A Small Biz COO App: Five Questions for Shopventory’s Rares Saftoiu

Rares Saftoiu and Bach Le were working on the TurboTax engineering team at Intuit in San Diego when they decided to quit in 2013 to work full-time on Shopventory, a software startup they founded to serve small business owners.

It was their second attempt at a startup while they were still working full-time at Intuit. As Saftoiu puts it, they were frustrated and dissatisfied with corporate work, and Le had developed a useful software program that his wife was using to run her women’s boutique in Vista, CA.

The program became the basis for Shopventory, an inventory management system for small business owners that use mobile point-of-sale systems—any of the little swipers like Square, Clover, and PayPal Here that plug into a phone or tablet. “When we started Shopventory, none of the major mobile point-of-sale systems (Square included) had any type of inventory management capability,” Saftoiu writes in an e-mail.

Shopventory co-founder Rares Saftoiu

Rares Saftoiu

Saftoiu and Le applied to several startup accelerators, including Y Combinator and Techstars. “We made it to the final stages of the Y Combinator process, but we eventually got accepted into Techstars” in Boulder, CO, Saftoiu writes.

“It was at this point we decided to pursue Shopventory full-time. We officially incorporated in May 2013, right before the start of our Techstars

Shopventory co-founder Bach Le

Bach Le

program.”

Dave Carlson, one of their lead mentors at Techstars, joined the Shopventory team a few months later as a co-founder and CEO.

This week, Shopventory is officially introducing a new product, Thrive. “Thrive shows you at a glance how your business is doing,” Saftoiu writes.

Shopventory co-founder and CEO Dave Carlson

Dave Carlson

“It’s the heartbeat of your business in the palm of your hand. We tie in to all the services small business owners use (point-of-sale systems, e-mail campaign software, social media, accounting), pull in all the data, crunch the numbers, and show you vital stats.”

“All the big companies,” he continues, “have teams of people that provide those types of analytics, but the small business owner is busy enough just trying to run his shop and doesn’t have time to crunch the numbers (or talk to his accountant often enough). We level the playing field.”

Saftoiu, who is Shopventory’s chief marketing officer, answered a few questions from Xconomy, which have been condensed and edited for clarity:

Xconomy: How did you fund the company?

Rares Saftoiu: We funded the company with a seed round from angel investors. We graduated from Techstars in August 2013, and closed our round in October. We initially raised $1 million, with a recent top-off of another $400,000 that just closed a few months ago.

X: How is Thrive different from your original Shopventory app?

RS: We went through Techstars with our shopventory.com product. About nine months out of Techstars (we graduated in August 2013), Square added inventory management and partnered with Stitch Labs, one of our primary competitors. We also had a really hard time working with PayPal. Despite many meetings and having … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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