Simon chats with Holly Cardew, Founder and CEO of Pixc.

Show Notes

Pixc is an Image Editing company helping e-commerce stores produce high quality images using their software and without needing additional resources.

You can contact Holly here:


Simon Dell: Welcome to the show, Holly Cardew. How are you?

Holly Cardew: I’m great, thanks. Thanks for having me today.

Simon Dell: Awesome. You’re in Melbourne at the moment, aren’t you? Because we’ve just had a conversation where I guessed all the spaces that you were, and you weren’t in any of them.

Holly Cardew: Yes, I’m in Melbourne this week. 

Simon Dell: And how is sunny Melbourne in autumn?

Holly Cardew: It is actually sunny, and surprisingly, it’s going to be quite warm today, but they say four seasons in a day, and it is very true. You need to have different outfits for different times of the day.

Simon Dell: Oh, god. I hate Melbourne. But not only for that reason. Now, as I alluded to, I kind of tried to guess where you were, and you’ve sort of said to me that you tend to be all over the place because you, as the boss and CEO of Pixc, have a distributed and remote team. I guess what we want to do is start off by explaining what that actually is.

Holly Cardew: Yeah. It’s a question I get asked a lot because it is a challenge. “Where is your HQ?” Of course, on paper, we’re registered in multiple locations. But we are a distributed team. And what that means is that there is no one physical office where everybody comes every day. We have people who are around the world, literally: in Europe, in America, in Asia and Australia who all work on the team, product, customer service, and marketing.

Simon Dell: Okay, and how many people would that be?

Holly Cardew: We have about 20 people at the moment, including some part-time contractors.

Simon Dell: And roughly how many locations have you got those across?

Holly Cardew: 12 locations.

Simon Dell: Any sort of really unusual ones that we should know about? Not unusual people, I mean unusual locations.

Holly Cardew: I think the most unusual location that I had last year was a contractor working from Georgetown.

Simon Dell: I don’t even know. Where is Georgetown?

Holly Cardew: It is in South America, so very different. Very small country. And so, that was very different for me. But I would say most people, we have engineers over in Europe, so the UK, Berlin. We have contact people in America. We have people in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Australia. Lots of different places.

Simon Dell: Are there some that you’ve never met?

Holly Cardew: Yes. There are, actually. And it was funny because some people I’ve been working with for four years, three to four years, and I haven’t met them. And last year, I made a conscious effort to meet people, and I think I’ve met about 15 out of the 20, so quite a lot, which is quite good.

Simon Dell: What’s the biggest challenge? I guess, to a degree, it’s a bit of a language challenge, although I suspect English is a fairly… Most people have a fairly decent level of English that are working with you. But what are some of the other bigger challenges dealing with a distributed team like that?

Holly Cardew: We’ve done it quite well in terms of our communication. We have regular meetings. I think the biggest challenge would be is the cultural barriers. You need to find people who have the same sort of mindset, in a way, even though they come from different backgrounds.

But at the end of the day, people have different work ethics, or they have different mentalities, or the way they’ve grown up has been very different to Western culture. You can pick out people who have a similar mindset, who can work really well together, but it is still a bit of a challenge.

I’ll say that the Eastern Europeans are very straightforward and then people in Asia will be very polite. So, I think giving people permission, and this is what I try and build my teams, giving people permission to speak up and giving them permission to fail and make mistakes. Because in some countries or some cultures, it’s not accepted to make a mistake. It’s not accepted to speak up to your boss, or your team members, or your manager. So, I really encourage that.

Simon Dell: I guess the thing a lot of people look at with distributed remote teams is their struggle to understand whether people are actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Obviously, it’s difficult for people to let go of that concept that if someone’s coming into the office for eight hours, they know they’re there for eight hours, and they know what they’re going to be working on for those eight hours. How do you deal with that kind of management of making sure people are actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing?

Holly Cardew: I get this question quite a bit as well. For me, it’s really about building that trust and it comes back to your values. So, the values of the company, and one of our big ones is trust and honesty, and being transparent. And also, the other thing is that as a founder, or as a CEO, or boss, or manager, I’m not about how many hours you sit at your desk. That doesn’t mean anything to me. Somebody could sit at a desk in an office in Melbourne. It doesn’t mean that they’re productive.

So, I’m all about the output. We have goals, weekly goals, monthly goals in different teams, and we’re all working towards those goals. And if I see someone who’s not working towards those goals or who is not becoming better at their job, or striving to improve, improve their team, improve the people around them, then I realize that it’s not working and that’s when we decide to part ways.

Simon Dell: Let’s talk about Pixc because that was one of the points we were hearing. We haven’t actually mentioned them yet. Just for the benefit of everybody listening, Pixc in this sense is spelt P-I-X-C and the domain is Give us the 30-second rundown as to what Pixc actually does, because it’s got a very, very specific kind of use.

Holly Cardew: We do have a very specific use, and what we do is we automate image editing and image processing for online merchants. So, we connect directly with their e-commerce store. We’re able to pull all of their content, fix it using algorithms and designers on demand and push it back within 24 hours.

Simon Dell: Just for the simple-minded who are perhaps listening to that, that really is something like an e-commerce store uploading a photo that they’ve taken of, let’s say, a handbag that they’re wanting to sell, and that your system, your algorithm, is going to remove all the background, clean it up, make it look presentable for the e-commerce store.

Holly Cardew: Yes. You are very good at pitching, Simon.

Simon Dell: I may have actually done some research for this one, Holly. I think it’s a fantastic piece of technology. And the other thing earlier on, I said that you were the CEO. Am I right with that or is there a CEO…? You were the founder, but is there a different CEO or do you act as the CEO as well?

Holly Cardew: I act as the CEO as well.

Simon Dell: Okay, cool. So, I have interviewed people where the CEO isn’t necessarily the founder in some startups, which you can find. Before we go in depth into Pixc and understand that and how that started, you have a fairly comprehensive background in e-commerce, which, when you look at your background, sort of kind of appeared out of nowhere.

I can see that you’ve got a business development manager job, and somehow, within that, you’ve ended up in an e-commerce space. Explain to me your first taste of e-commerce and how that all happened.

Holly Cardew: Funny you mention that. There’s some things I can’t put on LinkedIn, and one of them is, and you wouldn’t have found it, is when I was 14, I started selling handbags on eBay. A long time ago, I realized there was not really many online stores, and the handbags that I wanted were from France, and everybody at high school had them, and the only place you could get it was David Jones.

And I knew in France it was about half the price, and I just thought it was absolutely ridiculous that David Jones could have such a high mark up on it. I probably didn’t understand tax at that point of time, and import duties, and all those things, but I still thought it was crazy.

Simon Dell: At 14 years old, you don’t really care, do you? “Import duty shit? Yeah, no. Forget that.”

Holly Cardew: I decided to get my friend to send me some handbags and I sold them on eBay, and I realized they would go really quickly. And so, I was really interested in that. I think also, at a very young age, I mean, even younger, maybe. When I was 12, my mom was using Woolworths to shop online because there were three of us and she just couldn’t do work full-time, and rush to the supermarket, and do everything.

So, she would get our groceries delivered, and she would show me how it worked, and she would make her wish list sort of thing. They would have the order history on there. So, from a young age, I was very interested in online and the internet, of course. I had a part-time job, actually. I don’t know if you know this company, but Appliances Online. So, I was employee #8.

Funnily enough, and I totally forgot about this, because it was only a part-time job. I was uploading product images for their website, and I was putting on all the watermarks, and I was doing all the listings. So, I really liked the side of e-commerce. And then the biggest problem that I saw as well was there was so much manual work involved in running a store.

And what was happening is that there were these traditional retailers who wanted to be online. And they were really good at in-store retail. They were good at sourcing products. They were good at being with their customer. They had no idea how to Photoshop an image. They had no idea how to write a product description. They had no idea how to upload it onto a website.

And so, all of these things compounded and that’s when I started actually helping build e-commerce stores while I was living in remote Australia.

Simon Dell: Back to your eBay days, because I’m quite interested in the 14-year-old girl that decided she’s going to start importing handbags from France. Was that doing it on your own pocket money, or did you tap up your parents for a loan? You said you had a friend in France. Were you sort of doing that on consignment, so that you weren’t paying them until you’re solved at the other end?

Holly Cardew: No. It was no full-fledged business, unfortunately. I’ve been very independent from a very young age and have never asked my parents for any money other than my pocket money, and at that time, it would’ve been, I don’t know, $50 or $20 a week. I can’t remember. Or maybe it was $50 a month. There, I turned 14 in 9 months, which is the legal age to work. I worked at McDonald’s and I’ve had a job ever since. And prior to that, I was helping friends pack sponges for their cleaning company. Like, I always knew the value of working and getting money in return.

Simon Dell: Where did you pick that up from? Is that something that your parents taught you or is that just…

Holly Cardew: I don’t know.  They didn’t really, it probably was the opposite. But I think I don’t like to rely on people. I think that’s what it came down to. I do know my mum tells me, at a very young age, when I was 2, I would walk around saying, “I do it myself.” And I think that’s always been the case. Like, I can do these things by myself.

I think I need to learn to rely on people more, because sometimes it can have its downsides, but I think it really helped me to go work, and get a job, and do whatever I wanted to. My parents always said to me that I can do whatever I want or be whatever I want even if they can’t give me the opportunity because they don’t necessarily have the money to fund it. It’s all possible, and I think I really saw that from a young age.

Simon Dell: How is Maccas as a job? It’s one of the ones I’ve never done, but…

Holly Cardew: It was great.

Simon Dell: It was good?

Holly Cardew: It was really good. Do you know why? The system’s changed now when I go into McDonald’s, but you had 60 seconds countdown on your computer to take an order and deliver it to the customer. Again, at a young age, you saw this whole process that they had, and they had rules, and set schedules to things, and it really taught you, “Okay. I’ve got 60 seconds. I take the order within 20 seconds and I deliver it within 40 seconds that are left.” And I think that was amazing. So, I actually thought it was a good chance for me to learn about processes and the way things work.

Simon Dell: You’ve obviously done a lot in e-commerce starting from the days of selling handbags on eBay through to where you are now. I think you had yourself a little agency as well that was helping other people get online at some point. Was that right?

Holly Cardew: Yeah, more as a freelancer/contractor. But yes, I did do that for quite a while.

Simon Dell: You obviously still understand the space probably better than most people out there. When you look at e-commerce now, if someone wanted to go into an e-commerce space now, what sort of advice would you be giving them?

Holly Cardew: I think going into e-commerce, there’s so many brands and companies that are still not online. What you need to do is you need to build a brand. So many people just put up an online store and they don’t create any content or any marketing material around a brand. They just have a product.

And gone are the days where you go to a trade fair and you have a product, and down the road, another shop has the same product. You need to be able to differentiate yourself, otherwise, consumers can just jump around from different stores to see who have the best price, or the best shipping deal.

Of course, you need to provide that, but I think there are people who are really loyal to a brand, consumers who are loyal to brands. And so, if you can build a brand around your product, even if it’s not your own individual product, people will come and be attracted to that.

Simon Dell: I’m also interested. You’ve worked with all the different platforms out there, and I had a little note here that sort of had, what I would consider, the three major platforms, and talking about the pros and cons of them. And I suspect we could probably go into this for an hour, but I’m just kind of interested to understand your thoughts on WordPress, versus Magento, versus Shopify.

I don’t necessarily want you to say which one is the best. I just want to understand from your perspective where you would direct people to go if they were starting a business, or growing a business, that kind of thing.

Holly Cardew: I think it really depends on the needs of the company that’s starting the store. Shopify is great because it’s fully hosted. I get quite involved in forums, and Facebook groups, and I see people saying, “Oh, I want to start an online store. I’m going to start with WordPress.” WordPress is fantastic if you want to be able to do everything.

But if you were non-technical and you don’t have a technical person in store or in your team who is going to spend their time managing, and building, and coding, then don’t start with WordPress. You want to make all these custom changes. The worst thing is that I love WordPress, and it’s WooCommerce that plugs into WordPress to create the online store.

It’s extremely powerful, but you do need someone who is going to code for you, and you do need to look after  your own security. Whereas if you go to something like Shopify, they manage all the security. They manage all the hosting. And when I say hosting, it means that if you have a sudden spike during Christmas, your website isn’t going to crash because Shopify looks after those services. 

Whereas WordPress, you might say, “I’m starting out. I’m just going to go to a small hosting company. I’m going to get a small server.” And then it crashes. Or somebody hacks your database, and it can actually get really expensive. So, some people look at Shopify and they say it’s expensive, but then they don’t think of the actual cost of having a developer full-time.

And then Magento is really for someone who is building a larger store that has multiple warehouses and facilities where they need to connect multiple stores and multiple distribution centres, which Shopify have now brought up Shopify Plus for enterprise. So, they are competing on that level. So, more and more people are moving from Magento to Shopify Plus, but also, some people are staying on Magento just because that’s what they know.

And then the other option is something like BigCommerce which was started here in Australia which is similar to Shopify. They’re quite good for B2B, so if you’re a wholesaler wanting to sell to other retailers, and then there is also Neto, they’re actually based in Queensland. They’re good as well. They’re good for Australia with their shipping options. I’ve spoken to some people who have used Neto specifically for their shipping.

And then for someone who’s starting out selling one or two products, like you want to sell an e-book or something, you can start with something very small like Squarespace Ecommerce.

Simon Dell: There’s a lot of good tools out there now. I think a lot of people get caught up by overanalysing what they should be using. I actually think what you’ve just said there in a few minutes actually really sums them all up very, very well. What are some of the other tools that you use out there? And I mean, not just within Pixc, but some of the other similar things, core online tools that you think people should look at and people should use. 

Holly Cardew: There are so many tools. That’s a hard question. There’s so many different ones depending on what you need. I think when I started out in e-commerce, I didn’t even know to have a support desk. I just used our normal email. So, I think setting up live chat and customer support is really important. You can use Zendesk, You can use Intercom. There’s a ton of different chat tools out there.

Simon Dell: We’re using Intercom with a client, and they really like that. I think those two are top of the pile at the moment.

Holly Cardew: Yeah, definitely. There’s also Drift which is competitive to Intercom. I think what’s interesting about e-commerce is not many people take advantage of a live chat. They just say, “Oh, we don’t have enough time. There’s so many questions.”

And it’s like, if it closed more sales, wouldn’t you try it? so, even if you turn it on for three days  a week or even if you turn it on for a month and see what happens, or turn it on two hours in the morning, it’s just that opportunity to actually talk to your customer.

And the other thing is people are missing by not having support or live chat, is that when somebody asks for a product or something that they’re looking for, and you think it’s obvious, you think ,”Oh, yeah, it’s there stashed under T-shirt category or the Cup category.” But they couldn’t find it. So, that actually gives you insights into what you should be changing with your website.

I think the other things going on insights is Hotjar. Hotjar is like a heat map tracking tool. So, that can be really good, and you can track funnels, and see what people are doing. 

Simon Dell: That’s a rabbit warren, for me, Hotjar. Because once you start recording people’s visits, you’re just sitting there going, “I’ll watch this one.” And then you watch another one. And all of a sudden, hours have gone by and you’ve watched god knows how many Hotjar recordings. And you get great insights from them, but the struggle I have with Hotjar is it tends to create more questions than it answers for me.

Holly Cardew: I think that’s all analytics and metrics software, which is quite hard. That’s why you set up funnels on Hotjar to see. I’m not sure if you’ve used the feature, but somebody lands on the page and signs up for an account. And how many people drop off at which stage or which stage? So, you try and lead them through a funnel. So, that can help with your UX design.

Simon Dell: Right. Okay. What about in use in marketing automation? Anything that you’ve sort of seen in that space that you’d recommend?

Holly Cardew: We definitely use Intercom for our marketing automation, so not just our live chat. We’d access our CRM and then we can have different schedule, different messaging for them. We still use MailChimp. And lately, we’ve been using LeadPages. So, LeadPages has been really good for us because they’re expanding into sites, and creating websites, and things like that.

But what’s been really handy about LeadPages is because our front-end is custom-developed by our engineering team. It’s quite challenging for a marketing person to just go in there and create stuff. So, when we create a page on LeadPages, it automatically pops up onto our website domain.

So, now, we can build all of these pages. We can A/B test any of them. We can create them however we want to create them. We can have opt-ins and we can have them sitting on our domain. So, that’s been really powerful as well.

Simon Dell: You mentioned analytics. What do you look at in terms of understanding visitor data and things like that? Are you one of those sort of people who checks it every day or every hour?

Holly Cardew: Not that much. I wish I had that much time. I do get a report to my email every day from our database that has an overview of a lot of different numbers, but it’s quite good because it compares on the previous week, that date from the previous week, and then also reports monthly. What we’re really looking at is new visitors, customer retention, and you have the returning visitors which is part of the retention piece.

Simon Dell: And again, I’m sure you don’t want to share data, but what sort of lifetime do you have for your users? Are they people that come in and use it for a couple of weeks or do you generally… Once Pixc gets the hooks in people, you’ve kind of got them for a long time?

Holly Cardew: Yeah. Our core customer is usually around the three to four years. They are a medium-sized business. I mean, it’s still quite challenging to see because some people may be a VP of e-commerce at a company. And so, technically, their lifetime may be two years but actually they move onto another company and they pick us up again at another company. That’s quite a challenge for us to accurately calculate the lifetime value of the customer, but our core customer, we’ve had customers be with us from the first year that we started.

Simon Dell: Let’s take that opportunity to talk a little bit about Pixc. With that in mind, how do you guys find new clients? What are the core channels from a marketing perspective that drive new signups for you?

Holly Cardew: Our core channels are content marketing. So, our blog, e-books, and also marketing with partners. So, with other Shopify teams or other software companies that have a similar customer. We also get a lot of leads from our App Store, so from, for example, the Shopify app store. We have a plugin with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Magento.

That drives quite a bit of traffic. And then we also do sales outreach, so reaching out to stores or reaching out to businesses that we know who will need our services. So, they’re our main three channels, but we also do some testing. We haven’t really done any paid ads. We also do do some testing within forums and different Facebook groups.

Simon Dell: I’m interested to understand the outreach one, because I’m one of the people that is on generally the end of the outreach emails from software companies like yourself.

Holly Cardew: So, am I.

Simon Dell: When I do strategy sessions now with clients, big or small, I actually now have a line in the strategy discussion about outreach and email outreach. Because it’s a —  they’re dirty words, to a degree, but I don’t think people can afford to ignore them now as a potential lead and business generation tool.

Because we’ve actually started responding to some. Sometimes, we get them through now and we actually go, “You know what? That’s actually a pretty good tool.” And how do you phrase an outreach email that doesn’t end up with a string of expletives coming back to you?

Holly Cardew: We make it quite targeted. We have lots of different approaches because not one approach is ever right, and it’s always changing. And in the five years that I’ve been in business, it’s really changed. People used to respond more, but now everyone gets emails.

We look for specific patterns, and a pattern would be a core customer that uses us, they also go to a trade fair as a certain time of the year. And before that trade fair, they needed to prepare their image catalogue or their product catalogue. Therefore, we reach out three months before that trade fair and we mention that trade fair and mention that we can help them with a certain problem.

So, it’s quite specific but we do know also that if that person goes to that trade fair and has a stall at that trade fair, then they’re more likely to have money to spend on this sort of thing. So, there are certain patterns, and you just need to try different things, unfortunately. You need to target them so we can target people who have their images edited, or haven’t edited their images before. So, all sorts of companies.

Simon Dell: Do some of them take it quite badly that you’re telling them their images need some work?

Holly Cardew: Previously, some have, but most people know that it’s not good enough and they’re desperate to get more sales or more conversations. So, they would do anything it takes.

Simon Dell: Back to the start of Pixc. Where did the name come from? I sense from the laughter there’s going to be an interesting story here. The other thing I was going to say is: Did the name come before you found the domain, or was this one of those things where you just went, “Shit. We’ll name it anything now just so we can find a domain that works.”

Holly Cardew: Between you and I, and all these podcast listeners, I don’t love our name. I did it because I drew up a landing page and was like, “I need something.” And I was like, “It’s magic, it’s pictures, it’s like the fairy that helps you. Bang, done.” And that was it, and then you can’t go back. I mean, you can go back, but you can’t really go back. And so, when you ask me, I kind of cringe.

Simon Dell: There’s some big brands that have renamed, but yes, you’re right. It’s challenge doing that.

Holly Cardew: It is a challenge doing that, I think, and everybody on this podcast can hear it, that I think over time, like Adobe has multiple products, we will have multiple products. So, Adobe is Adobe but they have Photoshop, they have InDesign, they have Business Catalyst. They have a lot of different products. I think that’s the direction that we would take. We do have a good brand name and brand presence in the ecosystem, and I don’t think it’s right to change it right now. 

Simon Dell: I don’t dislike it. I think it’s quite fun. When you’ve actually just drawn the link there between it’s magic and et cetera, I kind of get that now. That perhaps didn’t jump out at me in the first instance. This is strange, because I’ve never offered a criticism like this to anybody else’s business on the podcast. I normally try and stay neutral.

But obviously, I see it as you would. I see a lot of good online tools that people are using. And I think probably from my perspective, the only thing that I think you guys are missing is actually bringing that brand alive in the website. 

Holly Cardew: Interesting, because we’re working on that right now.

Simon Dell: Cool. Because I look at the way MailChimp do it, and we all begrudgingly say, “Oh yeah, we’re all using MailChimp.” And the way that MailChimp do it, the way that Slack do it… We’ve started using for a couple of clients, Drip. The whole ecosystem feels like it’s filled with their personality, whereas yours kind of doesn’t a little bit.

Holly Cardew: That’s exactly what we’re working on with our designer at the moment, is bring it more alive. So, I’m glad you said that. Otherwise, I would be wasting money and time.

Simon Dell: Please don’t hate me, Holly. Please don’t hate me.

Holly Cardew: I’m really excited. I’m going to contact you afterwards and see what you think.

Simon Dell: Oh, I’m excited to see it now because it’s good that… It’s really cool that that’s something you guys have identified to sort of bring alive, but that’s really cool.

Holly Cardew: I think it’s really important. I think no one tells you when you’re starting out to have a good and strong brand. And I know it’s hard because you don’t really value it at the beginning. It doesn’t necessarily give you customers straight away. It doesn’t necessarily give you return on investment straight away.

But I think it’s one thing. I was speaking to the founder of another e-commerce platform, and he said to me, “I wish we branded or focused on branding a lot earlier on.” And they’ve been around now for about 12 years, and they only rebranded not in terms of name but in terms of image look and feel, probably three years ago. And he was like, “We just didn’t spend enough time or attention on it.” And that’s his one regret.

Simon Dell: To be honest with you, MailChimp only did last year. They kept the chimp but they changed the whole look and feel. And I think the other thing they did was they changed their language; the way that they talk and the way that they… I think that’s another thing that a lot of online startups don’t great right, is that personality is brand, is colour, is logo, but it’s also a language. Slack have taught us that in the last two or three years that you can really bring a brand alive just by what language you’re using.

Holly Cardew: Yeah, we’re doing our language as well. So, we’re doing it simultaneously. I’m really excited that you brought this up because I’m going to show you… Just get your criticism on it.

Simon Dell: And just to add to that, not necessarily about yourself, but when people look at Slack, it’s the attention to detail from Slack. When you download their updates to their app on your phone, they are often really quite comical. Somebody with a sense of humour is actually writing them. And I don’t think every brand has to have a sense of humour like that, because that’s really hard to do, but just little bits of personality here and there make a massive difference to communication with the end user.

Holly Cardew: That’s true.

Simon Dell: The other thing I wanted to ask you about was the whole technical side of Pixc. And two questions here. Did you have any kind of tech experience building a product like this? I mean, I know you’ve got e-commerce experience prior to this, but any real sort of tech experience? And if you did or didn’t, how did you take that forward, and then how was it actually built? What sort of… I guess the question is, what sort of language was it built in? All those kind of things. The technical side of it.

Holly Cardew: I didn’t really have any technical experience. I did, prior to Pixc, try to build three websites. One I’d outsourced to an agency in Sydney when I was quite young, and that was a failure. One I outsourced to a web development offshore company, and that was a failure.

All I understood was what I needed to build, but not how to build it, and then I was so frustrated because I had spent so much money the first two times, that the third time, I actually built a WordPress website for an online marketplace that I built. And was good because it sort of forced me to build something basic and go out and get a customer.

And then with Pixc, because I had that initial experience, I put up the first landing page, again, using WordPress. It did teach me those small things about putting up a page, or a website on a server, and hosting it. But the one thing that I couldn’t do was we didn’t have any login system for our customers, and then I got a developer to put in a PayPal button.

So, our first website was literally a form with your name, email address, and a link to your Dropbox. And then we would edit the photos, and send them back, and they would pay by PayPal or I’d send them a PayPal invoice.

Simon Dell: And you were editing them manually? So, if somebody was doing that with Photoshop…

Holly Cardew: Yes. My order to myself was never to edit any photos myself. So, I’d find designers online and get them to help. And now, we have engineering teams, still a very small engineering team. Sergei, our lead engineer, has built the side in NodeJS, JavaScript, and Angular on front-end. He’s built most of it.

I was speaking to a friend today, actually, he’s like it’s amazing how much Sergei’s built. Because really, he has built all of our app integrations, our web app integrations. We don’t have a mobile app yet, but we are mainly focused on web apps at the moment just because we can integrate directly with the store.

Simon Dell: And I don’t mean this to any way kind of rude or condescending, but how much of that do you understand? And I say that from having gone through tech startups myself. I understood none of it, and I actually regret not understanding any of it. I mean, I’m never going to be able to program in NodeJS. I can barely write HTML, but I wish I kind of got a bit more immersed in actually understanding the tech side of it.

Holly Cardew: Yeah, I would like to learn more. I think it’s important to understand what are your core skill sets and how can you add the most value. I think what’s interesting about my mind is that I understand how things could work and where could have shortcuts. And I’ll ask particular questions or think about other ways in which we could do something.

Not that I understand the technical side, but I can ask an engineer, “Well, have you thought about doing this, this, or this?” or “Why do you want to do it that way?” And then understanding why they want to do it that way and be like, “Oh, but you haven’t thought about this thing that we need to do.” And then they’d be like, “Oh, yeah.”

And so, I don’t understand the technical, but I understand how something should work. It’s a very weird concept, but it’d be great if I understood more, because then I could really check more things to see if there’s a more efficient way of doing something. But at least if I ask the questions why they’re doing it a certain way, I find that really helps to challenge them.

Simon Dell: I think there’s a balance, obviously, between you learning too much and then not trusting the people that are telling you what’s happening as well. If you continue to undermine them by educating yourself, what’s the point of having people here?

Holly Cardew: Definitely.

Simon Dell: Last three questions. I normally ask people about their favourite brand, but with you, I am obviously going to ask you about your favourite e-commerce store. And it can be one of your clients, if you want it to be.

Holly Cardew: It’s not going to be one of my clients, but…

Simon Dell: But I’d like to know what kind of excites you when you look at e-commerce stores.

Holly Cardew: That’s a challenge. But I do absolutely love, and I’ve only realized this because I’ve moved and bought so many appliances, is Appliances Online. They are incredible in that they have such a wide range. If you need a fridge tomorrow, you can call them now or you can jump on the store, online store. You can see if it’s in stock to your post code and they will deliver it the next day. 

The other thing is, if you pull them up and say, “I really need this.” They will do anything they possibly can to get it on a truck. They will come and deliver it to you. So, a lot of it is around the customer service, but it’s also around the logistics. How do you have and deliver a fridge within less than 24 hours to somebody?

You have to have that distribution, and they also have a very good customer service team in terms of telling you the differences between the appliances. Because you can look at a million different fridge images, and I know I sell images, then something like this, it is a challenge because what is the true difference between a Westinghouse fridge and a Simpson fridge that is probably around the same price?

Like, you don’t know really know. Whereas they can quickly look. I think that they need to build a comparison side by side that highlights those things, but I know that they’re constantly trying to improve their technology. Right now, that’s one of my favourite stores.

Simon Dell: Right. Obviously, you’re not buying fridges every day. So, is there any e-commerce stores that you use on a regular basis that you go back to for consumer products, or food, or fashion, or anything like that that’s a must visit for you?

Holly Cardew: The other one is, for my dog, I use Pet Circle. That’s probably one that I’d go back to. They have a recurring subscription model for certain products like dog food or dog treats, and you can select how often you would like the product. They also have a pretty fast turnaround in terms of shipping. The longest I’ve ever waited is 2 days, which I think is great.

And then the other one that I really like is Adore Beauty. Adore Beauty sell beauty products, and again, you can order in subscription, so they know for example if you buy shampoo. You can order on subscription. But they have this really good thing if you spend over $50, not only do you get free shipping, you get to choose three free samples.

And then if you spend over $120, they send you a full goodie bag of products. I am that sucker who tries and doesn’t buy stuff necessarily for the packaging. But if I try a little sample and I like it, I will buy it. I think that’s worked really well for their business.

Simon Dell: Clearly, they’re doing something right there. Okay, second to last question. What’s planned for the rest of 2019 for you? Any sort of features? You’ve mentioned the rebranding, the repositioning of Pixc, but anything else that’s coming, that’s new?

Holly Cardew: We are really looking at improving our product for our user and seeing what else we can automate in their store for them. I’m not going to say more, but that’s our direction, is: How can we help our customers do more than just their photos?

Simon Dell: Okay, secretive, right. Okay, I get it. Very last question then. If anybody wants to talk to you around either e-commerce or that distributed, remote teams concept, or they just want advice, or they just want to say hello, if they just want to connect, what’s the best way to do that with you?

Holly Cardew: I’m on Twitter, and I’m @hollyccc. And I’m on LinkedIn, Holly Cardew. Otherwise, you can email me, [email protected].

Simon Dell: Cool, awesome. Holly, thank you very much for your time today. It’s been very eye-opening. We have a few e-commerce clients ourselves that we are working through things with. Most of the questions I’ve asked you are personal questions, but to our clients, to see if they can help us. But really, really appreciate your time being on the show, and good luck for the rest of the year.

Holly Cardew: Thanks for having me.

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