Minnesota Ecommerce Captains: Charlie Youakim, Sezzle

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Thanks to Irish Titan for underwriting our Minnesota Ecommerce Captains series focused on local leadership in the e-commerce industry.

Minnesota tech entrepreneur Charlie Youakim is a cofounder/CEO of Sezzle and guest speaker at the Twin Cities Ecommerce Meetup next Wednesday.

What​ ​exactly​ ​does​ ​Sezzle​ ​do​ ​and​ ​how​ ​does​ ​it​ ​work?

Sezzle is a payment solution that increases sales and basket sizes by enabling your customers to “Shop Now and Pay Later” with simple installment plans. We break down larger purchases into 4 equal payments spread over 6 weeks, with the first payment due at the time of the transaction and the remaining payments due every 2 weeks, thereafter.

When,​ ​why​ ​and​ ​how​ ​did​ ​you​ ​get​ ​started?

Sezzle was founded in January of 2016. We spent 2016 getting our team, product and funding in place. We launched a V1 product in Feb of 2017 and pivoted to our current product in Aug of 2017.

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

Our product is built for B2C e-commerce. Our business model is B2B2C. We sell to merchants that are B2C.

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

We measure success by looking at a dashboard of metrics. Success for our merchants is measured by
calculating our sales lift and our AOV lift. We currently view all sales through Sezzle as additional sales to the
merchant. Success with consumers is measured through repeat usage rates and installment repayment rates.

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

Our business success has really revolved around finding a great product/market fit. Our V1 product had a poor
product/market fit, and despite our strong team we were unable to gain any traction. Since we’ve pivoted we’ve
had great success.

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

We speak with many small e-commerce merchants and it’s apparent the toughest time is at the outset. There is
so much noise and competition for attention in B2C that the lift-off phase of the business is very important.  Many of the successes we’ve seen have started small – even as part-time businesses and eventually transitioned to full-time roles as the companies have grown.

For SaaS products like ours the key is making sure that your tool is providing substantial value to the merchant
and/or addressing a strong pain point. Businesses have a multitude of initiatives and you need to make sure
that your business is getting to the top of the list.

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

We believe that our growth rate over the next year will be impressive. We’ve already seen great week-over-week growth rates since our launch and we’re really just getting started. As we become more of a name-brand in the e-commerce payments space we believe that our growth rates will continue to improve. Payments is one of those areas where merchants can be hesitant to make changes until they have strong confidence in the brand behind their decision. This makes it a typically difficult segment to penetrate and gain traction in.

Any​ ​advice​ ​for​ ​the​ ​emerging​ ​SaaS/ecommerce​ ​entrepreneur​ ​out​ ​there?

I always focus on what I consider the top 3 aspects to a business. You need a great product, a great team and
capital to support your business. As long as you can hit on all 3 aspects you’ll likely have a success. With
Sezzle V1 I felt that we had a great team and capital, but our product sputtered. Now we have all cylinders
firing and the results are dramatically different.

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