What's in episode 22?
Our latest podcast episode is with Maris Veide who chats to us from his office in Riga, Latvia. Maris is the founder of Excelify an app that's available on the Shopify app store. Where time is money, Maris has managed to save hours of manual work with enabling you to bulk import and export data using Excelify.
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Episode 22 Maris Veide from Excelify
Maris: [00:00:00] Eventually, one of those ideas came to be the Excelify actually in Shopify area because I experimented with a lot of different areas.
Intro: [00:00:09] Welcome to the Milk Bottle Shopify Ecommerce Podcast brought to you by Milk Bottle Labs, Ireland's top rated Shopify experts, Milk Bottle Labs, build, upgrade, migrate and market Shopify and Shopify Plus stores all over the world. Milk Bottle will migrate you onto Shopify with zero interruption guaranteed, or optimize your Shopify store and maximize store sales. This podcast is kindly supported by our favourite Shopify app and the only app we install in every store. Rewind.io is the leading backup solution for your Shopify store. We'll talk more about Rewind later now over to your host, founder of Milk Bottle Labs Keith Matthews.
Keith: [00:00:57] So Maris from Excelify, how are you? Thanks for joining us today.
Maris: [00:00:58] Hi. Thank you [00:01:00] also for having me today.
Keith: [00:01:01] That's no problem. I have been following your app for quite a while and it's an absolute pleasure to be on the line. I noticed that you're based in Latvia. Are you talking to me today from Latvia?
Maris: [00:01:10] Yes, from Riga.
Keith: [00:01:12] Very good. And you're originally from Riga?
Maris: [00:01:14] Yeah. I was born in.... It's a small city in Latvia, but then I went to Riga for university and stayed here. I think it was a long time ago.
Keith: [00:01:25] A long time ago. We won't talk about age and the podcast. Maris, it's a pleasure to have you, and one of the reasons is because the app that you have developed Excelify solves some very interesting challenges with Shopify. Shopify allows you to import and export products on various pieces of data, order history, customer details, import them in using a CSV and export them out of the store. And what many busy store owners do is they export those reports out and they edit them and then they soak them back into, you know, maybe a different CRM package or a reporting tool.
It's an [00:02:00] onerous task for a busy store owner. So you're solving a lot of those problems with Excelify. So just very briefly, just give us an indication as to what Excelify does.
Maris: [00:02:10] First of all, uh, thanks for pointing to this specific thing that it solves a problem. I actually, this is the ultimate reason why I started to, why I created Excelify. I wanted to solve a real actual problem for people. I was looking in many, many places until I've found, the perfect problem that I would love to solve. And that's this one.
Keith: [00:02:37] So Maris is for you to find that problem with, did you have a Shopify store running yourself?
Maris: [00:02:41] And actually the story goes back many years. If I may, like go back on the timeline, I was working previously, I was like the whole, my life I was working in like banks and financial institutions. I can, as a CIO, CT, IT manager, [00:03:00] right? And in parallel I was like looking for ways to, to add a real value to people's lives in this world. Right?
[00:03:08] Suddenly I discovered that actually what, from what what I'm doing is I don't feel like in those previous jobs, and even though those are like C level executive positions, I didn't feel like, I really add actual value to people. One day in 2015 like that 31st of December, I decided to leave at all with my wife. Actually, we both left ours job. I started looking for perfect problem to solve, like to give the real value. Basically, I spent two years experimenting with a different business ideas and eventually, one of those ideas came to be the Excelify in Shopify, I experimented with a lot of different areas and [00:04:00] things.
Keith: [00:04:01] You were tired of the corporate world and you wanted to add a bit of value maybe to smaller merchants or smaller eCommerce stores. You probably, it was a lifestyle choice as well was it? You were tired of the regular nine to five and pressure. Were you?
Maris: [00:04:13] I wouldn't say so. Lifestyle choice.
Because I love working like all my life. I was working like from moment, I'm awake till a moment. I go to sleep. I usually love to do the work and I love to do the work I love to do. That's how I continued, actually. I even maybe more like started to sleep even less when, uh, when working on those my own projects, the main pattern didn't change.
[00:04:44] I continued and I still continue working like every day, the same way. It became more meaningful because through Excelify I feel that I'm really, I'm adding like a [00:05:00] huge value to people's lives and that's, that's the fulfillment I was looking for.
Keith: [00:05:04] Yeah. I can see that, I mean Shopify, the platform itself solves very many problems on what you're doing within that ecosystem is solving another problem that Shopify hasn't solved just yet, so I can see exactly where you're coming from there.
In that two year period when you had decided to that you wanted to do your own thing and add a bit of value, and maybe solve a problem for somebody. Did you know of Shopify before you left your job? Were you aware of the platform?
Maris: [00:05:31] I was aware that it exists, but I didn't have any specific experience with it.
So yeah, among other experiments, I was like helping a friend of mine to set up the, their Shopify store and we had to import the data. And so I struggled myself and I saw how the others was struggling with it and I, I thought, ah I can definitely make this much, much better. Yeah. So I, I made an experiment [00:06:00] this and people starting to write me emails, like, I need this yesterday, and give it to me as much as, as soon as possible.
And so on. So. I thought, okay, let's, let's move on. Let's try to make some minimal viable products as everybody's doing right now these days. Yeah. Step-by-step it started to grow it
Keith: [00:06:23] And if I was to summarize the product, would it be right to say that Excelify allows you to import and export the maximum amount of data into a Shopify or out of a Shopify store using into a CSV, using your app?
Is that the best way to describe it?
Maris: [00:06:37] Yeah, that's, that's a vaild way to did describe. It in my head that the formulation would be that Excelify is the, the app with which you manage your whole Shopify data. Managing your data includes like to get it out, to be able to, touch the data to write too, to see specifically in spreadsheets, right?
[00:07:00] Whatever spreadsheets. These are CSV files or Excel files or Google sheets. However you want to work with this data, you can do it. You can get it out, you can put it back in, you can update, you can add or delete the data, the way to manage your data.
Keith: [00:07:17] So if I look at all of the fields of possible data that you can edit in the exports product spreadsheet alone, you've got pricing, you've got image alt text, you've got SEO.
[00:07:26] What is the number one thing that people would use your app for? Or is there such a thing.
Maris: [00:07:32] There is popular thing is that people import products, of course the products or is the core of the Shopify? Right. And so usually when they are setting up the new store, that's the first thing people are doing.
They are uploading products. Either they are migrating from some other platform, which they had, and now they are moving to Shopify. So they need to take, they're old [00:08:00] existing products with them. And that's a starting point. But then it moves on, like to set up important the customers, or they previously made orders or discount codes, things like that.
[00:08:12] Even like blog posts and pages. Yeah. But the most popular is, uh, it's product because that's the core of Shopify.
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[00:09:25] So I notice as well that you're in your app description on the Shopify app store, that you've mentioned that it's very handy if you are migrating your store from another platform.
[00:09:33] Now we migrate on a regular basis, and that's a complex task. Primarily the users, the individuals or the store owners as Shopify merchants that are using your app, would many of them be at advanced in Shopify or Excel or is it at developers and agencies that are using your app to carry out migrations?
Maris: [00:09:52] Basically to use Excelify the only real requirement would be that you are, [00:10:00] you know, how to use spreadsheets like a, whether this is Excel or Google sheets. And the other thing is that you need to be technically with technical mindset so that you understand what you are doing, right? It's, it's definitely Excelify not for people who are like looking for drag and drop anything, and it does everything for you. It's basically you don't need to like understanding details what do you want to accomplish?
Keith: [00:10:28] It requires skill and some knowledge. I suppose. It's probably requires some patience as well, doesn't it? It's a very important task that you're using the app for.
Maris: [00:10:35] Yes. Because it's like a razor blade. Yes. You have a razor blade in your hands and now what are you going to do with it? And you have to be, Oh, so careful. Because you can cut yourself right. If you are a, for example, importing or deleting some data from your Shopify store, and if you haven't understood, what are you doing with this kind of import for example. If [00:11:00] there is a some frustration sometimes with Excelify for our customers, it's for those who, for example, haven't read through the how it works. A page on our website, right? Just try something and fails for some reason and they don't understand what happened. Definitely there is a, a learning curve to understand how to use Excelify in the best place to start it is with how it works, where we tried to explain like the basic principles.
[00:11:31] And as soon as you catch that then it becomes like your intuition and then you can be strong.
Keith: [00:11:38] Yeah. So that would lead me to believe then that you have a lot of support tickets are a lot of, a lot of emails, a lot of questions. I mean, how does he handle us? Do you handle all of those yourself?
Maris: [00:11:47] Not anymore. Now we have a Renars in our support team, who is amazing. Much, much, much better than than I was when handling that customer chats and support [00:12:00] tickets, he's working pattern is very similar to mine. So we are both, working whenever we are awake.
Keith: [00:12:06] We've had a number of successful app developers on the podcast, and one of the big challenges that many of them have had is the ability to scale and the ability to, you know, handoff customer support, you know, do some marketing on develop their business.
[00:12:21] So have you much of a team built around Excelify?
Maris: [00:12:24] At the moment we are in total six people working on Excelify.
Keith: [00:12:29] Are you all based together?
Maris: [00:12:31] Oh, we are all together. Really from all my experience I don't dig the remote teams. I think it's great value when you sit together you synchronise your brain every day and that gives this special power of the team at work.
[00:12:49] So, yeah, in, in the team, it's me and my wife. She's also helped out since the beginning with everything starting from support also with the [00:13:00] websites and with all the administrative work and with testing. Then we have Renars who is now in support, and we have two more developers Karlis. Also my son, Valter, he's helping with designs and video editing graphics in general.
Keith: [00:13:16] Very good. So you're, you're well tooled up to scale and expand. The team of six is a sizeable team for one app. Do you have any other app ideas for the future?
Maris: [00:13:25] Yeah, I have a lot of ideas, not only for apps, but constant flow of ideas basically, but I'm focusing on just this one and whenever I, any idea, you just put it into the list, I guess.
[00:13:38] Yeah. For future generations, I tried to focused on on one thing and go deep precise on don't jump through the different like topics or apps. I think. The thing that we are lack is the ability to properly focus on something on one thing at the same time, I think it's [00:14:00] really important to be able to give this kind of quality and the results as.
Keith: [00:14:07] I had Jay Myers from Bold on recently and he made that point at one point in their business they had what they were planning. I think they had over 22 I think it was 22 apps in the Shopify app store. They actually talk about the decision to revert backwards and remove a number of the apps and focus on the ones that they were passionate about and the ones that were successful and the ones that the customers preferred.
[00:14:30] So that's a good point that you made as if you're developing something, it's very easy to become diverted into another project. And another idea. And then your energy gets diverted along with it, and then your initial idea then isn't as successful as you would have liked.
Maris: [00:14:43] Yeah. Becomes shallow basically, because you can't, there's always a T, T shape like thing. Right. You can't go deep into many areas. Unless you already want most of these, the money to do that.
Keith: [00:14:58] I think Ilan pays a lot of people a lot of [00:15:00] money and then takes the credit on Twitter.
Maris: [00:15:03] I definitely, I would doubt he has time to properly dig into each and every aspect. And like for me, it's very interesting to go into deep details and technical questions.
[00:15:17] And I'm developing this app, daily, myself and I really, I, I love programming. So that's what I've been doing before, my CIO and CTO positions. And I was actually looking for ways to get back to it because it's the process itself it's like a meditation for me.
Keith: [00:15:38] I want to go back into the app just a little bit more.
What is the single biggest advantage of using Excelify if I'm a Shopify merchant?
Maris: [00:15:45] Typically our customers say to us like Excelify, save them hours or days of time, which they couldn't do any, anyhow else and then they stumbled to Excelify. It gave this [00:16:00] time boost. Yeah, I think that's it biggest benefit.
Keith: [00:16:05] Of course, time is money. I think it's great that Shopify is platform is saving people time and money, and then within the ecosystem it's guys like you have developed applications that you can bring it one step further. So well done on that.
Maris: [00:16:18] Yeah, and Shopify is ecosystem itself. It's amazing.
[00:16:21] They are so friendly. Everybody's so friendly. And I think it's something to do with the Canadian nature of the Shopify company. I was shocked how friendly everybody is, the customers and partners and the Shopify themselves, it's like no sharks.
Keith: [00:16:38] Sometimes it amazes me how agencies like ourselves can just ring up a competitor or email them and ask a question, or everybody is very open and trusted in terms of sharing information, because at the end of the day the more information that everybody has, you know, if the tide rises, it will lift every boat and everybody benefit. It's the opposite of the ecosystems where I've operated in the [00:17:00] past where if anybody knows something, they make sure that they can charge the customer for it rather than place it on Twitter or place it on a blog or you know, or share that information.
[00:17:09] So, and again, I think the source of this is you are 100% right. I think the source of it is coming from a very polite and very friendly Canadian culture. Maris, thank you very, very much for taking the time to talk to us today. It's been an absolute pleasure.
Maris: [00:17:22] Thanks.
Outro: [00:17:25] Thanks for listening to the Milk Bottles Shopify Ecommerce Podcast. All of our episodes are available on Spotify and iTunes. We really appreciate the support of our sponsor. Rewind.io, the leading backup solution for your Shopify store. Get your first month of rewind for free. Just to respond to any of the welcome messages or emails after you begin your seven day free trial and mention our podcast until the next time. Take care.