Startups

Monetate CEO David Brussin on Philly’s growing e-commerce

In 2010, Monetate CEO and co-founder David Brussin was offering an iPad to anyone who referred an eventual engineering hire. In 2012, he's upped the ante to $2,000. Here is a Q&A with the company's chief executive.

The reception desk at the Monetate Conshohocken offices.

In 2010, Monetate CEO and co-founder David Brussin was offering an iPad to anyone who referred an eventual engineering hire. In 2012, he’s upped the ante to $2,000.

“We have as many open positions now as we’ve ever had,” he says. “It’s really across all areas not just engineering.”

With 90 employees and a new office in downtown Conshohocken the e-commerce optimization company has been rapidly expanding, claiming nearly 300 percent revenue growth in 2011 with large clients like Best Buy and Brooks Brothers. Monetate also upped its products offerings from one to the five-product “agility suite” in January.

The company is also emblematic of a growth Philadelphia e-commerce ecosystem with retailers like QVC and Urban Outfitters and service providers like SEER Interactive, Sidecar and GSI Commerce.

We spoke to Brussin about Monetate’s growth and Philadelphia’s suddenly robust e-commerce ecosystem.

As always, edited for length and clarity.

We get the feeling that Philadelphia has a growing e-commerce community. Are we crazy?

Philly Tech Week: e-commerce exposed.

A 2-part session looking at the business and technical side of ecommerce. Presented by O3 World.

When: 4/26. 10:30 a.m.
Where: 1028 N 3rd Street

Register

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Your perception is dead on. Luckily, a lot of what’s going on I get to be involved in because a lot of the growth is with our customers, many of whom who are in Philadelphia like Urban Outfitters, QVC, Pet Food Direct, GSI commerce, Rue La La and Kynetic. I can’t think of a place with more e-commerce other than San Fransisco.

The other thing we noticed is the high number of companies in Philadelphia supporting e-commerce.

I think so, what’s nice here is that there’s a nice mix of e-commerce companies and service providers. We work with brands like Revzilla and get such great feedback on our product. That feedback is much easier to get when you can get together in a room.

How often do you guys get together?

Pretty often, actually. I see them on a regular basis. This week though is a bit of an outlier, I will be face-to-face with Urban Outfitters, GSI Commerce and QVC.

So we’re not crazy to think Philly is growing?

Not only are you not crazy, I think there’s a specialty that’s emerged among Philadelphia startups. While it’s not the only thing they are doing, there’s a lot of online marketing and e-commerce Philly startups.

Maybe that’s because Philadelphia seems to be much more conducive to B2B companies than B2c.

You see specialties in lots of markets. New York is ad tech, for example. It’s a little early to say, but I think its fair to say we have the early signs of an e-commerce specialty. An advantage we have here in Philly is that we have a lot of amazing retailers here with decades long history and experience and that gives us an opportunity to create way better products because we can sit with people who live those problems every day.

Lets talk Monetate. Last time we visited there was a lot of empty desks. What’s the office look these days?

Well, there’s a lot less empty desks. We’re about 90 people. We almost tripled revenue last year, and we actually handled more pageviews than Twitter or ESPN last holiday season. We’ve really gotten to an amazing scale, we have a lot data to play with. On Black Friday last year, 20 percent of all e-commerce data went throughout the Monetate platform.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Definitely finding the right people. Recruiting is never done.

Do you have the ambition of selling Monetate?

You have to position yourself to make the right decisions for your business. If you’re focused on trying to flip a company, you’re going to make the wrong choices. We are building this to be a big company, as if we are going to become a public company. We’re optimized for building a large successful company that doesn’t distract ourselves with another kind of a target.

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