Claudia and Madison close out The Room’s first season with guest Amit Sharma, CEO, and founder of Narvar. Madison first met Amit in Narvar’s offices back in 2019, as a customer at Gap Inc. If you’ve ever received an email about your tracking update or returned something online, odds are you’ve interacted with Narvar’s core products. Narvar is a post-purchase customer engagement platform helping over 650 retailers streamline their customer communication, returns, and exchanges. Founded in 2012, Amit saw what others did not, post-purchase is a powerful mechanism for e-commerce customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction. Rather than “ghosting” your customers, retailers needed to handhold customers every step of the way from the “complete purchase button” to the ring of the doorbell. As we learn in today’s episode, this wasn’t Amit’s first try at start-ups. Listen to the episode to learn about his journey from India, his first start-up with unfortunate market timing, his experiences working at multiple large retailers, and ultimately taking the plunge to start Narvar. Let’s open the door.
Key Theme 1: The GoldiLocks Retailer Phenomenon
Narvar got their start by selling simultaneously into large enterprise retailers, hello Home Depot, and to “the cool kids from New York.” These cool kids are now household names with brands such as Warby Parker, Rent the Runway, and BirchBox. When Narvar was getting started, these brands were emerging disrupters who were more likely to take a chance on a fellow start-up. Most start-ups today face the existential question of selling into the “long tail of small to medium businesses” or “large enterprise accounts.” There are pros and cons to both. SMB retailers have faster sales cycles, with smaller ARR contracts. Large brands like Home Depot come with big paychecks but even bigger sales cycles. Not one retailer is “just right” for the needs of most e-commerce infrastructure players. If you’re debating between choosing a “focus” customer, take a play out of Amit’s book and build features that are valuable no matter the size which can scale with time.
tl;dr: Build features and products that scale with your customers
Key Theme 2: Embracing Ambiguity
Both times Amit set out to build something on his own, he faced great personal unknowns. His first start-up in the early 2000s landed him without a work visa and required him to return back to India! The second time, he started Narvar shortly after his third child and initially struggled to raise venture capital. Instead of letting the unknowns and uncertainty deter him, and thanks to a very supportive wife and community, he persevered. While these are extreme examples of personal ambiguity, it makes sense Amit stands by embracing ambiguity as a core value for both himself and Narvar. If you’re a planner like us, this is a hard value to hold sincerely but is essential to all entrepreneurs.
tl;dr: being an entrepreneur is an exercise in feeling comfortable in the uncomfortable
Key Theme 3: Carving out time for the people that matter most
Amit shared colorful stories of taking one-on-one time every week with his three children. He found a unique way to make them each feel special and included in his days. Whether it be your kids, your significant other, or your roommates, Amit reminds us all to prioritize quality time even in demanding work schedules with the ones that matter most.
tl;dr: there’s no substitute for quality time even when you’re CEO
Thank you so much to all who followed along in our inaugural season of The Room. Don’t be too sad, season two will be back February 2nd, 2021 with all-new episodes and inspiring guests!