Becoming an app developer is never easy, especially for non-coders, and when it comes to app developers, many people will think of programmers/developers with immense knowledge of coding. However, there are always different stories when people outside the industry can also get a career as a developer, just with breakthrough and useful ideas.
And one of those stories has begun from Prague; three guys with their ideas had started Digismoothie, a new E-commerce startup intending to help merchants become more successful with their Shopify store.
So what are their secrets, and what have they gone through on their way to success? Today we will have the opportunity to learn more about them with a short interview with Tom, the Co-founder of the Digismoothie company.
In this article, Tom will share his experiences with Digismoothie and their difficulties on their way to becoming Shopify app developers and store builders.
Can you tell me more about yourself and your current business on Shopify platform?
Tom: My name is Tom(as), I live in Prague, Czech Republic, and I am the Co-founder of the Digismoothie company. We started as Shopify app developers and expanded our reach to store building recently. Our philosophy is simple -- help Shopify merchants to grow their business using our tools.
How did you start your E-commerce journey and your agency?
Tom: I discovered the world of e-commerce in 2008 when I launched my own online store running on the Magento platform at that time. In 2011 I joined a large security software company as one of the first members of the E-commerce department. In the last 10+ years I have learned a lot about the industry and its challenges.
Approximately 2 years ago we heard about Shopify, which is still not that popular in (Central) Europe as it is in North America. We were three non-dev guys with an app idea and we were lucky enough to find a fourth colleague in our country who helped us to transform our ideas into a properly functioning app on the app store.
It took a few months and the app got really good traction and earned a lot of recognition. We finished our first year (2019) with 1,000+ subscribed merchants and yet we saw we are still just at the beginning.
During this time, we have also had many people contacting us and asking if we can build a Shopify store for them. At the beginning, we have been politely refusing them and focusing solely on the app development. But lately, we realized we would be missing an opportunity; and doing both app and store development brings many benefits and advantages.
So what are your daily tasks and what do you like the most about your job?
Tom: We are still a relatively small company so I am involved in many areas. From setting the high-level strategy and roadmap to helping our merchants on the online chat. From time to time, I also write articles on our blog, which is something I really enjoy.
What I really like is seeing our merchants getting a real benefit from our apps. If we help someone to grow the business incrementally by 20-30% that’s awesome and something we are really proud of.
What do you like about the Shopify platform?
Tom: Quite a few things. First of all, it’s really simple so everyone can set up the online store without any technical knowledge and have it running in a few hours. And it will look great. This enablement of anyone becoming an independent entrepreneur is really amazing.
I am also a big fan of the app store. Which enables merchants to get new almost features instantly. On the flipside, it enables developers to market their apps to 1 million plus merchants.
And last but not least, I really like the community around Shopify. Everyone is really helpful and people share a lot of information on how to be successful. The company itself cares a lot about topics like environment and sustainability which I massively respect.
Would you like to share more about your team? And what kind of services are you offering with Shopify?
Tom: We are currently a team of 15 people and we all share the same values and passion for Shopify which I think is really important for the overall company. Our core teams are obviously development and customer success.
Regarding our services, we are offering 3 global apps and a few local ones for the Czech market. Our flagship app is definitely Candy Rack which helps merchants to increase the AOV (average order value) by offering upsells and cross-sells. Another successful app is called Gift Box which allows merchants to offer free gifts to their customers.
Besides apps, we also started building stores recently. This is something quite new for us but it really helps us to better understand the Shopify ecosystem and proposition, and identify potential opportunities. Both verticals (app development and store building) are creating a really nice symbiosis.
And we don’t plan to stop with 2 verticals only, we have 1 or 2 in mind already. We are basically creating a one stop shop for anything Shopify related.
Let's talk more about your customers. Where do they come from? Any memorable experiences of working with them?
Tom: Vast majority of our customers are coming from North America (more than 50%). The rest is equally spread around the remaining continents. We are not focused on any industry like fashion but our apps are really for everyone. From one-product stores to large ones with thousands of SKUs.
What I really love is every time I get a chance to jump on a call with some of our merchants. During the call you can understand so much more about the business and challenges of using our apps. That’s extremely valuable for us as we are building customer-centric products.
In order to be closer to our (potential) customers, we plan to host meetups and/or webinars in the future.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you solve it?
Tom: Our biggest challenge is definitely the prioritization among customer requests and our own internal roadmap. Ideally, we would want enough development resources to do both at the same time, but that’s not how it works (at least now). We are trying to resolve it by investing more and more resources into our development team.
In terms of external challenges, it’s definitely the compatibility with other apps in the ecosystem. Sometimes two apps can’t work together at the same store and it could be hard for customers to understand and accept it which I completely understand. This area is definitely something we need to invest more in.
How do you use PageFly for your clients?
Tom: We are recommending PageFly to every client for whom we build the store. It’s such a great and simple tool which allows store owners to control their site on a much more granular level compared to themes. And clients really appreciate the fact they can do many things on their own without our involvement.
Did you have any difficulties using PageFly? And how did you solve it?
Tom: Some of our merchants are using PageFly as well. And unfortunately, it didn’t work properly with Candy Rack. We contacted your technical support and were actually amazed with the response which really helped us to resolve the compatibility issue. So thank you for that!
Just one last question, do you have any advice for new E-commerce entrepreneurs on the Shopify Partners ecosystem?
Tom: Don’t focus on your competitors, app store rankings, being featured and other external factors which are outside of your control. Rather focus on things you can influence -- your product and customers. Listen to your customers, make them almost a part of your product team and build a customer-centric product. This is something which worked well for us.
Don’t expect to have a widely popular and successful app right from the beginning. Rather take small steps and make sure every single merchant is happy. The success will come but it’s a journey.
Digismoothie makes e-commerce apps and builds online stores on the Shopify platform. The company’s mission is to help merchants grow their business via app solutions and the implementation of best practices.
Their flagship app is called Candy Rack. It enables store owners to upsell and cross-sell products/services to their customers in order to boost the AOV. The app has been widely recognized for its simplicity, UX, and effectiveness.
Digismoothie is based in Prague, Czech Republic, and was founded in 2019. The company currently employs 15 employees.
You can find more about the team at: https://www.digismoothie.com/about/.