Reza Khadjavi is the co-founder of Shoelace Technologies, together with his friends Alex and David. The three of them met at a company called Hubba, in Toronto, where their daily interactions fostered aspirations for building something together. Their individual strengths—experience with startups, programming expertise, and financial acumen—served as the foundation for their collective ingenuity.
“We didn’t know what we were building, but we had a lot of trust in each other, that we had the right ingredients for a founding team,” Reza says, describing their decision to make the leap from being workers to founders.
Their initial foray was an online assistant that helped with creating blogs, which evolved into an idea to help small businesses cross-promote one another. During the creation of the latter idea, the team found that they were doing a lot work helping businesses with retargeting. After figuring that retargeting was a viable concern for small-business and an automated solution would be well-received, the three of them began focusing their efforts in that direction.
This idea would grow into the application called Shoelace.
Shoelace is both the name of Reza’s company and its flagship application. Reza describes the app as “an intelligent assistant that helps ecommerce merchants launch retargeting campaigns easily”. It automates processes that are vital to retargeting campaigns by completing these tasks and providing an approval prompt before anything goes live.
Particularly useful is the automation of pixels, which are bits of code used to track user behavior and adjust targeting and retargeting ads accordingly. Shoelace’s automation negates the need for third-party dashboards and the understanding of HTML code associated with managing pixels. It also synchronizes product catalogs, which is imperative for e-commerce management, as inventories and the product listings require constant updates to maintain their accuracy.
When asked about the difference between his application and similar competitors, Reza states that unlike the more complex platforms geared toward digital marketers, Shoelace is tailored specifically toward those who are running their own business.
“Rather than give you a tool that grants unlimited control, and includes some smart things, but also includes mistakes,” Reza explained, “Shoelace doesn’t allow you to make any mistakes.”
It eliminates the possibility of wasting money reaching out to unresponsive audiences by continually tracking the effectiveness of campaigns, and then sending an automated e-mail the business owner if a campaign isn’t working.
Shoelace is currently available as an application on Shopify, with expected expansion to other platforms forthcoming. It currently holds a perfect 5 out of 5 rating for 20 reviews on the site, with consumers raving about its exceptional simplicity and customer service.
In today’s discussion with Reza, we cover the emergence of Shoelace from a simple idea to an application to a business that helps startup businesses manage their ad campaigns effectively. We discuss the concept of retargeting for those who may be unfamiliar, for which Reza provides a useful layman’s explanation. Throughout the discussion, Reza provides insight into the potentially daunting prospect of leaving a growing organization to form one’s own enterprise. He elaborates on the reasoning behind the decisions, some of the obstacles encountered in the early stages, and how he and his co-founders overcame them.
Managers of consumer-facing applications should find his approach appealing, as we discussed the method of beginning with “the talent” first and coming up with “the idea” later. Shoelace is one of the success stories from this model, which operates in contrast to the idea-first approach considered the safest route by most startup companies.
We also covered some of the challenges Reza faced, including the first few months of creeping doubt and navigating disagreements with his partners. He covered ways to get through the long days, especially in situations where organizational roles haven’t been clearly defined.
Reza discusses the trial of petitioning investors for funding, a step that most startups will have to take, describing the task as a “life-threatening challenge”, and goes into how he and his partners got through it. He also emphasized the usefulness of accelerator programs, or seed accelerators, for startup companies, as well as the value of inquiring with other startup founders who may have prior experience with obstacles you encounter.
Toward the end of the interview, you could hear Reza’s excitement as he discussed Shoelace’s ability to scale up from small stores to larger stores in the future, and being able to offer simplicity that other platforms can’t.
Reza provided invaluable insight into the process of managing a startup, expressing many lessons that are sure to resonate with fledgling CEOs as they begin the challenging journey toward prominence. Enjoy!
Links Links Links
- Official site: http://shoelace.com/
- Shopify Page: https://apps.shopify.com/shoelace-retargeting
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/tryshoelace
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tryshoelace