Beyond buying Shopify businesses, co-founder Matt Lanter discusses how OpenStore seeks to reshape eCommerce, why they are bucking the remote-work trend, and more.
By Riley Kaminer
OpenStore is on a roll. And last week, Refresh Miami was on site to experience firsthand exactly what makes this rapidly-scaling startup tick.
The Wynwood-based company, founded in 2021, is on a mission to reshape the eCommerce experience for consumers and vendors.
How will OpenStore accomplish this lofty goal? First up: enabling successful Shopify entrepreneurs to sell their businesses within 24 hours. Eventually, the startup hopes to reduce this to as little as an hour.
“These entrepreneurs – and consumers in general – value speed and certainty,” co-founder and Head of Product Matt Lanter told Refresh Miami. “By decreasing the amount of time it takes [to acquire a store], we can provide that certainty even faster – while continuing to improve accuracy as well.” He also noted that this speed is even more possible these days, considering our uncertain macroeconomic environment.
OpenStore is able to move so quickly, explained Lanter, thanks to a “combination of humans and machines.” They assess a variety of data points such as sales history, orders, average margin, and cost structure. The startup is industry agnostic, having undertaken investments as diverse as a frozen meat company to a smattering of apparel companies.
This mission is old hat for Lanter. In his previous role at Opendoor, he worked to enable home buyers to secure instant cash offers. Now he is bringing this same model to US-based direct-to-consumer brands with between $1 million and $10 million in gross merchandise volume.
Shopify entrepreneurs are on board. So far, OpenStore reports that they have acquired dozens of businesses. That has enabled the company to attract over $150 million in equity funding from investors including Atomic, Founders Fund, General Catalyst and Khosla Ventures. In September, OpenStore raised $32 million at a valuation of $970 million: a 25% increase from their previous fundraise of $75 million last year.
Alongside Lanter in co-founding OpenStore are OpenStore CEO and Founders Fund general partner Keith Rabois, Atomic founder Jack Abraham, Michael Rubenstein, and Jeremy Wood. Previously, Lanter worked with Rabois at Opendoor and Founders Fund.
Building the future of eCommerce
Lanter assured us that acquiring successful Shopify stores is just the beginning of OpenStore’s journey.
“Ultimately, we want to bring serendipitous discovery to online shopping,” he said. “Online shopping has been very intent based: you need toothpaste, so you search online and you buy toothpaste.”
“But in the offline world, you can more easily discover cool new products, like when you’re walking downtown and discover something you never knew you needed for yourself. This serendipitous discovery doesn’t really exist online. Certainly not at scale.”
Lanter stopped short of explaining exactly what this will look like (a foray into the metaverse, perhaps?), apart from saying that it will – at least initially – take the form of an iOS app or website.
Miami is at the forefront of OpenStore’s growth and in-person approach
Like CEO Rabois, OpenStore takes an outwardly bullish view on the growth of the #MiamiTech movement.
“I instantly fell in love with this city when I visited during COVID,” said Lanter, who ended up relocating here from San Francisco in March 2021. “Miami just felt alive in a way that San Francisco was not at the time, and is still struggling to come back to life.”
Lanter reports that OpenStore has sourced one third of its 100 employees from the Miami market, with the rest relocating from further afield.
As for the decision to be completely in-person, Lanter explained that the value comes down to “compressing time and moving as fast as possible, which accelerates your learnings and compounds your feedback loop.”
For instance, Lanter described a recent experience in which he overheard a conversation between a designer and an engineer as he walked by their desks. He was able to add his input, and review a prototype casually the following day.
“I don’t think that ever would have happened in a remote world,” Lanter said of the encounter. “But if it did happen, it probably would have involved scheduling a meeting and would have taken several days. You wouldn’t have been able to compress time, which we really value.”
In our visit to OpenStore’s office, the company’s mission to create a home-away-from-home environment for its team was on full display. A sea of open floor desks is buttressed by formal and informal meeting spaces. Their kitchen is stocked with all the trimmings required to power their peckish personnel. They even have a series of paintings depicting colorful Lacroix cans (does it get much more Miami than that?).
“The most important thing about developing the Miami tech ecosystem is developing the best companies,” Lanter asserted. “Ultimately, the best companies are created by the best people.” That’s why continuing to recruit the best and brightest is critical for the growth of Miami tech, in his estimation.
Offering advice to fledgling founders
What words of wisdom does Lanter have to share with Miami’s next generation of tech innovators?
First, he borrowed a quotation from investor Vinod Khosla: “The team you build is the company you build.” Lanter believes that it is critical for startups to bring together the right people for the problem they are tackling. “You want to make sure that you have the right team early on to build the best company possible,” said Lanter.
Second: Move quickly. “Time is not your friend. You can never buy more time. So you want to do everything possible to compress time.”
OpenStore is hiring across all verticals. Check out the jobs currently available on their website.
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