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E-commerce site Tictail taking U.S. by storm

Carl Waldekranz, founder of the e-commerce site Tictail.

Carl Waldekranz, founder of the e-commerce site Tictail. Photo Credit: TICTAIL

Move over eBay and Etsy, there's a new e-commerce site in the scene.

Online small business platform Tictail recently moved its headquarters from Sweden to New York City.

The site, which has a corresponding Apple and Android app, aims to help new brands gain traffic. It gives vendors their own website and also promotes their products in its marketplace.

Small vendors "need an e-commerce platform that not just helps them start the store but actually helps them with marketing and helps them put their product in front of customers," explained 28-year-old co-founder and CEO Carl Waldekranz.

He may be onto something -- since launching in May 2012, Tictail now has 70,000 vendors from across 140 countries.

This is Waldekranz's second entrepreneurial venture. Back in Sweden, he had started a small digital agency called Super Strikes, which helped small businesses with branding and web development. Among its first customers was what was then a small digital music streaming company called Spotify.

Waldekranz sold Super Strikes in 2009 to Identity Works Inc., one of the biggest branding agencies in Sweden, and worked at Identity Works for the next two years. In the meantime, his mom began looking for a way to sell her hand-painted Chinaware online.

Dissatisfied with her options, he rounded up a team of designers to brainstorm what would become Tictail.

"We would have these 48-hour hackathons over the weekend," he said. "Literally all four of us would sleep in my apartment every weekend for six months."

The question they sought to answer: "How can you help a small business go from nothing to having an online ad campaign in two minutes?"

While their success in Sweden was evident in Tictail's popularity all over the globe, their biggest market to tackle is the United States, Waldekranz said. The number of U.S.-based Tictail vendors grows roughly 120% year-over-year.


o he spent the end of 2013 riding planes from San Francisco to New York City to Stockholm in search of Teir A funding. He secured $8 million from the New York City-based investment firm Thrive Capital -- known for backing big names like Instagram, Warby Parker and Kickstarter -- in January 2014.

Then he and co-founder Kaj Drobin moved their marketing team to New York City. They now have a staff of 15 in their Lower East Side office off the Bowery.

"We decided, to really tackle this market and to really win this market, we need to be here and we need to take it seriously," Waldekranz. Being the "capital of the world," New York City was the perfect place to do that, he said.

To get its name on the tips of New Yorkers' tongues, Tictail has held a few pop-up shops for its merchants, most recently at Brooklyn Flea.

Online, vendors have access to premium add-ons such as Facebook ads, e-mail newsletters, discount codes, product review systems and live chats, which cost anywhere from a dollar to $10 a pop.

The features have a rate of return of three to five times the investment, Waldekranz said. So if a vendor spends $10 on add-ons, he or she can potentially earn $30-$50 more as a result.

Tictail is currently turning a profit through these add-ons, and Waldekranz's focus now is mainly on growing the mobile platform. Tictail apps allow vendors to start their website, manage their ad campaigns and interact with customers all from their smartphones.

"The future of e-commerce is all mobile," Waldekranz said. "I personally believe that one year from now most small businesses will start their online presence without ever touching a desktop computer."

But rather than compete with each other, Waldekranz has a vision for all of Tictail's small businesses to work together as one massive online mall.

"We can help small merchants compete on the same terms as a large company," he said. "Our belief is the small businesses of the world are stronger together than they are alone."


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