12X Revenue Growth With A 98% Retention Rate: Update On Our E-Commerce SaaS

Published: April 16th, 2023
Akhil Suresh Nair
Xena Intelligence
from Boston, MA, USA
started August 2020
Discover what tools Akhil recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Akhil recommends to grow your business!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Greetings! I am Akhil Nair, the founder, and CEO of XENA Intelligence, an eCommerce growth platform that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize sellers’ growth on marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.

Our goal at XENA is to empower online sellers to automate their businesses and optimize their advertising campaigns with ease, using our cutting-edge technology.

At XENA, we firmly believe that the potential of AI is limitless, and we are dedicated to helping eCommerce sellers unlock this potential. Our platform's powerful AI engine absorbs millions of data points from Amazon and Walmart to create the best pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns for our clients, giving them an edge over their competitors.

We want to expand to new products, audiences, and regions and become the biggest e-commerce SaaS company in the world.

We are passionate about what we do and committed to helping eCommerce sellers grow their businesses by leveraging the full potential of AI.

We are thrilled to see our clients benefiting from our innovative solution, and we are proud to have helped them achieve total yearly sales of $15 million from January 2022 to date.

Our clients have experienced an impressive 30% increase in sales and a remarkable 45% decrease in ad spending, which is a testament to the effectiveness of our platform.

But let's not get bogged down by numbers. Let me tell you a little story about how I got here. I started as a freelance marketing consultant, helping small businesses in Boston with their eCommerce brands. But I quickly realized that there was a major pain point for small businesses: the inability to effectively scale on eCommerce platforms like Amazon and Walmart.

And so, I made it my mission to build XENA into the best eCommerce growth platform in the world, and to help small businesses thrive on these platforms.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

It's been a wild ride since our last article was published on Starterstory. Our business has grown by leaps and bounds, with 12X revenue growth, over 10,000 SKUs under management, and a whopping $14M in Ads under management.

We've also maintained an impressive 98% customer retention rate, generating over $50M in revenue for our clients. It's been an incredible journey so far, but we know that what worked in the past won't necessarily work in the future. That's why we've had to make some changes to reach the next level in our business.


Introduction to what XENA does:

We've learned a lot in the last year, including the importance of being more careful in choosing the right investor. They can decide the fate of your business, so it's crucial to find someone who aligns with your values and vision.

Some things that have worked for us in terms of marketing channels include LinkedIn, partnerships, and affiliate programs. On the other hand, social media paid campaigns have lost their early results, so we've shifted our focus to other avenues.

Since our last interview, our company has been making waves in the press. We were honored to win awards such as the Vogt Awards and were named a finalist in the Render Competition. We were also recognized as one of the Top 21 startups of 2021 by Prepare4VC.

Our success has even caught the attention of Techstars and Fox News. We have been fortunate to be a part of the Techstars New York City Accelerator program. This program has provided us with invaluable resources, mentorship, and connections in the industry. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow alongside some of the brightest minds in the startup world.

We're grateful for these opportunities and excited to continue growing and making an impact.

In my opinion, meditation and journaling are two habits that will help an entrepreneur keep his mind razor-sharp and organized.

Now, you might be wondering how we've managed to grow our business so quickly.

Well, it's all thanks to two important steps: hiring a great team and constantly testing new things.

And let me tell you, we've tried it all - cold outreach, explainer videos, podcasts, you name it.

But we've found that partnerships with other companies in the eCommerce space are the most efficient way to acquire customers. The outreach to potential partners comes as a result of referrals and network effect.

And once we've acquired those customers, we give them the personal attention they deserve, helping them every step of the way on their path to success.


What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

The one problem we’ve been trying to solve day in, and day out is finding the most efficient way to enable early-stage brands to compete effectively in a highly competitive eCommerce marketplace like Amazon & Walmart.

Imposter syndrome certainly does kick in when milestones are achieved and when real value is created. I believe the greatest obstacle to the growth of an entrepreneur is not the funding, not the product, not the team, but themselves. Managing one’s thoughts and mastering emotions to find the perfect balance is a process that takes years to achieve.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The biggest learning that dawned on me is that your early team is critical for your growth. Only the best of the best can enable a startup to grow. Therefore, it is crucial that you wisely choose the people who are going to build for you, you.

Another experiment that turned out to be game-changing was signing up for strategic partnerships with other great companies operating in the eCommerce space. Through the partnerships, we could pool our knowledge and resources, to help eCommerce sellers with a higher impact. Partnerships are making customer acquisition faster and easier.

“Over the long term, the e-commerce market has plenty of room to grow and could increase from $3.3 trillion today to $5.4 trillion in 2026.” - Morgan Stanley

The pandemic was a black swan event, and it altered the average consumer behavior. More people are coming into eCommerce, both to sell and buy. The projections indicate that the best time to ride the eCommerce wave is now.

Product development, team management, and time management are the three most important lessons I learned while building XENA. As a CEO, it is quite important to build a strong leadership team to handle all these verticals effectively as we scale.

In my opinion, meditation and journaling are two habits that will help an entrepreneur keep his mind razor-sharp and organized. I practice both and the result is visible in my everyday life. Meditation helps you relax. Once you’re relaxed, your thoughts and decisions will be more coherent. Similarly, journaling allows you to retrospect on the evolution of your thought process every once in a while and keeps your thoughts organized.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Looking ahead, our plans are simple: grow, grow, grow. We want to expand to new products, audiences, and regions and become the biggest e-commerce SaaS company in the world.

We're going to keep perfecting our AI-powered dashboard and preparing for heavy customer acquisition. Our short-term goal is to build the best eCommerce growth platform in the world. Our long-term goal? To help as many small businesses as possible thrive on Amazon and Walmart.


What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

The Autobiography of Indra Nooyi is a great memoir by the trailblazing former CEO of PepsiCo.

For a dozen years as one of the world’s most admired CEOs, Indra Nooyi redefined what it means to be an exceptional leader. The first woman of color and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company — and one of the foremost strategic thinkers of our time — she transformed PepsiCo with a unique vision, a vigorous pursuit of excellence, and a deep sense of purpose. Learned a lot reading the book.

In terms of inspiration, I've found reading books by other founders and learning about the mistakes they've made to be incredibly valuable.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?

Resiliency is key — if you don’t trust in yourself, nobody will.

Every young entrepreneur must be aware of the concept of sunk cost fallacy. The sunk cost fallacy is our tendency to continue with something we’ve invested money, effort, or time into — even if the current costs outweigh the benefits.

When we fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy, we make irrational decisions that are in our best interest — essentially digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole. You should always be adaptable and ready to change if you want to succeed.

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, only if one remembers to turn on the lights” — Albus Dumbledore

Where can we go to learn more?

If you want to learn more about XENA and how it works, the best places are: