By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Last year was a good one for Kyle Hungate and the Vextras team.
“We were fortunate enough to surpass some goals we set at the beginning of the year,” the Dandridge resident told us recently. The key metrics that Hungate cited, all year-over-year, included a 104 percent growth in subscribers, a 258 percent increase in subscriber revenues, and a whopping 450 percent jump in order volume.
“In the last three months of 2014, we ‘processed’ over 500,000 e-commerce orders for our clients that were worth more than $43 million in global sales,” Hungate said, explaining that ‘processed’ is a term Vextras uses to describe an order coming into its system that results in distributing out information or triggering events with its apps.
We first met Hungate in May 2014 when he participated in a rollout of the UT Federal Credit Union’s “Line 12 Micro Fund,” an initiative targeted at start-ups and established small businesses like his. Our first article about Vextras posted in May on teknovation.biz.
Hungate told us at the time that he was working in a family business when he saw a real opportunity to address a pain point for companies that decided to accept online orders. Integrating the online system into the business’ existing sales, accounting, inventory, and customer relationship management systems was not easy, so Vextras was born.
The idea was to be the “Swiss Army Knife for online retailers.” For the first few years, Hungate self-financed the company, but the opportunity to grow it faster emerged. Thanks to the UTFCU’s microloan program, he was able to secure the cash he needed add software development capability.
Hungate initially targeted Volusion, a popular software that many companies use for their online purchases. Vextras developed five apps that it started offering to link Volusion and other online apps with popular enterprise software.
“Retailers tell us how we’re helping them manage their businesses better, market smarter and sell more products,” Hungate said. “That keeps us motivated to evolve our offerings.”
So, what’s ahead for 2015?
“It will be a critical year as we plan to go live with our newest partners – Bigcommerce in Q1 and Shopify in Q4, along with a host of other upgrades to our existing apps and services,” Hungate says.
The improvements are focused on further helping Vextras’ customers drive sales and retain their eCommerce customers.
“We’re happy with what we accomplished, but we know there’s a lot of work left to do,” Hungate said.