Minnesota [E] Commerce Captains: Brett Thoreson, CartStack



Thanks to Irish Titan for underwriting our Minnesota [E] Commerce Captains series focused on local leadership in e-commerce.

Minnesota SaaS founder & CEO Brett Thoreson started bootstrapping CartStack in early 2012 and brought beta to market by the end of that year.

A few quarters later, the company had hit revenues and hired multiple employees. Now with team of seven, CartStack is at an inflection point as the business continues to scale under Thoreson’s guidance.

He will be speaking to his success, lessons and future at the next TC E-Commerce Meetup at Apruve HQ next week.

What exactly does CartStack do and how does it work?

CartStack is a shopping cart abandonment recovery solution for e-commerce websites and hotel booking engines. After the CartStack customer adds a JavaScript tracking snippet to their website, CartStack “watches” website visitors and will send retargeting emails to visitors that start the checkout process but don’t finalize their order. CartStack customers can set up their retargeting
email sequence and view reports via a web based dashboard.

When, why and how did you get started?

We launched CartStack in 2013, at the time, I was managing a web development shop. We had a couple clients that were looking for a cart abandonment solution, so we figured this could be a good opportunity to test a simple JavaScript cart abandonment solution without investing too much time in development. We knew there were enterprise solutions out there, but not many providers for small and mid-sized ecommerce companies. We figured we could make a dent in the market by creating a simple solution for smaller companies to take advantage of proven, abandoned shopping cart campaign strategies.


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Is it best for B2B, B2C, or both types of e-commerce audiences?

We have both B2B and B2C customers, with the majority being in the B2C space. We have been developing new features catered towards B2B though recently, as this is an area we are looking to grow into.

How do you measure customer success and how much value ($) would you say the product has created?

Our average customer recovers $27 for every $1 spent with our software, so we shoot for this metric for all new customer campaigns. In the past 4+ years, we have recovered over $250,000,000 for over 500 different e-commerce companies. One of our core values is “Customer Profits First”, so we try to make business decisions based on how we can create more revenue for our customers, not just CartStack.

What do you attribute your own business success to so far?

Two things come to mind:

(1) I think the biggest reason we are still around and growing is because we have focused on doing one thing and striving to be the best in the world at it our for market. So many companies try to do too many things initially – they take the “jack of all trades, master of none” approach. It’s much better to have 100 people absolutely love you and your product than 1000 people who think you are OK.

(2) The second most important thing has been creating a great team. We’ve always taken hiring very seriously and put a lot of resources into our hiring process. One bad hire can kill a startup pretty quickly.

What’s the biggest challenge you see for e-commerce retailers today? And SaaS products like yours?

Distribution. Making a great product (software or otherwise) isn’t enough. You have to be able to grow your customer base by finding lucrative channels and/or partnerships.

Where do you see CartStack as a business one year from now?

I would like to see CartStack double our current customer base, increase our team size from 7 to 10, and be in a position to look for potential outside funding in one year from now.

Any advice for the emerging SaaS entrepreneur out there?

Become obsessed with two things:

(1) Customer development – This will save you a ton of time, resources, development, and frustration. Talk to customers every single day. You can make up for a lot of faults by being a fantastic listener.

(2) Customer support – It’s extremely difficult to build the best product or be the best at marketing that product in the early days, but it’s not that difficult to provide world class support. Decide early on to be better than everyone else at customer support and success.