not going to know how to use it, I'm going to be very overwhelmed with how to build a new journey for each visitor. But what I would love to do is have you demonstrate in a screen share here, essentially how simple this is, because you showed it to us on my last call. And it was just fascinating how you build something in a couple of minutes. So for the audio listeners, it will cut this out and you can check it out on YouTube. But Matteo is going to, if you don't mind, take us through a quick demonstration of building a funnel on PopUp.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, so yeah, this is basically PopUp. For this particular account, one thing that we did in PopUp we set it up as a multi-store meaning you can have one PopUp store, and you can have 5, 6, or 7 Different PopUp stores. different use cases for this can be like if you're a brand management agency that you want to manage different stores under one name. Or if you want to have different languages and different currencies, right? So when you go into a PopUp store, the first thing you're going to be brought in is the journey, right? So here is like a journey that is built for a particular store. But the way you basically build journeys through this drag-and-drop visual journey builder, you click on the plus icon, and then you have a list of options that you have, which is basically all the elements means that you need to create the journey and these elements are the entry point, which is the first door into your store, which is basically a link. And then you have a general page, if you want to have a page where you want to show content, not necessarily a product, and you have a lead page, if you want to capture leads, a sales page is more like an eCommerce type of page, then you have a checkout page and after a page or the confirmation page, and also redirect is, for example, at the end of your journey. Let's say you are a YouTuber, you don't want to send people back to order confirmation, you want to redirect them to your YouTube channel. So the first thing you do is like you create entry points. And then let's say you want to do something like some native ads, right? So native ads, the thing that you want to do is create a general page where it's basically an infomercial. And after that, you want to have a sales page where you can show the products that you want to sell, and you're going to connect his pages through an arrow. After that, you're going to send him to a checkout. And after the checkout, you want to send them to maybe an offer. But the cool thing about the offer as well is that it is accepted and denied. So if the person accepts checkout, you're going to show them an offer, meaning we're tokenizing the cards and we combine the order as well as an add-on, which means that you don't have to deal with doubling orders like click funnels, for instance, does that which is kind of annoying, you know, you create two different orders. And then your ERP system or your fulfillment center has to deal with two different orders. And sometimes you basically paid shipping twice, right for the same person. And the customer gets, you know, the shipment differently into the different postal, post. And then so the offer, please accept or deny. So you can do that if the customer accepts the offer, you can send them to an order confirmation page. But if your customer denies an offer, you can basically send them another offer, maybe 50% off, you do 20% The first time and 20% the second time. So you're dragging and dropping all the elements like this, like in this visual journey builder. And then you go to the front end and customize the journey.

Alex Ivanoff  

What would you say for the brands that you're because you're this is life, right? And you're some beta testers, right? Can you give us a background on how long? What's the timeline of PopUp getting launched and what your current beta looks like?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, so we have about 30 brands on the beta right now. We're working mainly with brands that are already processing transactions. And, you know, it's like you said PopUp, it looks complicated. I think if you are already thinking about A/B testing customer journeys if you're already processing traffic, you're already thinking about this type of thing. So you see the added value straightaway. Meaning that if you are someone who's just starting out, literally like starting out, I mean, like, oh, I want to have an online business, right, and what kind of products I need to find. And what kind of theme I'm going to use PopUp is not going to be I guess the best solution until we come up with something like the Moto verse, which is basically PopUp kit, where we give you premade journeys already made for you if you're a creator, or maybe if you're just starting out. So we need to have this type of education and this type of onboarding to onboard. Everyone else. But the experience itself is usually really, really quick. I was actually saying that in something right before this call. I wanted to create for this particular store, I wanted to create like an entry point for four reviews. So I basically created this page called reviews as an entry point here. Because we were testing this new Trustpilot integration, right? So I have my link here called trust pilots. Use confirm. Yeah, so I was thinking about it like when you find launching ads, right? We Trustpilot and say, hey, check out all my reviews. And instead of basically sending in a regular page, I want to send in a reviews page like this page. I found this brilliant. Here we go. Sorry. I don't know why. Yeah, here we go. So yeah, I want to send them to a page like this, which is basically a landing page where I have all my Trustpilot reviews. And then I show the product at the end. You know this is something they like to literally take me two minutes to do, right? I just like creating an entry point on the general page. Then I went into my store. And then customized it as my general page, I had my embedded code, my Trustpilot code, and put my product here. Maybe I want another section with eyes, you know, maybe image grades or whatever I want to do, or maybe I just want to show the reviews. And yeah, this is something that if you want to test an idea you can do like literally in two minutes. If I had to do something like Shopify, I would probably have to use an app or maybe another app or, you know, this way it comes down to time. You know, and, and the ease of use the PopUp can have. So, you

Alex Ivanoff  

Now, it's very, very cool.

Dave Pancham  

So like with your beta test or maybe with yourself, you know, I think people like metrics, right? Like What do people like? Have you been able to measure the conversion rate improvement that people have been seeing by using PopUp versus using their Shopify store?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, I mean, we've been in beta for like three weeks, but we have been testing it with our own stores, and the spike in conversion rate has doubled. And the reason is, that the ability to actually test and iterate quickly allows us to do that. But also, because there are just fewer steps to checkout and the least amount of steps to checkout, the easier it is for the customer to go to checkout. Because our front-end architecture doesn't work, we don't have any product pages or links. So everything works on the modal, meaning that the customer doesn't have to click that much, right, he doesn't have to go back to a product and back to maybe reading about the FAQ. Everything is there. 

So you're just going straight to checkout. Also, our checkout right now is a single page and you see it's faster, you just put the data straight away, it's not a multi-step, we're going to have a multi-step. And another thing that we're going to add I think in the next few months is A/B testing. And I think I'm very excited about A/B testing. Because while we know that there are companies, ourselves included that can build customer journeys by using an array of apps and having a hacky solution like you can hack Clickfunnels on top of Shopify, A/B testing is something that today you cannot do, you can't take the test checkout by drag and drop into pages and connecting an arrow like my mom will be able to basically do an A/B testing my daughter, which is 10 should be able to do the testing for sure once. 

You know, it's like you cannot do that right now. Right. So this is like we're really excited about that. And the other things about journey analytics. And this is why we get challenged sometimes like hey, but I'm doing this the Shopify was like, Yeah, sure, you can do this with Shopify, but your analytics, you're using four different apps, your data is so fragmented. So unless you are hooking up your GTM, and then you have to set up the funnels in Google Analytics, and you try to do that, which is not that easy, then you're never gonna know what works and what doesn't. 

So I think like a visual way of looking at your analytics, and also a visual way of doing A/B testing, this kind of opens up like a massive market. And right now they don't have the resources to do A/B testing the time to do it or even set up advanced analytics to actually do this type of thing. And I think today if you don't do that, it's really hard. It's really hard to convert because traffic just costs too much. You know that's, that's, that's the way I feel. It's like, it's now I don't know if dropshipping inside people ask me is dropshipping that? I don't know, to me, Facebook ads, like in 2016, or that? I mean, I don't, maybe I'm wrong. I haven't met anyone that was able to tell me. You're starting today with $1,000. And you can get a high ROAD by the end of the month. I haven't met someone.

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah, I don't think you're wrong.

Matteo Grassi  

No, it's just that CPM is too high. I mean, you have a triple weight that does amazing things. I mean, I know the guys from triple weigh Hydros as well, you know, you have the wicked reports. They're trying to solve these tracking issues. But I think right now you need to convert. So I think that's where we come in.

Alex Ivanoff  

So from the first I think you said three weeks of beta testing so far. What have you learned from how the brands are using this? Like, do you see an average amount of certain journeys that they might build or you know, how they might find themselves building a journey that you didn't expect?

Matteo Grassi  

I was very surprised because I think there is a similarity between PopUp and Notion. For example, Notion is a platform that I think I can use as an example. I sometimes use Lego as an example. But I think Notion is good because you can build a page like a CV, but you can also build full-on help docs for a project management tool that an Enterprise Client would use. And if you give the building blocks if give Lego pieces to someone, someone's going to build the wall if that's all they know, but if someone has the imagination, they can build anything. So we're getting very surprised on what merchants are using PopUp for so we have a guy for instance that is using PopUp for is actually from Italy and is using PopUp for he has I think about 50 Different And entry points. And then he connected, we have Zapier integration. And then he connected the Zapier integration to an affiliate. 

So it does affiliate sites which means it bypasses our checkout. And he sends the order to the affiliate network. So the issue that you had was like, I can actually create journeys visually, you know, easily, he was using WordPress, and then he was hacking up Elementor into it, you know, very, very slow. And then we have like a fashion brand that she's a designer, completely clueless about Facebook ads, never running Facebook ads in her life. All she does is influencer collaboration, she grew her business organic. So she doesn't really understand much about customer journeys. But she's using the fact that you can create multiple PopUp stores because she's using PopUp stores like the secret store. So she created stores, password protected, and then gave the password to her VIP customers. And then she creates these types of secret stores. And then she's creating a store with captured collections. And then we have a guy that is trying to do finance, or we have a guy that is running post-click acquisition campaigns for Google ads. 

So I think modularity gives a lot of flexibility for what you want to do. We have a creator that is a really cool business because right now, people think about creators, but creators are also merchants from time to time, right? So she has her own business where she sells her own merchandise. And then she has a business where she started her courses. And then she has a link in bio, where she says, you know, basically everything else. So she uses PopUp, you know, she has the link in bio and PopUp. And then she has a basic store just where she sells her courses, then she has an entry point where she has all her merchandising. So before she had to use Wix, and then she had Shopify, and also she had like, I think another link in the bio app. And now she's basically just using PopUp for everything. So for some, it's literally performance for others is the ease of use. But I think that flexibility and modularity, I think is our core and I think Notion, Miro as well is another company that we look up to, you know, because Miro is, is a good example. It's like when you go to Miro, I actually learned how to do a brand strategy by using the Microverse. You know, if you look at a bar it's blank because it's a blank thing, right? Yeah, you don't really understand what you can use it for. And then you go and you see all these cool templates, and like, Oh, my God, you can do so much with these things. And I think this is what we're trying, we're doing right now. But this is the ethos of our company. It's like, we give you the building blocks, and then you can build whatever you want.

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah, and it seems like it's taking you to the next level of building blocks and modularity where, you know, WordPress, kind of did it with like pages, and then like, ClickFunnels did it with building the page of like module and drag and drop, and you what you guys are doing is the same idea. But for the journey, the testing the entry points, you know, again, no code, right, all the fascinating things. So I think it's pretty cool. To see platforms like this evolve, where it could become like that foundation, foundation, building, building blocks, you know, sandbox type of thing, you know, kind of cool.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, it was a big bet. Because every commerce platform does the same thing. And every competitor that we check, it's literally, they're trying to do what Shopify is not doing good for now and try to do better. But Shopify is a great company. I mean, I know I'm kind of competing with them, I have to recognize that they're slow, because it's big. But eventually, they're gonna catch up. So when we decided to build PopUp, we were like, We cannot just go against Shopify and try to do Shopify is doing badly, and try to do better. We have to reinvent something, which is a bit better, just like Let's give an alternative to merchants from these blueprints that were in the 90s. Let's give them something else. You know, let's give them the ability to control these blueprints. And yeah, that's all we did. In a similar way, I think Headless is trying to do that. But everyone is like everyone raves about Headless.

Alex Ivanoff  

Which is Headless.

Matteo Grassi  

Headless commerce. So Headless is basically when you are using different copies of different companies like digital, maybe just to the front end, and then you use the back end for Shopify, and then something else, right? So Shopify is hydrogen and oxygen, which are basically their Headless solution. But Headless is a big store user's Headless solution because it gives us this amount of flexibility, but you need to have developers to maintain it, which costs a lot of money. So there is a big amount of companies like a large number of companies trying to compete in the Headless space for a tiny, tiny portion of the market, you know, so that's why we never went kind of the Headless solution first.

Alex Ivanoff  

So let's go down the path of the future here. Because you talked earlier, like, you know, you don't know the future, none of us do. But we know that flexibility is what prepares you for it. A lot of brands right now, you know, we're filming this in October 2022. are, you know, we're post COVID, and post IOS and all the, you know, supply chain, everything. There are challenges. There's, there's macroeconomic challenges, headwinds, whatever you want to call them. And it's making scaling just very, very difficult. Like, where do we go from here? In terms of adapting and preparing for these? What seems like you said there was a golden age for a lot of people. And you know, online brands are competitive. And they're trying to scale like, where do we go from here?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, I think, I think there was like before, it was like, find the product, get customers, and then you try to be the community. And that's what I tried to do, right, you find the right product, and then you try to sell this to the customers, then you build a community. So you can build that retention right? Now, I feel that things have completely been reversed. So it's like you build a community. And then you try to find what your community wants, which means that you're trying to turn your community into customers, and then you find the products. So that's why creatives are that's why the Creator economy is booming right now is because they have the community. And they just don't have the product. And this is why our viceroy decided to hey, let's build an agency to build brands for creators, because we saw the problem, right? We saw, there are people that have a community, but they have no idea that you're a sports person, right? You have a massive community, you are training seven hours a day, six hours a day, and the rest of the time, you probably are on social media, you have a team to do it. 

There's a massive opportunity for you to create a supplement. But once you get the supplement, you have to be the store, you know, fulfillments and formulation, and all of that. So this is where we viceroy came in. And we were like, Why don't we build brands for creators? So I think back to your question. It's like the advice that I give somewhere now. And someone actually asked me this, like three days ago, and he was like, I want to start my own eCommerce store. Where do I start? And I was like, I honestly told them, I said, build a community, build something around you. And she's doing quite well on LinkedIn. And I was like, keep on doing this, you know, it's going to take longer. But once you have a community, then you sell something that is a physical product or a digital product, you're going to monetize going in now without a community or without any traction. It's really, really hard, like literally called paid acquisition, unless you have VC money, or you have investors behind you or you have quite a bit of money to burn before you see profitability. I think it's super hard. I don't I don't know. I mean, maybe there's going to be someone else. I think there's going to be someone else because I think Facebook came in and he was like, oh, it's amazing. But even Google came in and of itself was amazing, right? Maybe I don't know, Netflix is gonna be nice. Maybe Tik Tok is gonna figure out a better way to do ads. I think some paid acquisition platform is going to allow people to acquire traffic cheaply again. By now I don't. I don't see it. I can't find it. I don't know, guys. I can't find it.

Alex Ivanoff  

I'm not betting on it. I mean, it just by nature of like scalability and these platforms, there's like, we're not going through a population boom, worldwide, or our population is not, it's slowing down in terms of its growth, which means the demand of ads is going to, you know, just overall eventually overtake the supply. And that's going to make, you know, ad costs go up. So

Matteo Grassi  

yeah, but also content as well. It's like, I think we were chatting like it briefly before we started recording this right? I was telling you that cold emails don't work the same way. And I think ads as well don't work the same way. I think we've been bombarded by advertising, and people are just getting a bit desensitized about, you know, ads in general. So it's like the content game is just like, much higher than before. Yeah. But to create amazing content. It's, do you have the budget? Do you have incredible ideas? I mean, in 2015, when people started dropshipping they were stealing each other's accounts. It was like, Oh, you're gonna steal the video and then people were like, it was like the easiest way, but so I don't know, I think I think the advice I give to people right now is like trying to build a community. I'm not saying you have to build a 1000 People community, but I didn't start an online business today without, like, no idea what you want to sell or drop shipping. Or like, let's put some money into Facebook advertising. I don't, I really don't unless you have a subscription business. But even that you need money to actually have a product, you know, and build the product. So

Dave Pancham  

What's your advice for an established brand trying to figure out how to pivot?

Matteo Grassi  

In what way do people pivot away from that consumer

Dave Pancham  

Yeah or even direct to consumers, but maybe they're, you know, having the challenge with paid ads, right? CPMs are so high, you know, they're not obviously, IOS 14. And they're like, how do I continue to make my brand successful?

Matteo Grassi  

Well, I think I think, I think, getting the tracking right, and I think triple whale or, you know, those companies are actually trying, and it seems that they're succeeding in a way. But I think it comes down to the products and I think working on repeat customers, like having a product is a one-off. It's like a friend of mine that sells a digital product and is literally a one-off. And he was doing amazing during Facebook times. And now it's not our businesses in viceroy, we are down. All honestly, we will be down 60 to 70%. But we are taking in enough money, we were able to keep the team. We downsized a little bit. But we were able to keep the brands alive. Because we had repeat purchases. So our email list of 150 to 100,000 people was able to actually keep us afloat. And then you maybe do Google ads, right? Google ads are not as scalable as Facebook ads, but it brings enough money, and then you use email to work on potential. So retention, retention, retention, to find memberships or subscriptions, I think that's the way to do it. Your CAC might be $150. But then once you put someone on a subscription, you know that that excuse the huge cost of advertising. But one-off, I think is really really hard right now. Like if you're just selling one product, and people aren't just gonna buy that and they're not going to need anything from you ever again. Then you have obviously brands that don't have one-off products, but then they have huge catalogs right like Fashion Nova or Oasis. But then you have other issues where you have, you're managing 1000s and 1000s of SK use. So if you're starting out, you can start with 1000s of SK use, you have to start with two, or three products max. So my advice is to try to start with two or three products. But try to make sure that you're working on LTV, and not just that I sell for $200. And then you're not gonna need this product ever again. You can be smart about it, right? You can be like a health device but then you are upselling something that can be the pads it can be something that is reusable. Or maybe it's an app connected to the health device that you have a $3 subscription on it. I think there are smart ways of doing this. You know, it's but if you can just do that. I think that's my advice. Yeah.

Alex Ivanoff  

The health one is a good example of a lot of health brands with wearable tech, they sell the hardware and then everyone's pivoting to a software model on the back end. Some of them are pretty overpriced for you to ask me but I think the idea works if you can price it well. Just provide good value.

Matteo Grassi  

Membership as well as a big thing. Dylan Whitman is a I can't say it's a friend but you know, we it's like LinkedIn in France. You know, there's like those people that comment on each other. And you just launched that in the in vitro race which is an app on Shopify is really really successful guy he has been on the Shopify ecosystem for a long time and it's an app is that is a memberships not in the repeater customers it's not often repeated product literally memberships selling memberships. And I think it's it's a great it's a great way of doing maybe you sell a $9 membership and then if you're a member you get you know 30% off of all your product so right you're not really working on products that are repeaters but you're working on membership and doing an added value and and also you're working on the fact that psychologically people want to be part of something. They want to be part of the community because no one wants to be alone. And we learned so I think finding a way to monetize, monetize your, you know, putting people in a subscription and get that repeated customer A repeated purchase. I think that's the best advice I can give to brands.

Alex Ivanoff  

Do you see PopUp facilitating any help in the future? Obviously, you guys are just working on your core product right now. But would it be too far away from the vision for PopUp to one day help with, you know, the driving traffic to the site, the, you know, implementing different types of selling mechanisms like memberships or subscriptions to a brand. I mean, like Shopify is going through right now. Because, like their stories, they are awesome. But like, those brands can't drive traffic as much as well as they used to. And you know, people are failing. And that's why Shopify is kind of like, in the media all the time, like, oh, you know, struggling, do you see PopUp going that route?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, I think we're going the route of the platform slash ecosystem, right, which I think is simulating what Shopify did. That's why Shopify, Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and for commerce, and all of them, they're not Shopify, because they were able to create an amazing ecosystem around apps and developers and agencies etc. So I think, as being an end to end eCommerce platform is a big challenge. But at the same time it is also a big opportunity. So in terms of membership, subscriptions, and love this, if nothing relates to the customer journey, we're not going to be as natively, I think everything that relates to the customer journey is going to be internal. But if someone wants subscription, if someone wants, you know, memberships, or you know, like, you know, invigorate that up once our public API goes goes out, and we have enough merchants, for apps to actually take time to develop on us, that's where the browser we're going to, also is developed very similarly to Shopify on the backend as well. Allowing using the same code structure, allowing, if you have an upper Shopify, moving to PopUp is going to be fairly easy. 

But the thing Shopify dominates is like, literally, they never had a competitor, there's no competition to me. I seem to recommend now people say, hey, go to Shopify. And also we will probably be thinking about maybe we can be used in conjunction with Shopify, we literally build an action that sends an order to to Shopify, I think commerce is becoming so complex, that thinking that like Shopify is going to be your solution to all your problems, is kind of either thing I think is true. That's why we were like, maybe we can be an alternate alternative solution, or maybe work together. You know, just like in real life, right? I did that at their main store, but then they have the small PopUp store for whatever they're trying to do, it's not really different from what we see every day. And I think that's why we call the platform PopUp as well. Not because we like the temporary thing, or because we found that PopUp store or this kind of dynamic, ever changing moving way of approaching comprehension.

Alex Ivanoff  

So you mentioned earlier in the show that one of the challenges of using a lot of different apps in connection with each other is you lose data, you can't control everything going back and forth, it's not very seamlessly integrated. Do you plan let's say if popups allow Shopify apps or other developers to add on to PopUp to like, enforce that, that the ecosystem means intact, and that the data doesn't get lost?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, 100% I think I think it's like, we're still figuring out so I guess the whole ecosystem is still very early days. But I think we are definitely considering we're definitely considering this in in our roadmap.

Alex Ivanoff  

Cool, awesome. I guess the only question I have left regarding popup is what would you say, as you're launching this beta is your biggest challenge.

Matteo Grassi

Um, I think the biggest challenge is that. And I think I had this when I was working in Shopify, as well as a merchant Success Manager and Corey had the same thing when he was working as a launch engineer. And as a launch engineer, you're basically working on migrations. So in one way we do see, as going after merchants that understand what they are testing is understanding what customer journey is first, right? That doesn't mean that if you want to start an online store, you want to start on PopUp, you can do that. I mean, our plan literally starts at $9. So it is a very affordable solution. But in our go to market strategy, we can't just go, hey, everyone wants to sell online. Let's just try to get everyone right. So we have to pick. And I think if you are processing, if you're sending traffic to your store and buying traffic, you understand customer journeys from day one, right? It's like yeah, I don't need to explain the product that much. But the biggest challenge on this is that merchants like that Visit right now they're on Black Friday. And they do have AK solutions, meaning that they do love PopUp, you know, value proposition and they do like the fact that they can create these customer journeys, but it's still in a way migration. So it's to activate them and get them to use the platform and move away from their IQ solution. I think that's the challenge, which is basically a challenge of every commerce buffer. And literally, I had people in Magento and Bigcommerce, and I hope no one's invested in it. I tested Bigcommerce. And I'm like, I don't know what people do in Bigcommerce. But I had people in Magento and Bigcommerce who were like, I'm not moving to Shopify Plus, even though I know it is better for me, because I can't even think about the migration, maybe let's talk next year, right? So I think it's like, it's not that your solution is not good, or they don't love it. It's just like, it just takes time. 

You know, they need to have that space right now to do it. So we launched the beta, October. That's kind of the busiest time for eCommerce right now. So a lot of people are like, oh, yeah, I started in January. And I always say, I've been a SaaS founder for two years, I've been immersed in for 15, I probably will say the same thing. Just let me go with my crappy solution. It works, right? It's kind of clunky. It's like, it's like a car, right? You know, like when you have the car that installed crates, but you kind of get the hang of it, and you know, to tweak it, and you're like, oh, I have to change the car, I have to figure everything out again, you know, it's better. But you're like, I need time to just get there. And I think that's the challenge. But on the other hand 80% of the merchants are bringing in, they're really keen to actually use the platform, and they're already using it. So. So I'm not saying that's a big problem. But I've noticed this and it's understandable. 

And I think January February, which is kind of the lower month for eCommerce, is going to be a period where some of the merchants will have more time to use the platform because our data is not coming into PopUp and passing the platform. We don't really want that to be because it's not really something that benefits each of us. It's more what you're trying to do. So setting up a goal together. And that can be like, I want to increase my conversion rate because I'm running Facebook ads. And I want to create plus click acquisition journeys for my Facebook ads, or I want to launch in a different country, right? So we set up a goal together, and then PopUp will serve that goal. And then we see if we have achieved this goal together or not. So this is why I think our data is really gold based and is time based as well. Like it's not just like, hey, come in. That's the platform to play around for like two days and then drop out. Right. So there's a thing is, is a challenge. But it's also because we have expectations and we are trying to get as much data as we can. This is the whole point of the data not really acquisition or making money right now.

Alex Ivanoff

Can you expand about, you know, launching a different country?

Matteo Grassi

Yeah, so this is actually very cool, because I worked in internationalization for such a long time. And I can talk about how to expand to a different country for hours. But I do like the short version. When I was at both viceroy and my previous Ecommerce Accelerator, 80% of our revenue, believe it or not, didn't come from us. He actually was actually in Germany, Brazil, Italy, France, UK as well. But literally in countries where we didn't speak the language. So expanding in different countries, internationalizing has always been a big, big strategy for us. Now Shopify is going the route of one store translation, and you go on to checkout and the checkout then it's a multiple choice checkout, which means that you're converting the currency. Right, based on where the person is coming from. The issue is that I don't know if they tell you or not, but the issue there is like they do charge you 1.5% Right. So if you run the math, if you're making let's say you're converting $10,000 a month, that's not much right. $10,000 a month, there's already $150 That you're paying in transaction fees. If you create Another Shopify store and you change the currency, you're not going to pay $150. So that's what happened to us. It's like, you have all these stores in different countries in different languages, because you want to have the checkout in different currencies. And this is like issue number one. In addition, number two, Australia, US, Australia, Summer, US is winter, then you have issue number three, which is Valentine's Day in Brazil is in June.

If you try to use stripes, you'll get a drop of 72%. You have to use Ebanks because people pay with bullae. So if you're going to Denmark, you have to use Mali, which is another payment solution. In Germany. 80% of people pay with PayPal 20%, use stripes, and then they have so forth, which is this other famous solution. So this all one store in different countries to me, doesn't work. So as always, if you really want to localize and really be successful in a country, the German customer needs to come into the German store and think, Oh, this is a German store, not like some people living in Italy. Some Italian living in Ireland, launching a store in Germany is like this guy, right? Because the store, as you know, the banners are in a certain way, the following our calendar, everything is localized, you know. So think localization, if you want your ad to convert, it needs to be end to end. So this is why we've been Papa was like, let's have multiple stores in different countries. And this is the way to approach a localization not like one store with translation files. I mean, Shopify, this is a super value as well. I mean, you have like this translation file you have to use. I think there was an app called What was it called? Anyways, there was an app, but then he was messing up your liquid code. 

So when you are basically breaking up everything as well. But like, even though you want to code level, you can actually make it work that is seamless and works it just to me, it just doesn't work on it just you need. You need to leverage the calendar, you need to leverage the promotion, the worship online, that Germany for instance, this is a perfect example. Germans love the single page checkout, right? 

Germany hates it, the Germans want to have the multi-step where they understand everything, because the trust level is very lower than is much lower than the Americans. So yeah, that's my two cents on the local. I was very successful. I mean, we do. We did 2.5 billion with native ads in Germany. Yeah. And I'm not German. So I did 6 million. We were the highest ranking store in Brazil, dropping shipping from China for six months. And we were a bunch of Italians doing this. So I'm not just saying, oh, yeah, because it's my opinion, because I tested it out. And it just works. 

Because when we launched in Brazil, I remember I still remember the saying, I was like, why don't you in Brazil, we launch with stripe, and I was like, oh my god is like something is wrong with the checkout because we add like a 12.5% Add to Cart and 0.5 on on checkout. And I was like, What's wrong, and then I went to stripe and basically 70% of the transactions were declined. And that's where basically someone was like, you cannot use those because stripping us for a nickel acquires you need to use a local payment gateway. So we went with the banks, which is a local payment gateway. So they, if you're paying with a car, you're paying with Brazilian cars using Brazilian banks, so tax rates are higher, but also Brazilians they will go later. 

So basically you're paying now and then they go into the post office and pay with cash. So you're cashing in the money now, but then they come in 10 days later, right? And 40% of people play with that. So if you don't have that option, 40% of customers just leave. So this is where you know, my mistakes and stuff. Allow me to understand how kind of

Alex Ivanoff  

How did you know that you were the top-ranked store in Brazil at the time? Like were you just looking at like.

Matteo Grassi  

Because they told us.

Alex Ivanoff  

Was Shopify telling you?

Matteo Grassi  

No EBanks. EBanks was, because the bank is the biggest payment actually in Latin. So they have all the big eCommerce stores. They also have Uber, they have Spotify and stuff. Yeah. We even got invited to Brazil. We were like, Oh, come to Brazil for our conference. And it was crazy. It was just like Uber Shopify, and it was like, Oh, this guy at the store and I felt so embarrassed because it's like we're dropping shipping from China, you know, and we're, like, complaint rates are crazy high but sure.

Alex Ivanoff  

That's funny.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, A Brazilian story was Yeah, Brazilians though was was interesting, interesting story,

Dave Pancham  

Do you think PopUp has an opportunity to kind of, like, really help accelerate global commerce?

Matteo Grassi  

I think so . I think our multi store approach is new. I mean, I haven't seen other platforms during the multi store approach. Shopify is now just the chain, like just closing the partnership with globally, which is a company that I know very well, they use that I used before. But again, you have 80% of conventional fees, right. It's a lot of money. I think it's like it comes down to money. It's like if you're charging to convert money, you know, people are gonna say how much, how much, how cheaper, it is just having different stores in different countries. We're thinking about proper payments as well, because I think payments is the biggest hurdle that a lot of people have. We know that Shopify makes 900 million a year in payments, and 300 million on subscription. So we know that Shopify makes money on Shopify payments, and Shopify payments, its stripe connects, meaning that they don't have their own payment solution, they have taken a small cut from stripe. So we can do stripe connection tomorrow, if we want. There isn't why we're not doing it, because the infrastructure that you have to put through needs to be cut. It's expensive and complex. So unless we process a certain amount of GMV, it doesn't make any sense for us to do right now. But we're looking down the line. But one thing that we want to do is the same thing that Shopify does with Stripe, and we are going to do Stripe probably. We can do it with the banks in Brazil, or we can do with African payment solutions, right? So if you're coming from PopUp anywhere in the world, you are subscribing to Papa payments. But then if you're from Africa, then we do a partnership with mobile money or if he's in Brazil, with the banks, etc. So we kind of take a cut on everything, but then you're working with local payment acquired this is kind of very much in the future. Future. But I think our biggest challenge is checkouts. But it's also our biggest opportunity. So we need to leverage this as much as we can.

Alex Ivanoff  

I knew Shopify made a lot of money in payments. I didn't realize it was three quarters of the revenue.

Matteo Grassi  

Oh, yeah. None of the million. Yeah, I don't I don't. I know the data. Yeah. But it took them like Shopify payments came out in 2014, 15. It took them quite a bit of time, like 10 years to do it. Because I know, we spoke to some payment providers and things like that, it costs quite a bit of money. So you need to be processing a certain amount of GMV to be able to have like 0.51% cut on your transaction. Otherwise, you're just basically losing money.

Alex Ivanoff  

And you know, you're talking about like, yeah, for one example, 8% conversion, I mean, some brands, their margins are not naturally very high percentage, a huge chunk of profit.

Matteo Grassi  

But right now Shopify is 1.5 on the multicurrency, chocobo. Either 1.5. It's, it's, that's, that's the math that we ran, when we were running out to consumer, we were processing like probably $50,000, let's say, you know, some of our brands were doing like a million a month, right, but let's say you're doing less than 50k, 60k. And half of that is converted into, let's say, GBP. You know, you have $30,000 converting to GBP . 1.5 cents is already under $500. If you copy your store, double in you and you set the currency GBP. So basically the circle is GBP. And the checkout is GBP. And you're not paying any transaction, you don't pay any conversion fees, right. So it's going to be cheaper, but then it's complicated. That's what we add, then you're doubling the apps, you're doubling the store. So one of our stores had like nine different stores. We have one for Italy, one for Germany, one for France, one for Europe, one for US, one for Australia, one, you know it was crazy. And one time you have like the complexity goes off the window. But also another case for us was working with the Creator economy. This is another thing that I can talk about for hours, but I'm gonna give it like a small, small, small tech. There are a lot of these LinkedIn bio apps that you see right the issue creators like if a creator makes any money is managed by an agency. If a creator makes no money, then if you have a link in nio app that works on transaction fees that you're not going to make any money. If you are managed by an agency, an agency is not going to use your link in bio with crappy eCommerce functionality. They need to have integration, they need to avoid them. Management CMS and this is why companies like Live Nation, which is done on Shopify, have 150 Shopify stores. For 150 artists, the issue there is that you have 150 Shopify stores. So imagine you want to change the footer. Yeah, login and logout in 150 stores right? So this is where the idea can miss, like Fairbury man for engine agency on PopUp, you can have 100 stores and then you want one change to be deployed in all the stores. Right? So that multistore made a lot of sense. Now, I personally think that maybe in three or four years time Shopify is gonna come up with something like this. So I don't think our big USP is the movie store and I think it's more like the customer journey. But still, when we built it was like, let's give

Alex Ivanoff  

Your investor. You're Not You shouldn't be so worried about your investors watching. You should be so worried about Shopify watching.

Matteo Grassi  

Look, I love Shopify. I think if I pissed them off, someone would ask me `` what's, what's what's what's, what will be the big achievements? Now, because they're very passionate, I call him passionate, but they're very protective about their checkouts. Right. And you see how they've been slowly closing any checkout third party checkout apps. I don't know if you guys were familiar with Checkout activity and heard of checkout tax? No, it was basically yeah. But do you remember like a few years ago, there were like few companies that were basically bypassing Shopify checkout? So you were basically started in Shopify, and then you were redirected to another checkout that maybe you could customize? Or maybe you were doing upsell. And checkout tax was one of them. I don't know if they're still alive. I don't I don't actually know how to check. But Shopify, then in January 2021, they closed the API on the third party checker, meaning that if you have a third party checkout, you cannot you cannot check out on Shopify anymore, because they make manual checkout. So we are going to piss them off because we are going to steal their check out. But I mean,

Alex Ivanoff  

There's other apps that send orders back to Shopify, like yours?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, it's up to I've gone down there. Now they don't because of the API, so the way we built it in Shopify, but the way we build it is like, we don't have an app on Shopify, we send an order via, like it's calling an action. So it's a kind of a private app, meaning that we can do an order thing, we shall be fine without having installed Shopify, meaning the Shopify cannot close their public API, because that's public. Right? So we built it in a way because we knew that we were never gonna be able to use a shopify app.

Alex Ivanoff  

Makes sense.

Dave Pancham  

Is there still any risk there? By somehow, trying to figure out how to stop that from happening.

Matteo Grassi  

No, because the thing is, like, they will have to close the Yeah, they will have no, it's a public API. So I mean, unless they don't allow merchants to create private apps anymore, which is impossible. It's like, it's literally like you're killing. You're killing merchants. Because, you know, merchants need to have private apps. I mean, it's like, you have, yeah, so unless they do that, which is impossible. They're never gonna be able to do it. I think before they consider this, they probably cannot advise buyers or maybe create. They're going to buy Popup.com, which we couldn't buy because the guy asked us for like $700k, I think.

Alex Ivanoff  

Really? Wow.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, for PopUp.com. Yeah, so we bought PopUp.store which was a bit more affordable. But on the Shopify side, I think they are evolving. I think they are moving their thinking, right, I see that their way of thinking online store now is becoming a channel. Right? So they are starting to think about modularity, right, they saw the opportunity with a link in bio, so they created the link pop in our online store. So when someone asks me how Shopify would compete with you, I would say they will not change their current platform because they can't, they will just create Shopify journeys, or whatever it is, right, which is another product that people can use on the site. But for them to create something like this, they have to do the same thing that they did with Link tree, meaning that they have to see that there is a substantial market share that has been eaten up by LinkedIn, or any other link in bio apps, right? I mean, I know Alex, Alex is one of our investors in an angel and You know, it's not really nice what happened to him? I? Maybe it's just my personal opinion, but I thought it was. I thought it wasn't great on them. You know, they closed the partnership with Shopify. And then a week later they come up with Link pub, which is basically all new chat. I was like, Yeah, I got to meet him at Web Summit in Lisbon. We chatted about it. But overall, I think they are trying to dominate commerce, which, which, which, which makes a lot of sense to me. But I don't know what the future of Shopify is. Because I know that the mind is in the checkout, right? So for them online stores and this type of stuff are not they're not making money. They're right. They're making money on the infrastructure. So if I was Shopify, I would just bet on that now, infrastructure, for payments, checkout, payments, loans, all of that. That's what I would do,

Alex Ivanoff  

which I mean, we know he's the right guy. We were talking about that. I think the first time you were talking with you how Shopify is going very horizontal, and not very vertical. I mean, they have so many, like you just said, like filament, international shipping, currency exchange loans, all these things. And now they're cutting jobs. So it's like, you know, how are you going to improve the infrastructure if you're going so wide and cutting jobs?

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, but I think it's also when you are such a big company and also adopt, right? You you come up with an idea that you think is good, like they come up with Shopify market and shop pay, and they always come up with new things, your things, but from the moment that you started a year, and you do mass adoptions within your, within your network, which is now 2 million merchants, it takes a lot of time. And if you are pumping out ideas every three months or four months, merchants cannot keep up. I literally speak to Shopify merchants every day, because we're literally targeting mainly Shopify merchants, because Shopify, you know, PopUp can be used in conjunction with Shopify, right now, only wish Shopify standalone if you want, but in conjunction, so obviously, if your Shopify merchants, you know, it seems it's a better fit. And most of them, they've not yet used a lot of features that have been deployed six or seven months ago, and ask him why it's like, I don't know, I've never heard of it. I heard of it. But then there was not much going on. And it's like from, from your ideas to adoption, it takes a lot of time, especially because you started with these 90s blueprints. And now you're just trying to add things more. So I think what we're trying to do, we want to start already with a platform for the future, right? And then adding slowly, you know, but we're building a platform today. I mean, Shopify built the platform. You know, 14 years ago, 16 years ago, so that's what Toby and the guys were like, what we're trying to solve. If they were building it today, they would probably build something like we did, or slightly different, but similar.

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah, I agree. So Matteo, as we begin to wrap up here, one of the things we always like to do, and ask all of our guests is we have our signature question. If you could sit in a room with, you know, a bunch of mentors, important to you once every morning, to help guide you throughout your day, that could be alive or dead? Who would they be?

Matteo Grassi  

So yeah, I should be thinking about it. Yeah. So there'll be, you know, Justin Walsh, either you probably don't know he is a creator or LinkedIn. But it's just one of the most amazing teachers and creators that I have encountered in my life. And he helped me so much with my writing with my content creation. And I love how he's able to create such simple frameworks, you know, and this content that gives you so much value. And it's so simple, so easy to read. And literally, like, I just read it, and I'm like, God, this is cool. And I want to learn more. And this never happens to me. Cool. So I love him. And then Warren Buffett, not because I like him that much, but because I think all ages, but I think people that I think are a certain age, they have a lot to tell you. Right? And you know, I know he talks really badly about crypto, we have very different opinions with him and certain things. But I love to sit down with someone like him, you know. And the third one will be Napoleon because, I mean, he's dead. But I think it's been one of the most interesting characters in history, especially as a conqueror and how he was able to rally up, you know, All the countries and become an emperor and yeah, I think I think that's just for Nepal.

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah. I haven't heard of Justin Walsh. But I'm just looking at him now and definitely checking them out. I mean, very, it's very unique.

Matteo Grassi  

He's really, really good. He's really, really good. Yeah. And he's, he's actually creating frameworks to write online and to write posts and to write content. And I've been using this framework and I grew my LinkedIn from, I started in 1000. Followers. I now have almost 20,000. And I have to say, it has to do with Justin as well, yeah. Because, yeah, I took his course. And I mean, it is my life. This is my story. Of course, I talk about myself, but you really helped me a lot on things like, how to write and how to actually craft my things. And I did see results. I'm not just saying I like to grow, because from 1000 to 20,000, in one year, you have to check them out. So thanks.

Alex Ivanoff  

That's awesome. Cool, man. Well, this has been awesome. You know, just hearing from you and hearing about the innovative kind of sense you have over commerce and now eCommerce like going from old school retail into eCommerce and relating those things. And just overall your creative abilities in building PopUp is really awesome. super inspirational. I can't wait to use it one day on one of my brands. And and hear from

Dave Pancham  

Matteo, what's the next big milestone for PopUp?

Matteo Grassi  

I think the big milestone would be, like 100 merchants, simple as that. 100 merchants using the platform. I'm not saying 100 merchants on the platform, because we already have 40. But I will say 100 merchants, 100 case studies, right 100 merchants using the platform and saying this is cool. And for us it's not just them saying this is cool, it's taking them away from other platforms, including Shopify, either taking them away completely, which might take some time, but maybe taking some of the revenue away. Meaning that I had my Shopify store, but I'm running all my Facebook ads, or my Google ads or my influence and collaboration on PopUp, right. So my 3040 50 60% of revenue runs on problems, that will be our biggest minds and finding our initial product market fit. I mean, it takes years to find product market fit. But the first 100 merchants will be the big milestone, people using the product. I mean, we've been building it for so long, it is a really complex product, because we could have gone the route of the app. And we thought about it a few times, you know, was like maybe we just build an app where you can build customer journeys. And then basically, just before you check out your checkout on Shopify, that's that. That's it. But then that was basically, you know, invalidating our whole unique selling proposition which is building customer journeys end to end. Because to me, like, what is the difference between a store and a showroom is the tale, right? So if you don't check out, you're not an eCommerce, your showroom. So if Shopify is on the checkout, then I'm not an eCommerce platform. I'm a front-end developer. Journey builds that architecture now. We could have validated the idea of the customer journey quicker meaning that we probably could have launched PopUp a year ago, we went more like the risky, dangerous, you know, risky route of building an eCommerce platform and when but, but I remember talking to Cody about this, like on a call. Like, I remember thinking, I was on the call with him, and it was like, This is gonna be too big. Maybe we just Yeah, and the call finished. And we were like, Okay, let's not do it. Let's do something else. And I think we were thinking about maybe, actually, we think about the content platform where you can actually create content, you subscribe and every 30 days, you have 30 pieces of content. So we have different ideas and stuff like that. And then I remember like we were brainstorming all these other alternatives because we gave up on the idea of building this eCommerce platform. And then he called me and then and then we had this moment of silence and we said, but duty, are you really passionate about it? I was like no, I'm not really care. It's like let's go for it. Let's relax though let's see how it goes. And then that's it. Because we, we, we knew it was going to be so big. But then we were like, what? We have to lose interest, try it out. If we have to go, let's go back. Let's try. And then that's what we did. And it was before even considering investment that was like, just take our money, I think a bunch of developers, which was crazy. But that's what allowed us to actually be ready for what's happening right now within the VC world, which is when we raise money, the market is way over inflated. But we always have this bootstrap mentality of like, let's grow the team. But let's grow it. Let's not overspend. Let's not get the developer X, Apple X Shopify developer that costs 250k A year, let's get you know, the people that we can afford, as if it was our own money. So we kept that mentality all the time. Even though the market was like, Yeah, hire the scientists don't worry. Yes, tennis fans, fans, fans. And now they're like, why have you arrived? Maybe that was the best approach. Or should it so we always kept this couple of couple, you know, type of mentalities. You know,

Alex Ivanoff  

I think it's going to 100 brands, I think it will come quick. And then hopefully, we can have you on again for the 1000 brand celebration.

Matteo Grassi  

Yeah, give me Sorry, I quit. I live just like, if people are raising money. FYI, it's not your money. I know, they come into your bank account, and you know, you get some equity away, which you don't see. So it feels like oh my god, people are giving you money for something that doesn't exist, right. But it's the investors money, right? So literally your money too. You know, so you have to treat them wisely. You can't just overspend because you know, some venture capital decided to give three 4 million. I mean it's your money so you know if you give equity away so make sure I know founders that literally accident with like no money because it just burned equity. Like that, because they were like I just want money, it doesn't matter. Just 30%, 40%, it doesn't matter because you don't see that equity is just like a number on a cap table in the spreadsheet. Right. But so this might advise anyone raising money right now.

Alex Ivanoff  

Yeah. Very helpful. Cool, man. Before we hop off working everyone finds you and obviously we talked about PopUp. Go to PopUp.store to check it out. Get on the waitlist? And then and then how do we find you?

Matteo Grassi  

I'm on the linktree slash, and actually use material which is my name. It was taken because I tried to find Matteo, it was taken. So I decided to use my hands on matteowastaken everywhere. Like Twitter, LinkedIn. Linktree is always the same. Matteo was taken. I was thinking yeah,

Alex Ivanoff  

Just so you know. It's the right one in his bio. My mom says I was special.

Matteo Grassi  

She does say that.

Alex Ivanoff   

It's awesome. Well, thank you again, so much, Matteo. And for everyone listening, check them out, checkout PopUp. And if you're looking for more episodes of Mission Control, check it out at GoRocketCart.com Check out what we do. And yeah, follow us on social media and come back for next time. Thanks again. So much, Matteo.

Matteo Grassi  

Thanks guys. Bye bye.

Victoria Petersen
Helping businesses navigate their growth to the upper echelons of eCommerce domination.
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