You never quite know what’ll happen when you reverse-engineer someone else’s product.
I was working on a new product called 1-Click Pony when I stumbled on a shopping cart abandonment tool called CartHook. In a nutshell, 1-Click Pony lets e-commerce merchants embed a single-click checkout button directly into their marketing emails, while CartHook helps convert customers who express intent to buy, but don’t make it through the checkout process for whatever reason. Our products shared a few commonalities (both were designed to boost conversion; both did it through innovative email marketing) so it seemed as good an idea as any to try mining CartHook for a bit of inspiration.
I signed up and began hacking, but it turns out my quest for new insight isn’t the interesting part of this story. Jordan Gal, the founder of CartHook, noticed I had registered, and as I was looking into the nuts and bolts behind his product, Jordan was looking into me.
A cursory Google search turned up, among other things, a slide deck from a company I’d co-founded earlier called Alchemy, which we eventually sold. Jordan had recently declined an acquisition offer and was looking for advice on where to take CartHook next. So, he got in touch.
It didn’t take long to realize we had very similar philosophies on how to build and scale an e-commerce product. My approach to technology is rooted in automation and self-sustaining systems, and Jordan’s approach to marketing and business development is rooted in much the same. We didn’t just see eye-to-eye on things—we seemed to be natural counterparts.
After chatting a few times via phone, Jordan wanted to meet in person, so he flew out to L.A. where I was staying at the time. At this point, we had broached the topic of partnering on CartHook, but I was already weighing another offer in New York, which is where I live. Still, the better we got to know each other, the clearer it became that I needed to give his offer some serious thought.
As I wrote previously, I haven’t always had the greatest luck at choosing partners and evaluating business people, but this time around, I had a wealth of past experiences to lean on. Both Jordan and I agreed that we couldn’t jump into anything without first seeing how we functioned as a team, so we decided to spend three weeks working together to test the waters. During the course of the three weeks, we talked about how we viewed the CartHook opportunity, and what strengths and weaknesses each of us brought to the table. In the end, it felt like a great fit.
CartHook isn’t the first cart abandonment tool, but it’s tailored to a very specific niche and positioned in a way that’s difficult to compete against. It essentially offers middle-tier e-commerce merchants the sort of tools previously available only to giants like Amazon. And it’s an ideal platform for 1-Click Pony, to boot.
To make a long story short, I’m officially announcing that I’ve joined CartHook as its new Chief Technology Officer & Head of Product. You might recall a few weeks back I posted a list of do’s and don’ts for picking partners and projects. It seems prudent now to add a new tip: find good products and tinker with them, because people will wonder who the hell you are and maybe ask you to be CTO.