Amir Elaguizy, CEO and Co-Founder, Cratejoy, Inc


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Amir Elaguizy, CEO and Co-Founder, Cratejoy, Inc

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Amir Elaguizy, CEO and Co-Founder, Cratejoy

This interview is with Amir Elaguizy, CEO and Co-Founder, Cratejoy. 

Amir, welcome to Featured! Could you tell our readers a little about yourself and your journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur and CEO?

I’m Amir Elaguizy, the CEO of Cratejoy, a subscription commerce platform and a Y Combinator company. Cratejoy supports founders in building and managing their subscription businesses by providing them with comprehensive technology and tools to launch and operate successfully.

I’ve always had a passion for building and a commitment to quality. I’ve been creating software for almost as long as I’ve been alive. Before founding Cratejoy, I was the founder and CTO of MarketZero, which was acquired by Zynga in 2011. At Zynga, I served as a game CTO, where I helped develop the Zynga Poker and Zynga Bingo franchises. I’m also an alumnus of Y Combinator.

Cratejoy was born after my participation in Y Combinator S13, marking it as my second venture. The idea for Cratejoy emerged when my cofounder, Alex, and I interacted with subscription commerce founders during Y Combinator, learning about the challenges of starting a subscription business. Having been long-time customers of subscription boxes like BarkBox and BirchBox, my wife and I were surprised to hear about the difficulties subscription founders faced. Motivated by this, Alex and I decided to simplify the process, enabling anyone with a great product to start their own subscription company.

Outside of work, my hobbies include writing artificial intelligence software and multitasking by running while sending emails.

Your career path spans across sales, SEO, e-commerce, and business leadership. What key moments or decisions led you to specialize in these interconnected fields?

Throughout my career, I have been driven by a strong passion for technology and entrepreneurship. These areas have become the focal points of my professional journey, as I have made pivotal decisions and experienced defining moments that have shaped my expertise. Beginning my journey in software development at a young age laid a solid groundwork. As the founder and CTO at MarketZero, I had the opportunity to navigate the intricacies of managing a tech business. This experience also sparked my fascination with SEO and the importance of optimizing our digital presence.

The acquisition of MarketZero by Zynga was a major milestone. I was able to gain exposure to larger-scale operations and delve into deeper aspects of e-commerce within the gaming industry. I gained valuable expertise in business leadership and strategic decision-making through this experience.

Finally, I founded Cratejoy as a natural progression, bringing together my expertise in sales, SEO, and e-commerce. I was deeply impacted by my personal experiences with the difficulties that subscription business founders encountered. This motivated me to develop innovative solutions that would empower entrepreneurs in the e-commerce industry. These experiences have seamlessly woven together, reinforcing my expertise across these interconnected fields.

You mentioned the importance of delegation and outsourcing for online businesses. Can you share an example of a task you successfully delegated and the positive impact it had on your business?

In 2013, I decided to expand my team from 22 to a larger scale because I needed to effectively manage the growing operational demands. I became skilled at delegation, which was crucial for this expansion. Shifting my focus to strategic growth areas has given me the opportunity to empower my team members and encourage them to take on more responsibility. Through the delegation of tasks, I was able to create an environment at Cratejoy where every team member could contribute their unique strengths, leading to increased productivity and innovation.

You’re a proponent of using AI for voice search optimization in e-commerce. What’s one unexpected challenge you faced while implementing AI, and how did you overcome it?

Honestly, implementing AI for voice search optimization in e-commerce presented us with an unexpected challenge: the significant budget allocation required for this technology. At first, the costs exceeded our expectations, which had a significant impact on our financial planning.

In order to address this challenge, we made it a priority to strategically allocate our investments. We concentrated on key areas where AI had the potential to provide immediate benefits. Additionally, we implemented our approach in phases, beginning with pilot projects to assess the impact and refine our strategy before expanding it on a larger scale. By strategically and gradually investing, we were able to effectively manage our resources while still taking advantage of the benefits of AI for voice search optimization.

In your book recommendations, you highlighted the importance of understanding both B2B marketing and the innovative strategies employed by companies like Google. How do you see these two seemingly different areas intersecting in the future of e-commerce?

When I think about the future of e-commerce, the main way I envision business-to-business (B2B) marketing interacting with the new techniques used by firms like Google is via search engine optimization (SEO). Knowing how to use SEO is critical for B2B marketers whose e-commerce platforms are highly dependent on Google and its algorithms.

This crossroads is critical because it allows companies to maximize their online visibility, attract more targeted visitors, and optimize their online presence. Marketers targeting businesses can improve their visibility at critical points in the purchase process by implementing Google’s ever-changing SEO methods. This will allow them to tailor their platforms to the unique demands of their business clients. There will be no letup in the effectiveness and expansion of e-commerce tactics due to the complementary nature of B2B marketing and SEO.

You emphasized the value of cross-departmental workflows for maximizing digital advertising impact on a budget. What’s your advice for a small business owner struggling to establish effective collaboration between their marketing team and other departments?

My advice is to start by breaking down barriers with the right hires. The key to bridging the gap between marketing and other departments begins with who you bring on board.

Your leadership should prioritize selecting and promoting from within. People with a background in marketing and sales should be considered for open positions. Ask potential employees about their experience collaborating with other teams as part of your hiring process.

Some of Cratejoy’s most successful salespeople have backgrounds in graphic design and could easily switch gears to work in marketing if they so choose. On the flip side, we have top marketers on staff with sales experience. Team members who are fluent in both departments’ lingo and who can empathize with the special difficulties encountered by each are ideal.

People who can work well with others are the ones we aim to recruit. Our sales staff is always looking for new ways to collaborate with the marketing group and spread the word about the material they provide. Similarly, the sales team’s insights are crucial to the success of almost every project for our marketers. Our content’s tone, usage, and reach are all improved by this input from across departments, which in turn makes our campaigns more effective.

Looking back at your experiences, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about building and maintaining strong customer relationships in the e-commerce landscape?

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about building and maintaining strong customer relationships in e-commerce is that your customer service must be top-notch. In the world of e-commerce, opportunities for two-way communication between your business and your customers are limited, so it’s crucial to make those interactions count.

You have many options to choose from with the advancements in online customer support over the past few years. Tools like FAQs, customer forums, and searchable knowledge bases provide extensive information. While some businesses opt for self-service support, if you’re aiming to foster long-term online relationships, live chat and phone support are your best options.

This is because these support channels offer a direct line of communication between your support team and your customers. When your team can communicate directly with customers, they can perfectly understand and address the customers’ needs, significantly enhancing the customer experience.

What emerging trends in the e-commerce industry are you most excited about, and what opportunities do you see for businesses to capitalize on them in the coming years?

I’d be lying if I said that AI doesn’t top my list as one of the most exciting developments in our industry. I believe that by 2024, many e-commerce websites will begin to implement generative or conversational search tools, especially following the rollout of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) at the end of 2023. For e-commerce, business owners can train AI to adapt to consumer behaviors, providing more accurate and valuable information.

I’m also thrilled about the rise of hybrid commerce. Phygital, a combination of online and physical retail experiences, will dominate e-commerce in the future. In order to promote hybrid commerce or omnichannel selling, this model merges several platforms and channels to give a smooth experience. One easy way to incorporate omnichannel retailing is by using a click-and-collect system. Buyers can use this service, which goes by the acronym “BOPIS,” to make online purchases and then pick them up at a physical store or designated pickup location.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve worked in this field for a long time. Feel free to ask me anything you want to know about business, subscription commerce, or the future of the subscription model and e-commerce. If you want to start your own subscription business or just want to know how to make money, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help.

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