While working her way up to high school graduation, Opaper founder Joan McIntosh runs an online bakery. “I wake up at 3 a.m., 4 a.m., go to a commercial kitchen and go door to door, deliver food or get groceries.” After graduation, McIntosh’s professional life clearly became more high-tech – she was senior product manager for machine learning and data platforms at Streetlight Data and later Lacuna Technologies. On a return trip to Southeast Asia (McIntosh was born and raised in Indonesia), she observed the rise of social commerce or people selling via social media like Instagram and WhatsApp, and was surprised to see how similar to all the handwork she does. launched her online bakery years earlier.
“Everything is just the way I do it,” says McIntosh. “I was confused after working in technology for many years, like why is no one improving the process? Why is it still so manual? Why would you send payment to merchant and then proof of payment like screenshot of bank transfer? ”
While at Streetlight Data and Lacuna, McIntosh worked on products that optimize pricing, logistics and supply chains, or “make sure things are moving the right way, at the right pace, at the right pace,” she said. speak. Opaper was launched to give social media sellers the same convenience. After building a minimal viable product that would allow social commerce merchants to create an online store, Opaper began referring users and raising an oversubscription seed fund of $1 million.
Investors include Precursor Ventures, Ratio Ventures, OnDeck, and angel investor Jay Eum, managing partner of GFT Ventures; Bora Chung, chief experience officer at Bill.com, and Frank Nawabi, chief executive officer at Google and founder of Tenor, were acquired by Google last year. It then built a completely remote team of 27 people in less than a year.
Opaper is now available on Android and iOS, and just four months after launch, nearly 19,000 sellers in 100 cities have joined.
It targets small suppliers, usually one or two people, who have a total merchandise value of about $2,000 to $5,000 and want to scale up, but can’t because they’re busy answering questions. and take orders via WhatsApp. “They need time to focus on their product and think about how they can have an offline store or maybe the franchise business,” says McIntosh. “Those are the types of customers that we focus on more and more these days. Not someone has three stores. That someone has started and is shouting “how to expand, how to expand?”
While Opaper doesn’t target any particular sector, McIntosh says the majority of the businesses it works with are food and beverage companies, including those that want to avoid commissions. high of third-party delivery applications. Opaper is integrated with 13 different carriers that sellers can offer to their buyers, as well as e-wallets and bank transfers for payments.
For customers, Opaper means they don’t have to text the seller back and forth, choose the item they want, arrange payment, and have it delivered. Instead, they visit the Opaper link in the merchant’s profile and add everything to one basket like any other online store. But Opaper doesn’t just make it easier for people to order on social media. It also allows merchants to “own a direct-to-consumer experience,” says McIntosh.
Opaper allows merchants to track that kind of customer data, so they can use it for re-engagement and retargeting. Overtime, it also plans to build more supply chain and inventory management tools for sellers, as many social commerce transactions are pre-orders. “When I was a bakery owner, I wanted to make sure I knew how much a person was buying so I could retarget them with coupons or points. That’s something you don’t really get easily [third-party] markets,” she said.