A Q&A with Ometria co-founder and CEO Ivan Mazour. The London-based startup, which offers an all-in-one ecommerce intelligence solution, announced in late March the completion of a $1.6 million Angel funding round. Investors include Alastair Mitchell, Andy McLoughlin, Tim Jackson, Phil Wilkinson, Guy Westlake, Sean Cornwell, Ned Cranborne, Shan Drummond and Elisabeth Ling. It was founded early last year by Mazour, CFO Djalal Lougouev, COO James Dunford Wood and CTO Alastair James. The team has raised a total of $2.21 million in outside funding to date.
SUB: Please describe Ometria and your primary innovation.
Mazour: Ometria is a unified ecommerce intelligence platform; a simple-to-integrate and easy-to-use software solution which allows online retailers to leverage data to maximize the profitable growth of their business. We’ve developed a highly-scalable infrastructure that stores every single aspect of a customer’s interaction with a retailer, and allows it to be queried and acted on in real-time, while also retaining the ability to integrate in one click with major ecommerce platforms.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Mazour: Our target market is retailers who sell online—these could be pure-play ecommerce retailers or multichannel ones. We’re an enterprise software company, so Ometria isn’t made for the long-tail, but for those mid-sized fast-growing companies who are still low on time and resources, but who understand how important it is to leverage data to optimize customer acquisition, customer retention, product merchandising, and other aspects of their business.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Ometria from the competition?
Mazour: At the moment, the problem we solve is being solved by using Google Analytics and Excel. Information is constantly exported and imported, aggregated and connected. Every single retailer we have spoken to has been doing this manual process, repeating it every week, and still not getting exactly what they need. Web analytics solutions were never designed for retail, unlike our tool, which from the very beginning has been focused on it. This allows us to offer instant integration, a product that works out-of-the-box without any customization, and specific functionality that immediately provides a return to the retailer.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $1.5 million in Angel funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Mazour: London is a great place to be building a technology business at the moment. I’m extremely proud of the Angels who participated in this round. We set out to raise funds only from value-add investors, and ended up with a group with huge experience in ecommerce, retail, and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). They’ve already been extremely helpful in accelerating our growth as a business. I’d say London has now reached a stage where there is a significant number of successful technology entrepreneurs who are helping grow the community by investing and advising early-stage businesses like ours.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds, and do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Mazour: We’re currently 12 people, and will grow to 15 in the short term, and to 20 within the next year. Our core focus is the product—we are constantly iterating, and will continue to do so to ensure Ometria is absolutely everything that the retailer needs. We will continue to grow sales and bring on board new retailers alongside this, and expect to take our next round, which will be institutional, next year.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Ometria? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Mazour: I’d say there was a moment of serendipity, but not to do with the idea. I trained as a mathematician at Cambridge, and in 2011 went back to do another year, with a focus on statistics, probability, and computational mathematics. I wanted to improve my skills in order to start a technology company, having started a number of businesses in other sectors previously. After analyzing the technology market broadly, I decided on a B2B SaaS business, with a product that focuses on data.
I already had a great co-founder from my previous business, Djalal Lougouev, who is now our CFO at Ometria, and started networking to add more co-founders with technical experience. Having spent many months attending tech meetups, it was actually at a very non-technical event that I luckily ran into our now COO James Dunford Wood, who had worked with our now CTO Dr. Alastair James for several years, building an ad-tech company with a product that focused on highly-personalized product-led retargeting. Between the four of us, we narrowed down the broad vision into a clear product, and launched Ometria in early-2013.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Mazour: The four founders of Ometria are all serial entrepreneurs, so it was a smooth process. We drew up a shareholders agreement, set out vesting for the founders, all invested some money to start the company, and started to build the product. The very first thing we did was hire our first employee, Ed Gotham, who is now our head of ecommerce, and an extremely valuable member of the team. He’s been with us through this whole journey, even before the company existed, and helped us identify exactly what aspects of our product we would focus on in our first MVP.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Mazour: We had a few requirements for this. It had to have a .com, it had to have something to do with data, and it had to sound good in every language, especially all the European ones. We’re a multi-cultural, Europe-focused company, and we didn’t want to end up with something that was hard to say in French, or Russian, say. ‘Ometria’ fit the bill perfectly.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Mazour: Finding great people has been both a challenge and a joy. We’ve got this right a few times now, and I couldn’t imagine running the company without those people here. We’ve also had to let a few people go, and that’s been a big lesson for all of us. At the moment we are still scaling slowly, and have the luxury of choosing carefully. When, next year, we’ll be hiring several people each month, I foresee this becoming even more of a challenge.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Mazour: We are a SaaS company—our customers are paying between £400 and £1,500 a month to use the Ometria platform. We add new customers each month, so our revenues grow all the time.
SUB: What are your goals for Ometria over the next year or so?
Mazour: The goal, as it will be every year, is to a build a team of exceptional people, all aligned around our mission—creating the ultimate platform that lets retailers leverage their data to maximize profitable growth.