Ecommerce / Startups

Meet the Columbia-based Y Combinator alums looking to make ecommerce simple

Zentail is growing its office in Columbia, and has some bold Amazon Prime Day predictions.

Zentail cofounders Daniel Sugarman and Daniel Sperling-Horowitz. (Courtesy photo)

Columbia startup Zentail helps companies sell across multiple ecommerce channels, whether it’s eBay, or Amazon.
After going through Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator in 2012, cofounders Daniel Sugarman and Daniel Sperling-Horowitz returned to Maryland and began an ecommerce business that sold through the big marketplaces. But it was the technology they built to automate processes that ended up becoming the product that exists today after it impressed employees of, where they became a top-5 seller.
Zentail’s growth has come as bigger sites like Google and Amazon growing their marketplace model for third-party sellers, merchants and retailers are embracing all of those ecommerce sites as part of their strategy. Zentail offers “an operating system for ecommerce,” according to Sugarman, allowing companies to manage data in one place as well as orders and pricing, as well as offering analytics.
It’s designed for the merchants that grow enough sales where they expand to selling in multiple marketplaces, and can benefit from having a single spot to track the goods that it is moving. The company’s mostly U.S–based clients, which it said number “several hundred,” have sold an average of $1 million in “gross market value,” which is a measure used by ecommerce  companies to indicate revenue.
Since launching in 2015, the company is now looking to get to 30 employees and is taking on another suite at its headquarters in the Columbia Gateway area.
While the company’s team tracks trends across many ecommerce sites where its customers sell, the world in which it operates is focused on Amazon to begin this particular week. That’s because Amazon Prime Day started at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon albeit with a few glitches, and runs 36 hours through Tuesday.
Being an ecommerce company, CEO Daniel Sugarman said Zentail tracks sales closely, and is watching to see if this year’s totals top last year’s 60 percent increase over 2016. Plus there’s interest to see how the company’s clients fare.
“It’s a huge day for our merchants,” Sugarman said.
For this year’s Amazon Prime Day, the company’s team created a tool to follow along with its own predictions. Using historical data that is publicly available and its own internal data from customers, the company’s team built a model showing where it expects sales to take shape. Sugarman notes that it doesn’t have all of Amazon’s data, but the team is confident the prediction can come within 10 percent of GMV, or gross merchant volume.
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Zentail was also recently named a member of the Amazon Marketplace Developers Council, which is helping to inform the company’s efforts to build new software tools for the third party sellers on its platform.

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