Blugento Romania, the Cluj-based e-commerce solution startup, offers a SaaS product developed on Magento, an open-source e-commerce platform. The company, launched in 2015, has had an accelerated growth in the past two years, doubling its revenue and reaching €1M in 2020.
Blugento offers e-commerce clients technical infrastructure, which includes hosting, security updates, and continuous development of the platform. They aim to help companies scale their online store as sales grow. This can leave room for managers to focus on other tasks, like marketing.
“After 10 years of experience in software development on the international market with Magento, we understood that this open-source project, which is a bidding product because of the community behind it and the functions available in the market, is appropriate to be structured as a SaaS, to offer an advanced eCommerce technology at an affordable and predictable price,” Sandu Babasan, co-founder and CEO of Blugento, says.
The Cluj startup was founded by three entrepreneurs, Vlad Stanescu, who is also the CTO, Sergiu Babasan in the CSO chair, and Sandu Babasan, who is the CEO. The e-commerce startup has 400 clients and is working with their second round of investment – €1M received in 2019 from the Polish investment fund, R22, which is listed on the Warsaw stock exchange.
The Recursive met with Sandu Babasan to learn more about the challenges the Blugento solution can solve, and to further explore the trend of the booming e-commerce in Romania.
The Recursive: What challenges does Blugento aim to solve for e-commerce clients?
Sandu Babasan: One of the first things that we want to do is to simplify all the complex processes of an online store through advanced technology. We also want to offer access to the Magento ecosystem for a higher speed in the entire process of internationalization. And third, but not least, we want to continuously develop our support platform and to be there for our customers on their online sales journey.
What is your target for the next few years?
Our first target is to increase international activities in Poland, where we already have headquarters, and in other markets as well. We want to double our clients and to continue developing the platform towards innovative solutions. Last year we switched to Magento 2 and developed a progressive web app, Zento, a high technology platform.
How has the pandemic influenced the development of Blugento?
It was a period of accelerated scaling. We had to adapt, both as a team and as a business, for a greater onboarding capacity of our customers. It was a high-pressure period that succeeded for us, and we are now adapted to a greater capacity of project delivery.
In terms of work from home, given that we have been using specific project management software for more than 15 years, it has been easy to adapt. We see a trend in which colleagues want to return to the office.
How do you see e-commerce evolving in Romania?
The Romanian eCommerce market is in an accelerated evolution. In the next period, this growth will be maintained even if we will get over this pandemic.
For example, the average sum spent in online shopping/year in 2020 grew by 41% in comparison to 2019. Among the categories that had a +100% evolution from 2019 are: catering, books and magazines, pet products, and fast-moving consumer goods.
All that this period did was to enable entrepreneurs towards the online part of their business. The eCommerce business went from a “nice to have” to “a must-have”, and all companies will accelerate their efforts towards eCommerce.
What are its growth drivers?
- The changing of the 40-60 years old shoppers’ behavior in the pandemic, because they saw that it was easy to buy, and, most importantly, safe.
- The fresh food companies’ entry into the eCommerce industry, like Metro or Auchan.
- The ability of the courier companies to deliver products on the same day or in 2-3 hours, that enable the fresh food companies to sell their products.
- Development of B2B directions – digitized departments reaching out to specific eCommerce B2B platforms; we will see a huge change in the way that B2B relationships are functioning and how B2B businesses are made.
- The appearance on the market of new technologies, like live eCommerce or mobile commerce (apps) which are suitable for companies with a large product portfolio, from different areas.
What would you say are Cluj’s ecosystem’s biggest strengths?
Firstly, the university environment, like the business and technical universities. Secondly, the development ecosystem specific to digital businesses.
Cluj is a regional center that attracts new skilled human resources from across the region. Another big strength that the city has is the fantastic proactivity of local institutions, in terms of collaboration with the business environment.