Last updated: April 8th, 2020
Written by Parag Mamnani, Founder and CEO of Webgility.
I was in my senior year studying computer science when the dot-com recession hit in 2001. The stock market took a nosedive. Many companies went bankrupt. And the 9/11 attack happened. There were no jobs. Everyone was hurting.
It’s during this time that I learned how to build ecommerce websites. I’d wake up at 6am and cold-call small business owners from the yellow pages and sell them $200 websites. After numerous rejections, I got a sale. And then another. I went on to build countless ecommerce websites and storefronts—X-cart and OScommerce were all the rage back then. That was my first startup journey working with small businesses in ecommerce. It was also a first-hand experience running a business and supporting customers on QuickBooks.
That business grew until I was managing a 50-person team. But I decided to leave my corner office in 2007 for a cubicle at Amazon to get a first-hand look at the workings of the ecommerce giant. Even back then, I was in total awe of their scale, not to mention the number of people in the room who were way smarter. I did a lot of cool stuff there and learned a lot but in the end I knew I had to get back to doing something of my own.
When the great recession of 2008 happened, I was also going through a very tough time in my personal life. I decided to take the plunge and leave Amazon. I took all my savings, sold my house, packed my bags and drove to the bay area to enjoy the luxury of an inflated mattress on the floor of my buddy’s home in San Francisco. It was during that time that Webgility became my full-time job. The economy was shrinking but I put my life savings into Webgility so I could help small retailers and ecommerce entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses through automation and better insights. It’s my dream job and, today, still my mission.
At the core, I’ve realized that I’m a risk-taker and an optimist. And I believe if you work hard at anything, you’ll achieve it. I also believe that all entrepreneurs have the same spirit. I’m sharing my story in hopes that it reminds entrepreneurs everywhere not to forget what inspired them to start their own journey. Because right now, we all need to harness that spirit.
Webility is also a small business and we’re taking measures to combat this downturn. For many retailers though, this is a matter of survival. Jobs are being lost, stores are being shut and we don’t know when they’ll get back to normal. We want to help. We want to bring all our expertise in ecommerce and QuickBooks to help retailers get their online stores started quickly and effectively. So today, we’re launching Beat It: a playbook designed to help retailers on QuickBooks start and grow in ecommerce.
The site gives you tactical steps to get started, automate your operations and transition to ecommerce swiftly. We’ll also be adding real stories from retailers to give you an up-close look at how they’re tackling this crisis.
I’ll leave all the predictions about the economy, the impact on our society and implications for government to the pundits. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that ecommerce will grow dramatically and the time to act is now.
The title of this site is inspired by Michael Jackson’s track. I’m a big fan and used to imitate his dance moves as a kid. But that’s a story for another time. Until then…
“No one wants to be defeated. Just Beat it. Just Beat it.”