E-Commerce Consultant Hinge Grows Fast, Lands Backing Under Tech-Savvy Founder

E-commerce offerings startup Hinge Consulting LLC, which later landed a prime private equity deal kind of three years after its launch, bears the hallmarks of a virtual overnight achievement. Unlike many startup founders, though, its CEO arrived at entrepreneurship after an intensive corporate era career with roots in the U.S. Army.

Hinge commenced triumphing huge corporate clients almost from day one because the company helped manufacturers, retailers, manufacturers, and distributors boost e-commerce sales through accelerating their move-to-marketplace strategies for Amazon and different online systems.

“We manipulate the complete business for them and alleviate the complexity around having to analyze a new platform, or a brand new capability, by way of supplying facts about the market, developing a method after which implementing and executing that method on a day by day basis,” founder and CEO Fred Killingsworth stated in a recent interview.

The organization’s personal revenue, based totally on a “paid-for-performance” version, has accelerated through triple-digit possibilities yearly, with boom predicted to pick up pace this 12 months as the brand new backing fuels growth. In its first year, Hinge helped a toddler-merchandise customer carry its Amazon income to $60 million from $18 million, he said.

“We’re throughout about 30 one of a kind classes right now,” with worldwide conglomerates, publicly traded footwear manufacturers, child product businesses and meals companies among its consumer roster, which includes purse emblem Vera Bradley, Killingsworth said.
The profitable Cincinnati-primarily based enterprise also works with spice maker McCormick & Co.’s food offerings department on B2B sales to restaurant operators and has helped athletic shoe organization ASICS transition from a wholesaler relationship with Amazon to a supplier working its own keep and operating with strong point retail companions.

“This is an aggressive approach that has helped their wholesale area of expertise-retail channel grow and has grown the ASICS logo percentage on Amazon considerably,” referred to Killingsworth, forty-one, who labored as a senior development supervisor for Amazon before founding Hinge. “It became a huge undertaking and strategic investment to benefit greater control of their emblem and price within the market.”

While Fortune one thousand groups and other large customers contain most of the company’s international customers now, Hinge additionally serves a host of small businesses. One e-trade patron who had generated $2,500 in sales in December 2017 logged $ ninety-eight,000 in revenue in December 2018, Killingsworth stated.

“We’re making desires come actual,” he said. “It’s’ assisting an entrepreneur truly revel in extremely good success and sustainability. That’s fun.”

Clients regularly start with a non-cohesive digital and e-trade strategy, the usage of extraordinary branding on social media, their own internet site, and e-commerce structures, Killingsworth stated. Hinge implements a “holistic digital strategy throughout all e-commerce systems.”

If a customer holds simplest a 2 percentage class marketplace percentage on Amazon but an 18 percentage proportion everywhere else, Hinge attempts to fast close the gap, he said.

Investors and market watchers have taken be aware.

Killingsworth said he met with Jefferies Group analysts final month to offer insights on an enterprise-class, and on who’s and isn’t always doing well on Amazon. The investment bank additionally invited him to participate on a panel at its Brands Still Matter Conference in March. That form of idea leadership “is one of the reasons why we’re doing so nicely, mainly with the large customers,” he stated.

Last month, Vora Ventures, a Blue Ash, Ohio-based PE company targeted on B2B generation corporations, introduced that it had obtained Hinge.

“We believe that the B2B2C commerce market is poised for explosive boom globally,” Vora Ventures Executive Chairman Mahendra Vora stated in announcing the investment.

“Hinge’s verified price to its clients, relied on brand and dedicated crew will benefit from our international sources, strategic and infrastructural aid, and business improvement expertise,” Vora said.

The Vora partnership lets in Hinge to boom its generation investments and unexpectedly extend its global footprint, Killingsworth said on the time, noting the firm deliberate to amplify its presence in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and India.

With a 25-individual headcount in late January, Hinge has launched into a hiring spree in the United States and Europe. Killingsworth currently forecasted a 35-character staff by the give up of the primary region and greater than 50 with the aid of 12 months-quit. The staff includes 5 former “Amazonians,” inclusive of Killingsworth, and keeps a sturdy, cooperative dating with the e-trade giant, he said.

“Given our new equity companion, global growth, product releases, and robust blue-chip sales funnel, we anticipate to blow 2019, 2020, 2021 out of the water and retain triple-digit boom,” he said.

Vora, in search of a CEO for one of his portfolio agencies, reached out to Killingsworth about 3 years ago, the Hinge founder stated. Killingsworth, but, become centered on developing and walking his personal enterprise.

“As we started to develop and grow and develop,” he delivered, Hinge every so often struggled to fulfill market call for in the time frame needed. Vora helped out as “an outstanding business mentor and train” and investor, he stated.

The project firm has assembled the sort of technical expertise who can help Hinge with large customers and with mapping a multinational strategy. The partnership, Killingsworth said, “virtually gives us that scale and scope to take the whole lot to the next level.”

Killingsworth formed Hinge in mid-2015 and went full-time with the enterprise in early 2016 after spotting a problem that he stated many organizations faced in looking to behavior business on Amazon.

“They didn’t necessarily realize the way to do e-trade,” which includes a huge variety of competencies consisting of web design and stock control, he said. Mom-and-pop shops looking to promote on Amazon weren’t on my own; e-commerce additionally challenged task-backed firms and most important corporations.


Killingsworth concept he ought to solve the trouble – and launched the service quicker than he’d predicted after turning a prospective corporation into a customer.

When a toddler-tools agency tried to recruit him as an employee, he advised leaders there he wouldn’t be able to speedy make the modifications they wished as a group of workers member, however, should achieve this as an outside consultant. “Two weeks later I had an invitation to their board assembly to offer,” he said.

The possibility arose so quickly that Killingsworth called on a friend to install an electronic mail domain for his firm “actually whilst I was en path” to the assembly, he stated. He signed the customer inside some weeks. (This colleague became a partner, consistent with Killingsworth, who said he later sold him out.)

While Hinge has emerged and grown speedy, Killingsworth’s a hit tech profession paved the manner. After growing up on a dust avenue in rural North Carolina, he joined the Army seven days after his excessive faculty graduation, spending six years within the military and becoming a network engineer in the hundred and first Airborne.

“I’ve executed maximum matters the tough way,” taking a “blue-collar approach to things,” he stated.

After leaving the Army, Killingsworth joined Sprint Nextel and later Verizon Wireless, advancing via engineering, income and control positions on the agencies, eventually becoming VP and director of cellular enterprise improvement at credit card processor Vantiv earlier than a touchdown at Amazon.

While at Verizon, Killingsworth – “very lucky” in locating achievement in patron solutions sales and layout – landed a spot in a mentorship software, wherein the related with executives Marni Walden and Bobby Morrison. (Walden later performed an instrumental part in Verizon’s Yahoo acquisition; Morrison now oversees several Microsoft market segments.)

“They definitely helped form how I think about enterprise and the leadership fashion that I actually have,” Killingsworth said.

His very own philosophy and style appear to have served him nicely.

“Just assume large and paintings tough and the whole lot is feasible, and we continue to try to try this,” he stated. “Be amazing at the fundamentals,” he introduced. “Empower people.”