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How This Startup Supercharges Growth for DTC Brands

Need to get your e-commerce company to the next stage of growth? Now there’s a platform for that.

Yaguara officially launched on Oct. 25 as an e-commerce growth management platform—the first of its kind, it claims—designed to help unite disparate individuals across disparate teams all align toward common goals and objectives. On the company’s blog, co-founder and CEO Jonathan Smalley admitted that he got the idea for Yaguara in part because he “was obsessed with the unified components of basketball” teams from his childhood days of witnessing individuals working together for a singular purpose. What’s more, the platform is underpinned by the fast-held belief that “being a high-performing team takes a balance of the qualitative and quantitative,” per Smalley’s blog post.

The company already has partnered with 100+ e-commerce firms in the 18 months prior to launch, 70 percent of which sell apparel, footwear and accessories. Yaguara employs machine learning (ML) to keep tabs on a team’s stated goals, taking the pulse on progress—much like how a fitness tracker continuously monitors inputs, it said—to understand how these efforts relate to wider corporate objectives. It helps users tweak things along the way if it predicts that current activities will fail to meet pre-set goals.

Yaguara, which Crunchbase says has raised $800,000 to date, is flexible with how users define growth. Maybe it’s multiplying traffic to social platforms like Facebook and Instagram (integration with Twitter is in the works) or improving conversion and checkout rates. Or, perhaps users want to hit a particular annual revenue target or reach a specific range for average order values.

So far, Yaguara doesn’t have any direct competitors, though that may change as e-commerce tech investments keep pace with the space. Unlike traditional performance management tools, Yaguara focuses on business goals rather than individual HR goals, the company said, and unlike business intelligence and dashboarding tools, it uses the simple paradigm of goals to help users have context for using their data more proactively and intelligently without having to be high technical, power users.

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Kristen Luppino, people operations manager at two-year-old flower delivery startup UrbanStems, said her company’s “high priority” on managing growth goals was undercut by the “frustration” that came along with the less-than-effective tools used to evaluate those goals. “Yaguara has allowed us to seamlessly create the structure we have strived to build, while allowing us to focus on what matters, growing the company,” she explained in prepared remarks.

“With Yaguara, we will be able to create a clear focus for teams and individuals, so all parties know what they are responsible for and how their performance affects the success and growth of the company as a whole,” Luppino added.

Yaguara focuses on mid-market and rapidly growing, digitally native direct-to-consumer brands such as Pondichérie, two-year-old purveyor of ethical women’s fashion; Thursday Boot Co., which recently opened its first physical store in SoHo; and the aforementioned Urban Stems. Though both omnichannel and pure-play e-tailers are interested in growing their commerce online, it’s that much more important for businesses without a real-world presence, whose only revenue stems from digital channels. Plus, data shows 2018 projected e-commerce growth outpacing that of store channels, 16 percent to just 4.4 percent, per data from eMarketer and NRF, respectively.

Yaguara wants to be the tool that helps young online brands keep their growth on an upward trajectory, and to date integrates with platforms like Shopify and Woo Commerce on the commerce end; Google for ads and analytics; Mailchimp and Klaviyo for email marketing; Stripe for payments; and Intuit Quickbooks for financial operations. The company has integrations with Magento, Bing Ads, Asana and Zendesk in the pipeline.

“At Yaguara, one thing we quickly realized is that setting and measuring goals is harder than most companies think. There are tons of different frameworks, each accompanied with their own pros and cons,” Smalley said in a statement. “We set out to demystify the process and take the guesswork out of goal-setting.

“Through ML-driven insights and tool integrations, our holistic platform can recommend company-wide objectives, assign tasks, present real-time performance, share predictive insights, and much more,” Smalley noted.

Yaguara takes its name from the Amazonian tribal word for “jaguar,” which means “beast of prey,” and which the company hopes captures the spirit of the platform: elegance and power.