The New E-commerce: Ali Sammour on Simplifying Web3 Adoption with Droplinked

The New E-commerce: Ali Sammour on Simplifying Web3 Adoption with Droplinked 

Ali Sammour, CEO and co-founder, explains how Droplinked, a Berlin-based Web3 RetailTech that joined Hub71+ Digital Assets last November, bridges the gap between Web 2.0 and the Internet of the future.

How did you and your co-founder, Morteza Nokhodian Esfahani, come together?

After the company I was at [AddThis] was acquired by Oracle, I spent several months travelling and thinking about what was next. I was innately driven to focus on retail tech, so I wrote a proposal to a government entity in Canada and ended up winning a massive grant. But I needed a technical co-founder to help me spearhead it. 

Morteza Esfahani, whom I had connected with on LinkedIn 11 years ago, had built a mall technology after he graduated from college, but it had no traction. We have very complementary skill sets; I drive product, vision, UX, UI, and I’m able to bring in enterprise clients and go from zero to one pretty well. He’s very good at technical architecture, infrastructure, putting together teams and processes to execute on that. 

So, we met in the middle and started working remotely, initially on a company bridging online and offline commerce. We got accepted in a Google IoT accelerator in Berlin and, after going through different waves of technology, ended up building Flatlay, a social commerce marketplace in 2016. 

Why did you decide to move into blockchain and launch Droplinked?

In 2017, Morteza was already deep in the blockchain space and suggested we decentralise the way creators and brands get paid on Flatlay, doing it on Ethereum. So, we built the technology but it wasn’t very scalable. We decided to open-source the work and focused on scaling Flatlay to profitability, with 1,000 D2C brands and over a million creators. 

Then, in early 2023, a number of blockchain ecosystems asked us to build Web3 e-commerce solutions for them. We started on Bitcoin, because of one of these ecosystems stacks that reached out to us, but we knew that, because Bitcoin is still technologically being innovated upon, it wasn’t the most effective. So, for Droplinked, we shared on Ethereum what we had built on Bitcoin.

How does the solution work?

It’s Web3 storefronts similar to Shopify or Etsy, but on chain. You can sell your physical products, create products on demand, or sell digital items like NFTs. 

You can also authorise third parties to distribute and sell products on your behalf. All the inventory management and sales tracking are recorded on the blockchain, so none of the parties can be in conflict about what happened. If I’m a manufacturer, I know exactly the value of my product. If I’m an online co-seller or distributor, I know exactly what I’m entitled to – and all this is done in an automated and fully transparent way. 

What kinds of clients do you target? 

First, people who understand and want to use Web3 – for example, digital artists who can now pair their digital art with rules – who can use that product? How can items be manufactured with this IP so they’re the benefactors? 

Then, this accelerates with manufacturers and businesses. Today, in traditional commerce infrastructure, many brands and companies working with third parties have a lot of intermediation cutting into their margins and profits – whether it’s tracking attribution for sales, merchant processing on credit cards, etc. We remove all that and bring more value to all parties.

We now work with three major manufacturers and we’ve started partnering with more. And over 150 different small to medium businesses use us today. We’re also beginning to move into Web 2.0 corporations and enterprises that want to expand their inventory with digital goods, become compliant with the EU digital product passport (DPP) standard coming down in 2026, and/or have the benefits of all the Web3 attributions while de-risking and future-proofing their enterprise. 

Introducing a new kind of technology always requires a lot of education. How do you approach this challenge?

We’ve simplified the ways people can get started. They can create a store with a couple of clicks without knowing anything about Web3. 

They can also design products in real-time and display them for sale directly. The infrastructure records the item when it gets produced and puts it on chain in the background, without users needing to know about any of that. 

And we have sections like ‘Connect your wallet,’ ‘You want to earn more than 20% vs. the 3% that you own,’ ‘Remove credit card payment,’ or ‘Add crypto payments,’ with information buttons that teach users the benefits.

What are your revenue streams?

We have for-profit services for the tools used to build on-demand products. For enterprises, it’s based on volume, depending on the number of products recorded. 

What are the next steps for Droplinked?

We’re excited about kicking a new product that we started just last month, called Payment Pairs, which helps communities incentivise their member, with some sort of tokenisation. And then, we’re scaling up our enterprise solution, supporting Fortune 500 companies to leverage the full technology suite that we’re providing.

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