The pandemic certainly changed how consumers think about online ordering. But it also drastically changed the way businesses think about their online selling habits.
First during lockdowns and then during physical labor shortages, small businesses have had to find more innovative and streamlined ways to get their products online and in front of the right customers.
Ultimately, the pandemic “accelerated demand and increased proliferation of both customers and competition. This tested the adaptability of consumer product companies as they had to reshape their entire organization,” said Akhil Suresh Nair, CEO of Louisville-based Xena Intelligence.
Launched during the pandemic, Xena is on a mission to bring more data-driven decisions to small businesses’ ecommerce efforts. The optimization efforts help businesses better understand pay-per-click ad campaigns and how their marketing is driving businesses and sales.
This is particularly important as marketing on popular sites like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, and Instagram has become more important…and more expensive…for brands and individual sellers.
From Louisville to the Big Apple
We asked Nair what it is like building an early-stage startup in Louisville. He called the city’s entrepreneurial scene “tight-knit yet highly inclusive” and a key part of his success story so far.
“As a first-generation immigrant with no prior connections in the US, particularly in Louisville, KY, I was initially uncertain about starting a business. However, to my surprise, I was warmly welcomed by the business community in Louisville and given access to influential decision-makers and investors who never made me feel like an outsider,” he added.
Since launching in 2020, the startup has secured funding from several local investors. But Nair’s most recent stepping stone in the entrepreneurial world has taken him to New York, where he’s part of the latest cohort for Techstars NYC Accelerator.
This year’s cohort is particularly international, but Xena is the sole representative from the Southeast region.
“The Techstars program has been a truly transformative experience for my entrepreneurial journey. The level of support from the Techstars community is unparalleled and not easily accessible to most startup founders,” Nair told Hypepotamus.
He added that the program has taught him a “great deal on the inner workings of a VC firm and how that shapes our pitch to them.”
As far as next steps for Nair, he’s currently preparing for Techstars Demo Day on Feb 10th where he will pitch live to investors and stakeholders in New York.