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Bolt aims to solve one ‘huge problem for retailers,’ CEO says

Bolt CEO Maju Kuruvilla joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss online shoppers dropping off at checkout and what Bolt is doing to help retailers solve that issue.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: It has been anything but plain sailing for the fintech sector. In recent months, growth plans have been under scrutiny as rocketing inflation weighs on those lofty pandemic-era valuations. So is adapting to the new reality the best strategy? Well, online checkout software maker Bolt is gearing up for a future in fashion. The payments company partnering with Revolve to speed customers through purchases.

Let's bring in Maju Kuruvilla. He is the CEO of Bolt, joining me here in studio. It is great to have you on today on the back of this big launch that you have with Revolve. Talk to me about how this came about and how this allows you to expand your footprint.

MAJU KURUVILLA: Bolt has been helping with one-click checkout for retailers of all size and scale. And so we help retailers to solve their checkout problem. Around 70% of shoppers, OK, like, drop off right at checkout. That's a huge problem for retailers. We allow to solve that problem with the one-click checkout solution.

Now, we are finding that more and more retailers want to solve that problem on their website but also on the physical space. So Revolve and as we have been able to come out with a solution, with a checkout link solution that allows people to just scan a QR code in a physical space and just buy it with one click.

AKIKO FUJITA: It's important to note, for those who maybe are not as familiar, when you say "one click," it is about having all that information already in there. You know, we've all have that experience going online, having to input everything. A lot of times, it's kind of just left in the basket, right? People don't finally do the checkout. To what extent has Bolt been able to convert some of those purchases over?

MAJU KURUVILLA: Yeah, that's a great question. So like I mentioned, around 70% of shoppers just come all the way to checkout and they don't check out because they have to type in all that information all over again. And they have had the great experience with Amazon, where they can just go in and you can just buy with one click. So now they come here. They want to convert with that one-click solution. And with Bolt, we are seeing that more than 50% of shoppers who have-- can get that one-click checkout experience are converting more.

AKIKO FUJITA: It's-- obviously, you're a private company. This has been a tough time for many private startups who have struggled to raise money amid the downturn that we've seen-- been seeing. Your last fundraising round valued the company at $11 billion.

MAJU KURUVILLA: That's right.

AKIKO FUJITA: What does that-- where is that environment right now? I mean, are you able to still get capital through the door, even with these concerns of all the headwinds, especially in the fintech space?

MAJU KURUVILLA: Yeah. I mean, the market has been tough, and you can see that across the board. The good thing for Bolt is, we have been very successful at raising money before. And the reason for that is, we are solving a very important problem for retail, and the-- the way we are solving it is very unique. No one else has a solution like Bolt, which is providing a one-click solution but natively branded for the retailer. If you look at the one-click checkout space, there are other players like PayPal and others that are trying to solve this problem. There's a lot of alternate payments that are also trying to solve this problem.

The difference with Bolt is, Bolt is not adding another button. We are not creating another friction into the process by adding another consumer brand in the middle. We are able to provide a checkout solution natively branded on the merchant side. And that is huge for merchants because merchants want to connect directly with the shoppers. Shoppers want to know a lot more about the merchant because they care about where they are spending their money, who they are supporting by every single dollar.

So merchants and shoppers need to be connected really well. Bolt is able to connect that shopper and the merchant together without creating any additional friction in the middle by providing almost a gray-label product. And that's why companies like Revolve really pick Bolt because they-- they want to control the experience of the consumer, and they want a branded experience, a Revolve-branded experience. And Bolt is the only product that can provide a merchant or a brand that experience on their side and yet provide that one-click checkout experience, connect with the consumer at the next level.

AKIKO FUJITA: With that said, it's been a bit of a choppy go for the company this year. You obviously stepped into the role after founder and CEO Ryan Breslow stepped down. There were the comments on Twitter. There was a "New York Times" piece that said you were inflating your numbers in your metrics as well. You've been hit by some merchants who've said the technology you've offered didn't live up to the promises. Is more investor scrutiny warranted on your company?

MAJU KURUVILLA: Well, you found that the ABG was one of the-- the problems you mentioned before, our partnership with them, and we settled that. And I don't know, you notice, like, the ABG CEO himself said they partner with top companies, and they look for the absolute top partners when they work with. And Bolt is one of those partners we-- they are excited about working with.

So we are continuing all those partnerships. And what is interesting is, our product, that helping retailers, is becoming more relevant right now because e-commerce was-- had a great time in the last few years. And obviously, the pandemic kind of accelerated that growth, and now what we are seeing is a slight decline in that e-commerce from that pandemic peak.

And so when there is a decline, what a lot of retailers are looking for is, how do they engage with their customers? How do you provide a great experience with their consumers, and how do you convert more of those visitors coming to your site? And the product we have and what we are able to help retailers with is just that problem. So in a lot of ways, conversion on the retailer side is becoming a bigger problem for everyone, and we have a very unique product that no one else is able to provide. And so we are able to create this partnership.

So you just saw Revolve signing up with us, and we are very excited about the product that we are able to launch right now at the Fashion Week. Yesterday, we were there. I was spending time with the-- you know, the Mike and Michael yesterday, talking about all the great things we can do together, even for Revolve. They are a very good tech company. In fact, they bring a lot of tech and data to the-- to fashion. That is very unique about Revolve.

So they have a high bar on who they work with. And they were saying even, like, you know, they hire great engineers. They have great products. So whenever they hire anybody from outside or partner with anybody from outside, they want to make sure that, you know, they work with somebody who then raises the bar.


MAJU KURUVILLA: Bolt has a great product and has great engineers and great technology.


MAJU KURUVILLA: So we are continuing that partnership with Revolve, with ABG, with Fanatics which is one of the largest e-commerce brand that's growing. And they signed up with Bolt to be used as a checkout for all of their portfolio. So we're excited about the opportunities we have. You know, we are kind of putting a lot of those challenges behind us, and now we are looking forward for all the growth together with this--

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah. Well, you're certainly marking another milestone with this partnership, and we appreciate you stopping by on a busy week. Maju Kuruvilla, Bolt CEO, joining me here in studio.