While working together at a local tech company, Lauren McCullough and Harry Park discovered that the auto parts e-commerce space had more problems than solutions.
Many auto parts distributors who used dropshipping (a process in which third-party retailers take customer orders without holding inventory) struggled to understand how their products performed. This method often comes with limited data, making it difficult for sellers to know how to grow their business.
Earlier this year, McCullough and Park launched Tromml, a Chapel Hill-based startup. Tromml is an analytical solution specifically tailored for drop shippers of aftermarket auto parts.
Tromml’s platform helps aftermarket sellers monitor performance and sell profitable products under the tagline “ecommerce reports, designed for automotive dropshippers.” It helps to confirm. No matter where your data resides: inventory feeds, market data, order reports, supplier purchase orders, Tromml brings it all together in one place.
There are many data platforms out there, but they provide common reports, says Park. Tromml’s approach is to slice it vertically and make it industry-specific.
Tromml helps sellers understand how to grow their business based on good analytical reporting, not guesswork, says McCullough. Car dealers want to be data-driven, but don’t know how.
“This is their livelihood,” she said. “[Sellers]want people to feel like they can go to their kids’ soccer games and not have to check their phones all the time.”
Tromml was recently selected as one of 15 startups to receive a $10,000 MICRO grant from NC IDEA. Other local recipients include BCombs, Dojo Fresh, Givefinity, Commission, and TSV Analytics. [The links are to previous GrepBeat feature stories.]
The funding will contribute to several initiatives, McCullough said. The company plans to hire data analysts to increase the number of analytical reports generated for the platform. It will also be used for sales and marketing in 2023 and for conference attendance.
Being able to attend meetings is very important, says McCullough. That’s where most of the high performing sellers go, and they’re usually looking to buy.
Connection to the Triangle tech scene
Both co-founders are considered North Carolina “transplanters,” but McCullough and Park have long been involved in the local ecosystem.
Since moving to Triangle from Ohio in 2015, McCullough has worked directly with early-stage startups such as backing organization NC IDEA and startups ArchiveSocial (now Optimere) and Quinsite. She said her large network in Triangle’s ecosystem has proven to be invaluable, with a significant amount of support in store for upcoming founders.
“When you’re looking for feedback, you can really start to tap into that[network]and figure out how to be able to coach,” says McCullough. “We are always looking for people to punch holes in our ideas.”
Meanwhile, Park, from Alabama, has lived in the Triangle for over a decade. He has always lacked entrepreneurial spirit and has tried to launch several startups in the past. One of them is his TheraGo, his Chapel Hill electronic medical record for physical therapists.
Park said he and McCullough complement each other well. McCullough is a great communicator and relationship builder, but he also completes the platform and ensures that the client’s needs are met.
Tromml client profile
It’s still early days, but the Tromml team recently started working with a pilot customer a few months ago and is encouraged by the feedback so far. They hope to get a few more customers soon.
According to McCullough, their ideal client profile is an auto parts distributor large enough to generate significant sales, but not large enough to invest heavily in analytics. The Tromml team is particularly interested in working with people who already track data manually in Excel sheets.
“We are working with people who make at least $1M+ a year on Amazon and eBay and are using drop shipping as their primary fulfillment method for selling auto parts online.” said McCullough.
Park said he is currently focused on creating integrations specific to the auto parts industry with the goal of becoming a custom analytics solution.
“How can we continue to deliver reports and dashboards and offer a variety of solutions to stick with the service?” he said.
For example, most of his clients tend to be more visual, Park said. Therefore, the point is to present the data visually using graphs and numerous charts.
They haven’t seen a product like theirs yet, McCullough said. Other solutions have been less successful due to their generalized approach. In addition to acquiring more customers, we will focus on building our platform and expanding our business in 2023.
When asked how supply chain disruptions have affected Tromml, she said those disruptions make the need for good data all the more important.