A BigCommerce fish in a small pond

A BigCommerce fish in a small pond

Summary: Fresh from a $15 million investment windfall, Aussie-owned Texas-based company BigCommerce plans to double its Sydney engineering team to support its lofty ambitions to become the global leader in software as a service (SaaS) e-commerce applications.

TOPICS: Start-Ups

Fresh from a $15 million investment windfall, Aussie-owned Texas-based company BigCommerce plans to double its Sydney engineering team to support its lofty ambitions to become the global leader in software as a service (SaaS) e-commerce applications.

Although the company has established its global headquarters in Texas, where the sales force is based, co-founder Mitchell Harper said that its engineering team had remained in Sydney, where the company was founded two years ago.

It has ignored the trend of Australian companies to fully relocate their operations to satisfy American investors.

"We want to be a big fish in a small pond," Harper said. "We don't think there are too many sexy start-ups and software companies in Sydney."

It plans to double the 20-man team by the end of the year, with co-founder Eddie Machaalani saying that it was eyeing the top 1 per cent of Sydney's developer and engineering talent.

"We're very stringent about talent we bring in; the recruitment process is pretty tough," Machaalani said. "The top 1 per cent of people will churn out software a lot better and be a lot more innovative."

The company's web-delivered application allows companies to establish an e-commerce website. Its competitors are web giants, such as Yahoo, but it wants to be the global leader in the space, which is why it recently closed a $15 million Series A funding round with venture capital firm General Catalyst. The company thinks that there's opportunity for it, because the web giants aren't interested in that part of their business.

In just under two years, the BigCommerce customer base has grown to 20,000, Harper said, and it is growing five to six times faster than competitors (it grew ten-fold last year from 1000 to 11,000 customers).

Its software processed $200 million worth of actions last year, he said. In two years, it aims to be the number-one provider in the US and Canada, where 85 per cent of its customers are located.

However, it also plans a global expansion in mid 2012 into Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and eventually envisages a 50/50 geographic split of US and global customers.

SWOT analyis


The business is cashed up, has a huge growth rate and has a predominately American customer base.


The disinterest from web giants raises questions over the overall value of the market. The company also relies on securing and keeping top Sydney-based developers, who are a very limited resource. Operations spread across two continents and time zones could be an issue, as the company grows.


The potential exists to become the poster-boy of SaaS e-commerce.


It is competing against web giants like Yahoo, which could crush BigCommerce if they really decided to attack the market.


Taking on incumbents isn't an easy thing to do, but the $15 million war chest means that BigCommerce is armed to the teeth in this battle. The tide could turn, however, if more well-known brands decide to enter the market.

Verdict: Boom

Topic: Start-Ups

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The way that BigCommerce (a.k.a. Interspire) treat their existing customers leaves a lot to be desired. It is great to talk up your growth but if you can't keep customers you will need much more than a $15 million warchest!!
  • Agree with Rabbits. Awful customer service. With options like Shopify, there's no reason to ever consider Big Commerce.
  • Love the comments above LOL. Competitors of BigCommerce with too much time on their hands. Just look at the positive feedback in reviews, their Facebook page, etc to see why they are dominating. Haters gonna hate! Their support is fantastic.
  • I recently moved over from Interspire to Bigcommerce, I was having a couple of issues here and there and I've got to say that their customer service is nothing short of excellent. Accurate and quick, it doesn't get much better than that.
  • Im sure there are lots of great options out there - I reasearched them and decided on Big Commerce. If you have substantial knowledge of e-commerce and the internet then the net is your oyster. But if you dont, you need a guide. Big Commerce has ample video tutorials and guides to get a total beginner going with a little patience. Customer service is a unique experience for each consumer and personally I have found Big Commerce to be prompt, reliable and even happy to send a personal email at times to admit where they were unable to help. Dealing with real people in real time is the key to keeping customers happy and they do this well. The potential market for Big Commerce is massive - since they are able to nurse new clients from not knowing what ftp means right through to integrating their store with social platforms like Facebook all without the usual headache associate with tech gargon. Potentially every retailer could easily have an online store integrated with their bricks and mortar business. In the future I can see little Work at Home craft businesses starting to sell online. I've managed to launch two stores with a newborn baby and a toddler at home. Everything in its place - Big Commerce has hit the mark for me.