Chris Kyras & Wenjun Zhu: We want independent retailers to have a fighting chance against big-box retail and even flourish by uniting them under one roof.

May 25, 2023
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A QUICK INTRODUCTION ABOUT WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES/YOUR VALUES/MISSION.

 
Matagora is a Canadian startup on a mission to level out the playing field for independent retail. We want independent retailers to have a fighting chance against big-box retail and even flourish by uniting them under one roof.
We do this by automating the tedious parts of retail collaborations. With Matagora, stores can sync with brands’ inventory in real-time, import all product information in one click, and take care of fulfillment all the way to the payouts to each partner – all put on autopilot.
Stores are instantly transformed into real-time scalable marketplaces and get to keep their product curation exciting for their customers.
Brands get access to more distribution channels, while ensuring they always get paid on time, and empower their store partners to sell better together.
By simplifying store-to-brand partnerships both online and offline, we eliminate the friction of stores testing out brands on the fly and the eventual move to wholesale.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?


Our whole team is made up of through and through passionate retailers with a strong belief in shopping small. Our founders bring uniquely helpful insights that the team leverages to build Matagora so it can tackle the problem in a direct and valuable way.
Chris brings a background of having managed malls and seeing the overwhelming pains store owners go through to stay relevant and compete. He also brings a background of having launched a brand and store himself.

Wenjun brings tech expertise with experience starting web platforms and scaling them up to 10,000+ users. He’s also worked for a global enterprise-grade software company for over 10 years, while being a part of a massive retail tech platform acquisition. He has also previously been a part of an international brand expansion project.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME A YEAR OR TWO, WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF?

 
Launching a startup is hard and building into a real scalable enterprise is even harder.
As founders, we need to realize there are no overnight successes, pace ourselves, and be ready for a never-ending marathon. All success comes from blood, sweat, and tears. You need to keep stacking up the valuable lessons along the journey and never stop finding opportunities to learn in order to master your craft.

WHAT PROBLEM DOES YOUR BUSINESS SOLVE?


Independent retail has never been in a more dire state than now.
The pandemic affected and continues to affect retailers in many ways. Inflation has created massive problems for retail businesses. It’s harder for businesses to manage their margins, while consumers are being forced to spend less, especially on non-critical items.
Independent retailers are being forced to fight uphill battles against the likes of Amazon & Walmart, who’ve now captured 75% of the U.S. e-commerce market (Reuters, 2022).
To make matters worse, the new GDPR policies have made an already overly saturated and competitive e-commerce market even more challenging. This is due to the fact that Facebook ads are no longer affordable or effective and Google analytics are now deemed illegal following. The average brand cannot afford an infinite paid marketing strategy to stand out online as a direct-to-consumer brand.

It needs to be easier for stores to partner up with new brands without any of the negative risks, or the heavy manual work involved.

Brands also need to be live in more stores in order to stand out and succeed in a sustainable way.

WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR BUSINESS?

 
We care so much about independent retail and work hard every day to empower them to have access to the same or even better tools as big box retailers in an affordable way.
A lot of us have a background in small businesses, whether they be family or friends, and know the importance they have to the communities around them.

WHAT IS YOUR MAGIC SAUCE?


Our magic sauce lies in the fact that we’re through and through passionate retailers as well as tech experts. We also have access to a deep network of experts from our Y Combinator support system, as well as Silicon Valley-based investors who’ve been there before.

WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?


Integrate more major e-commerce platforms such as Lightspeed, Square, and WooCommerce in order to find ways to empower as many independent retailers as possible and from anywhere in the world.
We’re starting with a focus on North America, then focusing on European and South-American markets.
We’re confident over the years we can have a real and data-backed impact in the retail industry, by taking market share back from big box retailers and increasing the success rates of independent retailers.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU’VE FACED SO FAR?


Building a platform from scratch is extremely hard and has its inherent challenges.
We’ve been heads-down building a bug-free and thoughtful user experience so retailers can truly enjoy using the Matagora platform and get significant value out of it.

HOW DO PEOPLE GET INVOLVED/BUY INTO YOUR VISION?


We welcome all inquiries, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via [email protected].
We are currently actively seeking out new stores and brand partners to join our platform so we can show how Matagora can empower retailers to reach new heights never thought possible before.

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