Investor Highlights: Blocklight – The Age of Analytics
In this section, we will highlight innovative ideas, actions and products coming from our clients. This edition includes Blocklight, a data analytics firm that sifts through raw data to provide strategic business insights. We sat down with co-founder Michael Casale to learn more about what drove him to disrupt the e-commerce industry, how Blocklight is tackling some of the biggest challenges in this space, and what guides him in his quest for success.
1. Tell me about your career path. What got you interested in the e-commerce industry?
I have a background in systems design and a very creative wife. We were inspired when our daughter was born to create kids clothing. We were getting a lot of requests for the clothes from friends and family, and made a handful of items that sold out very quickly. We ended up building an e-commerce website to sell children’s clothing and set a modest goal of $5,000 in monthly revenue, which we met. We knew we could make more but I had to quit my job to meet these larger goals.
Going through this exercise, we learned that it was hard to scale a small e-commerce business in a way that always met demand. This was the spark for Blocklight. There weren’t any affordable tools on the market for small businesses that could provide insights like sales patterns, other analytics and visualizations. These insights could have helped with our growing pains.
I put pen to paper and built out the idea for Blocklight. I called Justin Arnold, a friend I have known for over a decade and went to school with, to see what he thought of the idea. He vetted it through his network and we made the business official in February of 2018.
We have a talented core team along with many skilled designers, developers, advisors and partners working to bring Blocklight’s unique offering to fruition. The Blocklight Analytics Platform (BAP) is in beta now and we plan to be in production by Q2 2019.
We target small to medium sized e-commerce businesses and provide actionable insight by analyzing raw data. Our services help them automate product listings, manage social media postings to multiple platforms, as well as act on customer and product insights.
2. What is it about integrated data sources that excites you or that you believe is important?
We are convinced that data is the key to successful growth and there is no end in sight in terms of what we’ll be able to do with the data. It’s impressive what can be gathered and done from simply analyzing data; automating business processes, generating insights, even predicting the supply versus demand and consumer behaviors.
Blocklight will also be using machine learning. It will work similar to the way Netflix recommends movies they think you might like based on what you, or groups of your peers like. We will treat business metrics the same way; recommending the ones we think will help small businesses based on what is working for them, and what peer businesses are finding successful.
3. What are some of the challenges in the integrated data/e-commerce space and how does Blocklight provide solutions?
There are challenges in understanding how to leverage large amounts of data from disparate sources at a granular level of detail. For example, when working with kids clothing, we were constantly looking at what products were selling in terms of color, size and material. We needed to be able to analyze data and discover those sales patterns. We wanted to be able to predict material needs for several months at a time and integrated data would have helped us with this challenge. What is the correlation between people who buy red shirts and comments on social media posts? How does marketing relate to the product then translate to sales? Relating this data, and gathering intelligence from it helps small businesses become efficient and helps them grow.
This is our plan for Blocklight. We are going to provide an unparalleled quality of insight to e-commerce businesses, because currently we don’t see an affordable, comprehensive business management tool for them. The more businesses and integrations we connect, the more data we can crunch, the better the information for us and our customers.
4.What is it like working at Blocklight?
It is endless fun working with the people of Blocklight. We have assembled a team of committed, dedicated and patient people who make it enjoyable. We are all team players that enjoy working together and have put in a lot of sweat equity. We like to think we have created, and try to protect, a culture of leaders who are attentive and all work diligently with the same vision in mind.
5. Who are some of your role models or the people that have helped you along your career path?
We have a few but some that come to mind right away are author Cormac McCarthy for his dedication and sacrifice when it came to running a business. We also admire Elon Musk because he will not back down from a problem, even if he doesn’t understand it. Napoleon is another role model because he was so laser focused on his goal. We like people who are determined.
6. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Exhibit empathy in life and learn to think critically. Also, trust yourself at the end of the day and your self-reliance.
We would like to thank Michael Casale and Blocklight.io for taking the time to speak with us about their company and future vision.
If you would like more information about Blocklight, their team and their passion to disrupt the e-commerce industry, please visit https://www.blocklight.io/.