The move to mobilize e-commerce websites continues. Last week, a company called ShopPad, which turns Shopify and Magento sites into tablet-friendly formats, announced $500,000 in seed funding. Today, Hanover, Germany-based competitor CouchCommerce is announcing some seed funding of its own. Specifically, a seven-figure round (in euros) from area investors including Hannover Beteiligungsfonds (HBF) (which belongs to hannoverimpuls) and the Venturepreneurs Organisation. This is the company’s first official outside investment.
Founded in February 2012, CouchCommerce’s CEO Alexander Ringsdorff has a decade of experience in the e-commerce industry, previously running an e-commerce agency and consultancy focused on Magento development. Following that agency’s acquisition by a larger firm, Ringsdorff decided to strike out on his own again, this time with a software-as-a-service startup.
“It started by realizing how quickly iPads had gained traffic share,” explains Ringsdorff of the startup’s beginnings. “But for me, one of the main reasons was that my mother’s first computer was an iPad. I realized something is happening here – but online shops were not really designed well for all these post-PC devices,” he says. Given his Magento and e-commerce background, the obvious next step for him was to create a technology platform that could transform traditional shops into tablet-friendly websites quickly.
Initially, the CouchCommerce platform was built on Sencha Touch, but was later rebuilt on Google’s web app framework, AngularJS. With the service, merchants can build browser-based tablet or smartphone experiences in less than 30 minutes to synchronize their online shop with the CouchCommerce platform. That means it can handle their user accounts, transactions, and checkout – an end-to-end experience. Checkout in particular is something ShopPad doesn’t allow for just yet, but that’s because their primary focus is on Shopify, which Ringsdorff also admits is built in a way that doesn’t permit this kind of deeper integration. Also like ShopPad, he says they’re talking to Shopify, too, in order to see how something like this could be done in the future.
In the meantime, the service offers support for local player OXID eSales and PrestaShop (France), in addition to Magento. It’s primarily focused on the European market today, but aims to expand to the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014.
With the new funding, the plan now is to continue development, and specifically focus on the CouchCommerce open source web app development framework (see CouchCommerce.org), which Ringsdorff explains will allow partners and agencies take the CouchCommerce technology and build their own custom integrations. This way, for example, a merchant could pay CouchCommerce for a subscription, but then ask their agency to build customizations for an additional fee. The agency would then use the open sourced module to do so.
Now a team of 14, CouchCommerce has over 500 small to mid-sized paying customers since its August 2013 debut. The company had previously raised close to 300,000 euros from the Venturepreneurs in a pitch contest last year, but had otherwise been bootstrapped.