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Luca Cartechini

Wednesday 15th March 2023


This article was originally published on Work With Shop as part of the "Humans of the Shopify Ecosystem" interview series. Work With Shop was a project I started in 2022 and closed in August 2023. However, I wanted to keep the interviews online and have therefore repurposed them here.

Luca Cartechini — Co-founder and CEO of Shop Circle

For this interview we're back heading to London to chat with Luca Cartechini, AC Milan fanatic and Co-founder and CEO of Shop Circle.


General

Q: Where are you right now?

At my desk in our office in central London.

Q: Where are you based?

I live in London, in the lovely neighbourhood of St. John's Wood.

Q: When asked, what do you say your job title is?

Co-founder and CEO of Shop Circle.

Q: Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

Every day is different, and I love it. A typical week spans across setting long-term vision and goals for the company, shaping our culture, trying to foster creativity and innovation from the humans of Shop Circle, coming up with new strategic initiatives, speaking with existing and potential customers/partners, hiring, and deepening our relationships with investors.

Q: How did you get started in the Shopify ecosystem?

My co-founder (Gian Maria) and I have always been huge believers in e-commerce as a secular trend and the D2C model. Therefore, Shopify was an easy choice.

Gian Maria & Luca Cartechini

Shopify is an amazing platform with the most prolific B2B app store in the world. We knew we wanted to be part of it. Fast forward two years, and here we are, operating more than 30 apps and supporting more than 80,000 brands all over the world.


App Acquisition & Scaling

Q: What attracted you to acquiring and scaling Shopify apps?

We looked at the space and realised that a lot of bootstrapped app developers were missing a piece or two of the puzzle. For some, it was Product Management, for others it might have been a content strategy or efficient marketing.

By bringing together a team of e-commerce innovators and experts from around the world who specialise in these areas, we realised that we could provide a home for these apps to reach their full growth potential and help as many merchants, brands, and creators as possible achieve their goals.

Also, we want to simplify life for our customers, providing them with all of the tools they need to scale their companies under a unified offering.

Q: How did you validate the business opportunity?

We have a team that looks at each opportunity's unique features and how it fits into the bigger picture. Given our rapid growth, exact criteria do change, but as a starting point, we look for well-built apps and founders that care about their product and customers.

From a data perspective, we look at metrics like retention, LTV, revenue, growth and profitability.

Q: How do you assess whether an existing app is a good buy or not?

As mentioned above, the most important thing is that the app is built to create value for its customers. Great customer feedback and reviews and a good ranking never hurts!

We then look at how it can fit into the Shop Circle family and where we can create extra value. Then, as long as the basic metrics match up with what we need, we work together with the developer/founders to come to terms that suit all parties.

Q: How do you attract new customers to use your suite of apps?

We strive to be in all of the channels or touch points where our customers might be. This includes 24/7 customer service, onboarding specialists, partnerships with other agencies and tech providers, content, use cases, word-of-mouth and referrals from other customers and last but not least organic traffic from the Shopify app store.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you face in building and growing apps for the Shopify platform?

In general, the partner ecosystem has matured over the past several years. Shopify now allows us to better understand how our webhooks are performing, and which badges our apps qualify for, and the API documentation has improved drastically.

Shop Circle in Neon

One area which continues to be a struggle is attributing installs with analytics data from the Shopify App Store. It's quite difficult to understand how different channels are performing precisely, and as a result, where we should focus more of our efforts. Shopify Ads do a fairly good job of providing some key metrics, but this needs to be extended to other channels.

Q: What's next for you and your business?

We want to build the largest community of happy brands, helping them solve their daily pain points. Everything else comes second. If we put our customer's interests first, everything else will fall into place.


Lessons & Learnings

Q: What's the biggest challenge you face in your business/work today?

High inflation and rising interest rates that might lead to a consumer recession, impacting our customers (D2C brands).

Q: How do you get "stuff" done? Are you a proponent of a particular productivity method, or do you prefer a "Post It" note on your monitor?

I am a to-do list fanatic. It's fairly simple, every morning, I go through the list and split them into four buckets:

  1. What is a priority, and it needs to be done by me?
  2. Everything that requires my time but can wait
  3. What can be done by someone else?
  4. What is not relevant anymore (delete from the list)?

Q: What's the one bit of advice you would give someone starting out in the Shopify ecosystem today?

The Shopify community is extremely open and collaborative. Give without expecting anything in return. Make friends and not enemies.

Q: How do you approach improving your craft, development, leadership etc.?

I believe reading helped me a lot, but you never truly learn it until you try. So my mental framework is to minimise regrets. And in order to do that, I need to try new things overcoming the fear of failure. Usually, the downside is smaller than we think. And the upside is we either win or learn.

Q: Please share any influential books, blogs, authors etc., that have helped you in your work life.

I am a sucker for personal development books. These are three that had the biggest impact on my life:


Shopify

Q: What's the one missing Shopify feature you wish existed?

The platform has been improving tremendously over the years and definitely has a lot of its core bases covered.

From a merchant or brand's perspective, I would say Shopify's discounting functions have lagged. Traditionally Shopify has only allowed for discount codes or automatic discounts in fairly basic scenarios as opposed to the more robust discount capabilities on other platforms. With Shopify Functions becoming available, however, developers will be able to create custom discounts to solve for some of those missing pieces and cover all of the scenarios merchants are really asking for.

I'm also excited to dive more deeply into the new B2B offering, as this is another area which has so much potential but hasn't been tapped into effectively until now.

Q: How do you keep up to date on what's new, what's outdated, or those pesky deprecated API calls that just might break your app?

Luckily, Shopify has stepped up its game in terms of keeping its partners updated on what's new and coming up. We sent a team to all of the Shopify Unite events this year, subscribe to all the relevant feeds, and take Shopify's audits and suggestions seriously.

Also, since Shopify's API changes have led to several breaking changes this year, our development team dedicates time each quarter to make sure all of our apps run smoothly and take advantage of the newest functionality.


Let's Get Technical

Q: What does your personal tech stack look like?

  1. Google Workspace — I know a lot of people hate it, but I love the bundle element of it. I really like the integration of Gmail, Google Meet, Google Calendar, Google Sheets and Google Docs. It's a one-stop shop for productivity needs and resembles what we aim to do for e-commerce brands.
  2. Slack — The Swiss Army Knife of communication, more than a chat, better than anything else I previously used in large corporations. And let's not forget; it's where all the office jokes and memes are shared.
  3. Our internal tech platform. But it's a secret; I can't tell more. I signed an NDA.
  4. ChatGPT — I am developing an addiction. Should I be worried? “A language model superhero, an extension of my brain, always ready to help. Plus, it saves me from the embarrassment of not knowing the answer to a question” (description written by ChatGPT).

I also use a bunch of other tech tools, such as Confluence, Jira, Partner Stack, Hubspot etc. The proliferation of software is real and that's why Shop Circle exists!

Q: What about everyday apps that you can't live without?

  1. Spotify
  2. Uber
  3. Deliveroo
  4. Skyscanner
  5. Slack
  6. WhatsApp

Q: Do you have any funky/cool hardware or desk accessories you'd recommend?

Not really, I used to have four screens when I was in banking, and now I enjoy the flexibility of having a single laptop that I can carry wherever I want.


And Finally

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

Sports! Gym, swimming and playing football (the European one!) I also enjoy scuba diving and many other water sports (I'm trying to get better at surfing but with not much success).

Surfs Up!

Over the years, I rediscovered a voracious passion for reading, and I watch way less TV than I used to.

Q: What was your favourite album/book/magazine/event of 2022?

AC Milan winning the Italian football league after 11 years (I cried).

Q: Share three of your favourite Shopify stores (if you have one yourself, please include it)

Q: Where can people find out more about you?

I am pretty active on LinkedIn, and I am trying to be more active on Twitter too!


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