After working in e-commerce for nearly a decade, Taleh Karimli, Vusal Orujov and Orkhan Hajiyev recognized a common challenge that online shop owners faced.

They saw e-commerce shop owners struggling with conversion rate optimization (CRO), which is the process of boosting the percent of website visitors who make a purchase.

The main challenge? To do CRO well, store owners needed to be an expert in many fields. They had to write compelling sales copy, and also be proficient in coding, design, user design and analytics. Ever-evolving sales trends and tools also complicated the process of learning and implementing techniques that worked.

Determined to develop a better solution, the three friends created Nextsale. The SaaS product helps online shops convert visitors into buyers by growing their email and SMS lists through targeted widgets. The platform targeted shops drawing $10,000 to $2 million in monthly sales, Hajiyev said.

Growing Nextsale into a sellable business

The trio of techies released a beta of the project in the Shopify App Store in early 2019 — and within a month it was gaining traction.

Then Nextsale was named as a Shopify Staff Pick, which pushed the company to 1,000 installs, Hajiyev wrote in an Indie Hackers post. The group knew they were onto something and began talking with more merchants, asking questions about their business, challenges, and how they manage conversions.

“Being customer-centric and continuously talking to customers and implementing their requests pushed us to add a few more widgets to the platform like popups to grab email and SMS numbers, and sign-up bars with countdown timers,” Hajiyev wrote.

Nextsale’s early traction also allowed the co-founders to raise $200,000 from angel investors in 2019. The funding helped them round out a suite of conversion products and speed up its user acquisition. Nextsale expanded into WordPress, listed itself on the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace and developed a product that made Nextsale available as a custom offering.

With a pandemic boom, Nextsale sold to AppHub

COVID-19 lockdowns offered Nextsale an additional boost as millions of shoppers turned online. Early into 2020, Nextsale began receiving acquisition offers, but the trio held out for the right opportunity, Hajiyev wrote on Indie Hackers.

The co-founders decided to list their business on the acquisition marketplace MicroAcquire in 2021. It took two months to find their buyer, AppHub, which owns a suite of e-commerce apps, and the deal was finalized in November 2021, Hajiyev said in an interview with MicroAcquire.

The sale price was not disclosed. At the time of sale, Nextsale had about 4,000 customers and a team of five people, including the three co-founders, Hajiyev told They Got Acquired.

One insight Hajikev had during their sale: “Selling a business is hard,” he said, because you have to “understand your business again from scratch when you build empathy with a buyer.”

The Nextsale team is working on a new startup called Uvodo, a self-hosted headless e-commerce platform for digital agencies. “We‘re working with the same team and same behavior, but with bigger goals,” Hajiyev said.