This past May, Tomasz Tunguz at Redpoint published an article about the general go-to-market strategy, customer acquisition, and growth potential of Saas Enabled Marketplaces—SEMs, like BlueCart. The post focused on some of the main challenges and advantages of a business model like ours, and lot of it hit home. But the point that most interested us at the time was his assertion that even relative to other high-growth startups, SEMs have the potential to “grow exceptionally quickly.”
When we sat down with Tomasz back in April, growth was very much on our minds. After just under a year since launch, we had over 2,000 users on the platform (both restaurants and suppliers), and were growing at a rate of almost 200 new restaurants per month. Now, just half a year later, we’ve doubled our total number of users on the platform and added over 600 restaurants in November alone.
The most interesting thing about this (at least for us) has been that a lot of the most exceptional growth at BlueCart has come at a time when our main focus as a company has actually been on user engagement, not customer acquisition. It’s not hard to connect the dots between restaurants using us with more vendors, and more vendors using us with more restaurants, etc. etc., but it came as a bit of a surprise to us that even as management put all our energy into getting users to use the app more, we actually wound up with more new users than ever. In fact, we’re already opening a third office in San Francisco to keep up with demand generated by our work in DC and NYC.
The engagement efforts paid off in other ways, of course. Transaction volume, which was doubling quarter-to-quarter in the spring, is now doubling on a month-to-month basis. Metrics we track and benchmark on a near-obsessive basis, like orders per day, dollar volume per day, and new buyer-seller connections made, are similarly climbing up an ever-steeper curve.
Obviously, these adoption and engagement rates speak to an ability to answer a need in the industry as a whole that goes well-beyond placing all-in bets on servicing a few key accounts or celebrity kitchens (though, of course, we have those too: Rasika, Voltaggio, etc….), but to really understand the health of BlueCart’s upward trajectories, we look at the monthly 10% increase in average order numbers / user. That’s the number that tells us that “exceptional growth” is not only possible, but also sustainable—with plenty of room for more.
Today, with fresh funding and a fantastic team, we’re focused on developing new ways to leverage user engagement into customer acquisition and vice versa. It’s a strategy that we expect to continue to yield incredible metrics going forward, especially with the release of our Vendor 2.0 platform in December. If you want to watch SEM growth hit new highs, watch this space!