The “PayPal Mafia” phenomenon of ex-PayPal executives starting new tech ventures is often credited with the birth of companies like LinkedIn, Tesla and YouTube.
In this part of the world, PayPal alumni Kenneth Low and Dinuke Ranasinghe joined the fray in late 2012 by co-founding Arcadier, a technology platform to help e-commerce companies create online marketplaces.
“At PayPal, we realised that there was a big mystery on how companies can use technology to engage their customers better,” said Ranasinghe, who is now Arcadier’s chief executive officer. “And everyone was building the technology themselves at a very high development cost.”
To nip the problem in the bud, Arcadier set out with a vision to offer technology blocks that can be easily plugged into existing e-commerce systems. The software modules – from inventory and order management to demand generation – can also be integrated with various payment gateways, Ranasinghe said.
“The best way to describe ourselves is that we’re an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software company, like SAP and JD Edwards with different modules and features delivered as a cloud-based service,” he added.
Arcadier’s technology blocks are also customisable to the needs of its customers. “For example, an F&B partner in Singapore is using our building blocks to create an entire suit of F&B software features such as online pre-ordering,” Ranasinghe said.
The company has been successful so far, having secured US$1.75 million in new funding late last year.
And earlier in February this year, it clinched a deal to build an e-trading platform for Panama-based Canalzon, envisioned to be the largest online marketplace for Central America.
“They were quoted over a million dollars to build the platform with a delivery time of 12 months,” Ranasinghe said. “With our technology, they did it in four months at under US$75,000.”
But what’s interesting about Arcadia is its revenue model. Besides charging a small licensing fee, the company also takes an equity stake in its partners, plus a cut of their e-commerce transactions.
“Many of our partners are industry experts who don’t know a lot about tech but want to disrupt their industries,” said Kenneth Low, Arcadier’s co-founder and chief operating officer. “It’s a very low-cost, low-risk way to get this disruption capability without spending millions of dollars.”
Low revealed that Arcadier is currently working with a partner that is looking to sell properties to Chinese investors.
“There are a lot of people in China looking to buy foreign properties, so the partner wanted to develop a site that’s not like 99.co or Property Guru,” he said. “That’s a unique marketplace which we are developing using the same building blocks.”