An interview with Adam Stylo, founder of Fetchify
Adam Stylo founded Fetchify (then known as Crafty Clicks) in 2008. Although he sold the company to ClearCourse in 2019, he has remained as Chief Technical Officer for the last year as we transitioned. As he now leaves Fetchify for some well overdue time with his family, we find out about his experience founding the company.
Tell us a bit about your background and education.
I was born in Poland but moved to South Africa as a teenager and now live in the UK with my wife, Melinda, and two teenage kids. I’ve also lived in Germany, Netherlands and the USA at various stages of life.
After school I did an electronic engineering degree followed by an MSc in South Africa and then finished things off with an MBA at Cranfield in the UK.
So how did Fetchify come about?
About 12 years ago a friend and I were thinking of various business ideas. He was running an e-commerce shop already, and we researched setting up a parcel-booking company – similar to Interparcel and Parcel2Go who were just coming onto the market back then.
The idea for Fetchify (then Crafty Clicks) came while I was doing supplier research for the parcel business. We needed postcode lookup. There were a few suppliers on the market, but none looked great. I called Royal Mail directly and realised that there was an opportunity to launch a better product into the postcode lookup space.
A few months later I signed up as a reseller with the Royal Mail and was sent the PAF data. Some intense evening & weekends coding followed and in May 2008 a beta version of our postcode lookup API was live.
In October that year, the Crafty Clicks brand was launched at the e-Commerce Expo. The rest is history, as they say.
You got your first customers at this show? Can you remember who those customers were?
Actually the very first customer signed up before that show. It was Nordic House, who are still with us. I was active on the osCommerce forums, which was the platform they were using to run their online store. I coded an extension for them, they helped me test it and we had us our first paying customer.
The e-Commerce expo was a bit of a last minute idea, but we managed to secure a great deal on a tiny 2 metre square stand which was diagonally opposite from one of our competitors. Melinda, my brother and I took turns manning the stand and were surprised by the number of leads we were generating from people comparing us to our competitors.
After the show I continued coding plug-ins for the various e-commerce platforms and the company started to gain momentum.
What about first big brand customer?
The Royal Bank of Scotland was an exciting development as our business was still a part-time operation at that point. The call from them was redirected to my mobile while I was on holiday at the side of a lake, with kids playground noises in the background.
I was upfront that we were a small business and arranged to have a call a week later when I was back in the office. They were a client shortly thereafter and were delighted with the solution and level of service we were able to provide. The size of our company was not a liability.
What was the biggest challenge during your time at Fetchify?
The first five years were a massive challenge from a personal point of view. The company only had three people doing everything – Melinda, my brother and myself. We couldn’t take a proper holiday without the laptop and the phone being constantly switched on, and the business was not paying a lot yet. That was tough, but as client numbers grew, the potential was clear.
In 2014 we hired our first non-family employee and the team grew steadily from there. We had a lot of fun and things got much easier on the personal front.
What made you decide to sell Fetchify to ClearCourse in 2019?
I’m an engineer at heart and the business was very technology led. The product was superb, but sales and marketing were pretty much non-existent. We were growing fast and having fun along the way, but it was becoming clear to me that the business needed to focus more on the commercial side of things.
When an email from ClearCourse arrived in my inbox early in 2019, I responded and within a few phone calls it became clear this was a win-win opportunity where two plus two make five.
We talked about challenges, but what about hopes for Fetchify now that ClearCourse can help to build us up?
Since ClearCourse took ownership in April last year, the business has moved ahead in leaps and bounds already. We have a new CEO, a marketing function, a growing sales team and a few more developers. We rebranded, launched new products and a new website. During my handover period, as my own responsibilities diminished, it was amazing to see the growing team of professionals inject a whole new level of energy into ‘my baby’.
A part of me will miss being part of Fetchify, but I’m delighted that it is in good hands and on course for success.
All the best, team Fetchify!.
Adam on his last day at Fetchify, with a pierogi (a Polish dumpling)
We are a pioneer in SaaS address lookup and data validation solutions. We process millions of transactions each day for thousands of clients ranging from small e-commerce startups to large household brands such as Heinz and RBS. Our flagship products Address Auto-Complete and Postcode Lookup reduce friction on checkouts and registration pages and helps reduce failed deliveries by as much as 50%. Since launching in 2008, we have differentiated by our ease of integration and exceptional support.