Their automated price tracking service allows clients to beat out the competition
For people in the know about Turkey’s startup scene over the past few years, the heavy focus on e-commerce is hardly news. In what seemed like a real gold rush at its start with so many entrepreneurs moving into that space, it has thankfully begun to thin out as the strongest players have survived.
What we are starting to see are companies looking to become service providers and improve the way that business is done. Among these startups that have broken off in search of new opportunities is competitor price tracker Prisync.
Based out of the Bogazici University campus in Istanbul, their service lets clients stay up to date on how much their competitors are charging for similar products, providing them with essential business intelligence necessary for survival in the e-commerce sector. Along with checking prices, their software can check the item’s stock availability and send notifications to the client.
Learning and building towards an idea
Prisync was founded in 2013 by a small team of three entrepreneurs. Samet Atdag and Sirin Saygili were students at Istanbul Technical University (ITU), while Burc Tanir completed his studies at Bogazici. In establishing their company, the trio decided to forego titles like CEO or CTO, but for all intents and purposes, Atdag and Saygili handle the technical side of the operations while Tanir focuses more on managing the business aspects.
The idea for their project popped up when they recognized a serious flaw in how companies were tracking how their competitors were setting prices. In speaking with friends, Tanir explains to Geektime that they were constantly sifting through rival websites and marking down prices in massive excel sheets. This manual process was both time consuming and not terribly effective.
It occurred to the team that this mind numbing yet important task could be done far better if they could automate it.
During their six-month building process for the prototype, they began approaching large local e-commerce companies and signed their first clients in 2014. In July 2014, they received their seed funding from Galata Business Angels (GBA) and Behrendt International Consulting (BIC) Investment Angels.
Like many startups, their first year was very informative. They quickly found that working directly with these big companies had a number of hidden obstacles and restrictions.
First, by working as contractors for these companies, they had to spend a lot of time working out the conditions from the contract, which could often turn into a long, drawn out process. This was obviously less than ideal for their cash flow.
The second issue had more to do with partnering primarily with Turkish companies. They understood that if they wanted to scale up and make this a feasible enterprise, they would have to shift to a new business model.
Finally in April, they made the decision to pivot in a new direction. Instead of working as outside consultants for these big local companies, they moved to join the SaaS sector and made their service available for international clients through their website.
In the six months since making this shift, Tanir tells Geektime that they have grown to over 100 paying clients, with a growth rate of five to six new customers per week. Of these clients, he says that 95% of them are located in 24 countries outside of Turkey. They range from small businesses in places like Indonesia, to the German owned Media Markt with its strong position in the European market.
Developing the right team
Prisnyc’s connection with the universities in Istanbul is a common story in the startup scene. As Geektime has written in the past, the universities often play a role in providing support to the startups in their early stages.
In addition to using the campus as a place to work, Prisync takes advantage of its most precious resource for building their team. Since starting their business, they have taken on a number of students as interns, who in turn have later joined as employees. Including the three founders the group has six others, totaling a team of nine.
“We have the privilege to work with a really great team,” Tanir enthusiastically tells Geektime. “Since we’re on the campus, we’re really well situated to be close to the talent. We’ve been able to draw talent from the campus. Some of our interns have become full-time team members. They came in knowing nothing about our business, but with their skills and great personalities, they turned into amazing talents.”
Stacking up to the competition
How do you check out the competition for services that spend all day watching the competition? Meta, right?
Prisync is entering an increasingly crowded space that other global companies have started to stake out claims on. On this list include firms like Profitero, Upstream Commerce and 360pi. These companies appear to be working mostly in the enterprise sector, offering end-to-end services. Another big name here is Wiser.
The folks say that their product offers a better fit across the board, and is open to clients that some of these other providers are not set up as well to handle. Tanir says that some of these companies only search through channels like Google Shopping, which might be irrelevant for a small Indonesian company that is completely off that grid, for example.
He says that his company is also better set up to offer seamless service for SMBs than some of these other companies that are more geared for enterprise level businesses.
In reviewing some of the types of clients that Prisync is working with now, it would appear that they are able to meet the needs for a wide range of customers, all from different categories.
In speaking with Tanir, I was left with a number of distinct positive impressions that hopefully other teams there can try to emulate.
This team is breaking the mould of a lot of Turkish companies and are looking for new angles to enter into the market. Through their familiarity with the e-commerce scene, they quickly recognized the potential in providing services to that industry, as opposed to just becoming another one themselves.
Next, and this is extremely important, they showed remarkable learning skills and their ability to pivot from targeting big businesses on the local scene showed both confidence in their product as well as a strong understanding that the ability to scale is based on approaching the global market.
Having spoken with a number of entrepreneurs in the Turkish scene, this can be a lot harder to do than in other places since there is a lot of pressure to remain tied to more traditional business avenues.
Their move to embrace SaaS and the success that they are enjoying hopefully shows others in their ecosystem that this kind of business can flourish.
With any luck, more young startups there will keep taking risks that lead them to develop products that have a wide international appeal, thus making way for high levels of scalability and long-term growth beyond the restrictions of the Turkish market alone.
If this young crew is able to maintain their current growth rate over the next six months, they will quickly be able to establish themselves as a dominant player in this industry. While they are still in the building stage for their more long-term objectives, this innovative company seems to posess a creativity that should be exciting to keep a close eye on.