Jesse Pujji believes the future of mobile e-commerce will look more like TikTok, Instagram and Snap, and started Kahani, a SaaS company for merchants, to lead the charge.
Prior to Kahani, the serial entrepreneur was a founder in several companies, including Gateway X, Ampush and GrowthAssistant. After moving into the executive chairman role at Ampush in 2015, Pujji went looking for what’s next and started looking at starting a store.
While experimenting with Shopify, he realized that people were spending money, time and energy on TikTok and Instagram to create the right kind of content videos, but when the customer clicked on them, they would “go into this time machine that takes you 10 to 15 years in the past when you land on the website.”
Most websites look the same, Pujji explained. Some are doing it right, including Tinder, which “revolutionized dating,” he said, just by providing the ability to swipe left or right. He started thinking about applying similar features, especially those found on TikTok, Instagram and Snap, to mobile versions of websites to provide that same kind of experience while shopping.
“The big vision is, in three to five years, we think you’ll land right on a big picture or video and you’re going to swipe or tap, and it’ll be immersive and interactive,” he added.
Kahani’s first product is a “Stories-like” feature, for example, which shows clothes being worn and the model turning around and showing how it fits “live” versus static images of the front and back views.
Merchants can begin using the product with a two-line code snippet and Kahani’s self-serve content management system that enables merchants to change around photos and videos or set up the system to automatically pull top sellers into a “story” on the website.
The company was started in October 2021, and Pujji launched an open beta in September. Though it is still in the early stages, the company already onboarded 25 customers, including Tovala, SimpleModern, Hayden Girls, Hally Hair and Audio Range. Many of the brands are already seeing revenue per session lifts of up to 30%, he said.
In addition, Kahani is already seeing $100,000 in annual recurring revenue since the beta launch and has $200,000 in ARR sitting in its waitlist pipeline.
It also picked up $3.5 million in seed funding co-led by Nextview Ventures and Sugar Capital, with a group of angel investors participating. This is Pujji’s first foray into VC after bootstrapping his other companies, which he said was “because we saw the potential for how big Kahani could be and getting.”
The funding will be invested in three areas: product engineering to automate more functions and accelerate the company toward a more general availability early in 2023, then marketing and R&D to test new features; for example, discovery pages and the ability to purchase from a photo or video through Kahani without having to redirect a customer to the merchant’s website.
Next up, the company’s goal is to get on hundreds of websites to learn and get data and to build more automation into the product and build out a full checkout experience.
“The content has to be dynamic,” Pujji said. “My happiest moment will be when someone lands on Kahani from Facebook or Amazon, taps through it and purchases while never even seeing the website. They do it all through our product.”