Ecommerce entrepreneur targets Scotland

An entrepreneur based in California is looking to scale up his tech business, which helps retailers boost online sales, and strengthen its presence in his native Scotland after securing a seven-figure funding round from Silicon Valley investors.

Finbarr Taylor is the chief executive and co-founder of Shogun, a drag-and-drop page builder for ecommerce websites.

Glasgow-born, Dumfries-raised Finbarr Taylor is the chief executive and co-founder of Shogun, a “drag-and-drop” visual page builder for ecommerce websites. He said its DIY offering is tapping into the fact that many online retailers lack the in-house expertise to build their websites themselves and often lack the resources to pay for such a service.

The San Francisco-based firm was founded in 2015 and is generating turnover in the millions of dollars, Taylor told Scotland on Sunday. Its main sector is clothing brands, with customers including US yoga-focused Gaiam and Danish jewellery brand Pilgrim.

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The firm has raised $2.1 million (£1.7m) in a seed funding round from Initialized Capital, Y Combinator and several other investors.

Taylor studied computer science at the University of Strathclyde and after graduating moved to California with the aim of starting his own company.

He said that the signing up of customers really picked up pace after the business launched on Shopify, which helps retailers build better online storefronts. In May 2017, he went full time with the business “and since then it’s just continued to grow”. Its largest market is the US, followed by the UK.

Last year, between May and November, it tripled in size, and it was given $120,000 by US seed accelerator Y Combinator, which has invested in Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit.

The company has “just grown and grown and grown”, Taylor said. Revenues leapt by 500 per cent between 2017 and 2018, with the chief executive hoping for similar growth next year. And the team is approaching the 25 mark, having grown by about six-fold this year alone, and expected to double in the next year. All staff work remotely and are distributed across about a dozen countries including Canada, Brazil, India, France – with one technical support team member in Glasgow.

Taylor outlined plans to increase its focus on and grow headcount in Scotland to capitalise on the highly skilled workforce and growing ecosystem, while new product features are on the cards to help brands improve their ecommerce strategy.

Its largest investor is Initialized Capital. Its co-founder and managing partner Alexis Ohanian, who also co-founded Reddit, said Shogun is “solving a big problem in a fast-growing market segment”.

In another few years, Taylor would like to see everyone with an ecommerce store using its tool. “That’s where we’d really like to be.”