StoreConnect: An End-To-End Customer-Facing Solution For SMBs, Non-Profits, And Education

By Amit Chowdhry ● Jan 9, 2024

StoreConnect is a fully customized, fully integrated, and affordable commerce solution for SMBs, nonprofits, and educational organizations managed out of the Salesforce CRM. Pulse 2.0 interviewed StoreConnect founder and CEO Mikel Lindsaar to learn more about the company.

Mikel Lindsaar’s Background

Lindsaar is a proud father and husband and has been building businesses since 2010. And Lindsaar said:

“In that time. I have built seven companies from the ground up and sold four separate SaaS companies. I’m also an open-source software developer, having written the email handling library for the ruby programming language, which has now been downloaded close to half a billion times. I spent ten years prior to 2010 volunteering to help people deal with drug, family, and personal issues. In the ten years before that building an internet service provider company. I have a very broad skill set, including a proven track record of entrepreneurship, management, marketing, software development, and customer support.”

Formation Of StoreConnect

How did the idea for StoreConnect come together? Lindsaar shared:

“In 2017, I was running reinteractive.com (my web application development company that specializes in AI-driven, Salesforce-connected web, and mobile apps) and had many businesses approach me to build completely bespoke eCommerce websites. This confused me because products like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, etc. existed and cost a tiny fraction of what it would cost to build a completely bespoke platform.”

“Yet companies were continuing to buy completely bespoke eCommerce platforms from us, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This didn’t make sense. So, I started investigating and asked these business owners why they were building a bespoke solution and not using systems like Shopify.”

“The answer I got back really surprised me. It was not that these existing systems couldn’t do the front end. They absolutely could. What all these solutions were missing, what the clients were craving, was a robust, powerful, extensible, configurable BACK end. It was the reports, the customer information, and the configurability that they wanted.  They didn’t want eCommerce. They wanted Customer Commerce. And so, I saw that we could build a complete Customer Commerce platform built on and within Salesforce that would give these clients the best of both worlds.”

“To say there was a pent-up demand for this would be an understatement.  We instantly got paying customers and have been building and improving the product ever since.”

Favorite Memory

What has been Lindsaar’s favorite memory working for the company so far? Lindsaar reflected:

The best experience so far was having our first in-person, all-hands, team meeting as a company. We launched StoreConnect before the lockdowns and for the first couple of years, we had a small team who had already been working together, working on the product development. Then the lockdowns struck.”

“StoreConnect has always been a remote first business, so we were able to continue to produce and grow during that period, but we weren’t able to meet our new team members. As soon as the borders opened up, we could get the whole team together, and we did so for a three-day event, and it was awesome.  As an entrepreneur, I’ve always tried to build the company to be one that I would want to work at, and these in-person meetings go a long way to help build the culture and community of our team.”

Core Products

What are StoreConnect’s core products and features? Lindsaar explained:

“Our core product is our StoreConnect Customer Commerce SaaS platform. Built completely on and within Salesforce Sales CRM, it provides a full, end-to-end customer-facing solution for SMBs, Non-Profits, Education, and more. StoreConnect is a complete eCommerce, Content Management System, Point of Sale System, Multi Store/Multi-Region/Multi Language system that also provides Shipping, Stock Management, Bookings, and Appointments as well as Rewards and Loyalty.”

“We are the solution for smaller enterprises to offer a similar level of capability that the big end of town enjoy because they are able to throw large sums of money at the problem. We give them a small business budget-friendly solution that is crafted for speed and designed for connection.”
Challenges Faced

What challenges has Lindsaar faced in building the company? Lindsaar acknowledged:

“We decided early to be a channel-led company. What I mean by this is that as a company, we would not offer professional services to install and configure our solution. This was a very tough decision to make and resulted in slower initial growth as we had to establish a partner channel of external companies and ecosystems and bring them on and train them on how to install and configure our solution, and they all are very busy!”

“Happily, though, in the last 30 months, we have signed up 73 Salesforce Solution Integration (SI) partners worldwide to be StoreConnect SI partners, that’s been at a rate of more than 2 per month, which is really fantastic growth for a company of our size and speaks volumes of the quality and pent up market demand of the product.”

Evolution Of StoreConnect’s Technology

How has StoreConnect’s technology evolved since launching? Lindsaar noted:

When we first started, we thought we could sell StoreConnect Customer Commerce as sort of a piece of IP or technical licensed know-how, with our clients having their own set of software and servers and hosting, etc. This proved to be a pretty significant dead end for our growth and expansion. We then shifted to a SaaS model where partners would install and configure, and this has taken a LOT of work to get our systems and especially documentation to a point where an independent third-party partner COULD install our software without us having to hand hold at every step.”

“Now I’m happy to say that a client can do the training on StoreConnect and self-install if they wish, or they can engage a partner to help them with it.”

“Our goal is to be friendly at all stages of the process to SMBs, Non-Profits, and Education who don’t always have a maintenance budget available to retain experts and need to be able to do most of the things themselves. StoreConnect is built around this idea of Time, Well Spent. Do it once, do it right, and have as much fun as possible while you do it!”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Lindsaar cited:

“Three broad ones, I think. Initially, getting the product to work in the first place. It was not a given that a product like StoreConnect could even be built, so getting that first website running and live cart checkout complete was a major success shared by all.  Then it was growing the company to a point where we had a complete product market fit and high client and partner demand. This took a lot of work by so many of our awesome team, but we made it happen. Most recently, it has been the closing of a $9 million USD seed round to help us expand into the new year and beyond, including launching in a big way at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2023.”

Customer Success Stories

After asking Lindsaar about customer success stories, he highlighted:

StoreConnect is an amazing product for small businesses who want access to enterprise-grade systems without the enterprise-grade cost.”

“One of our clients put Rapid Antigen Tests online for sale during the peak of COVID-19 in Australia, when people were queueing outside pharmacies to purchase them. Their sales went from about 3,000 orders per month to 35,000 orders in just under 30 hours. Over a year’s worth of usual traffic in a day and a half or so. Not a single order was lost, and not a single transaction was denied due to the load. This was a massive win for them and proof that our system can handle high loads.”

“Another customer is about halfway through migrating over 80 separate eCommerce stores, built on 80 separate eCommerce systems across 25 brands in 4 countries in 4 currencies onto a single StoreConnect Customer Commerce system. Their ability to report on worldwide sales by brand will drop drastically from days to a few seconds giving them real-time data on how their business is performing globally for the first time in their history.”

Funding

After asking Lindsaar about the company’s funding and revenue, he revealed:

“We don’t publicly share revenue numbers; however, in June, we did complete our first fundraising seed round of $9 million, which was led by Bellini Capital.”

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is the company pursuing? Lindsaar assessed:

“We believe there are well over a hundred thousand small businesses, non-profits, and education clients who need a solution like StoreConnect Customer Commerce like their next breath. These would have an average spend of about $15,000 per year on StoreConnect.  This, combined with the fact that more than 50% of our customers are new logos to Salesforce, means that we are able to align with an industry giant like Salesforce to really help this market achieve its expansion goals with StoreConnect.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Lindsaar affirmed:

“Our competition is Shopify, BigCommerce, and other platforms like Squarespace, WooCommerce, et al. The biggest differentiator is that while all those solutions are fantastic at doing what they do, that is just the point: they only do what they can do.”

“If you want to extend those systems to work with your back office systems or your specific business problems or issues, you are stuck, really, with building some sort of API layer of integration between all the systems and bolting on solutions that just feel like a square peg in a round hole, and we all know these never really work the way you want or fail at just the perfectly WRONG time.  StoreConnect gets rid of this integration layer, allowing everything to be in Salesforce, in a single record allowing you to extend the platform in Salesforce to meet your needs.”

“This is a game changer for our clients.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of the company’s future company goals? Lindsaar concluded:

“Expand and take this market. We do things that no one else can do in this space and we are perfectly positioned to expand. We have a strong foothold in Australia and New Zealand for the APAC region, we have just hired our sales team in the USA to grow AMER and our international Growth Officer to help lead expansion there in the USA and into EMEA. This growth of our sales team will mirror the growth of our partner network and client ecosystem to really build a community of clients that are achieving their business success, helped by StoreConnect Customer Commerce getting the technology out of their way so that they can do what they love.”