In an interview with Scott Brady, CEO of Slice, an online system that processes shopping-related emails to help you easily keep track of your stuff from your desktop or using the app, we discuss innovation and the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being involved in a startup.
What is your definition of innovation? Why is it important to you?
Scott: This is my fourth startup and I always get excited about disrupting large, existing industries by bringing in new ways of doing things. I love it when you get a group of passionate people, executing well, to solve a consumer need. You need more than just a great idea – it’s also all about creating the right environment for people to succeed.
Explain the concept behind Slice. What inspired you to create the company?
Scott: Slice is about making online shopping simpler. It’s an all-in-one tool that helps you keep track of everything you buy online, based on the receipts in your email inbox. We were inspired to create Slice because we realized that while e-commerce has made life easier in many ways, it also comes with its share of inefficiencies. We all know how frustrating it is to sift through your inbox for an old receipt, search in vain for a company’s customer service info or misplace a tracking number. Email is just not the place to store all that information. And we knew that with services like Google Wallet and Square, the problem was going to get worse.We launched Slice to create a structured way to make sense of that information and put easy-to-use organization tools at your fingertips. Online shopping should be fun, and Slice makes it even more enjoyable.
With so many apps to choose from, how do you manage to make Slice stand out?
Scott: Slice stands out because of its simplicity. Once you add your email account, Slice automatically pulls information from the e-receipts in your inbox and organizes it all in one place. There’s no need to sign into additional accounts or plug in your credit card information. Slice updates automatically, so you can see your latest activity—pending orders, in-transit shipments, recent deliveries and more—whenever you open the app. We launched Slice to make life easier, and that vision continues to drive development.
What are some challenges and successes that you have faced while starting up Slice?
Before launching, we had two main questions: 1) could it be done? and 2) if we did it, would consumers adopt it?To answer the first question, we applied the latest-generation NLP and data science methodologies. It wasn’t an easy problem to solve, but after trying several different approaches and a lot of hard work, we eventually hit on something.
On the consumer side, our challenge was to develop a unique tool that exceeded users’ expectations. We rely on focus groups to test and retest our concepts and features, and we definitely take user feedback into careful consideration. With this approach, we’ve been able to develop a continuously evolving service that is genuinely useful for consumers in multiple ways.
I’m proud of the massive growth we’ve seen since we launched Slice, having processed more than 40 million purchases and counting. I believe that much of this success comes from putting our users first.
What do you think the government should do to encourage innovators and startups?
Scott: I support the Startup Visa.