Written by David Silverberg
Ted Starkman never thought he’d be up to his chin in specialty socks, women’s wireless bras and body balms but he’s now very familiar with the retail strategies in selling these products – and many more – as CEO and co-founder of Stream Commerce.
The Toronto company is an end-to-end e-commerce solutions provider for more than 50 brands, managing their logistics, warehousing and site development responsibilities.
His team also offers mentoring and coaching to executives from small startups or large-scale businesses.
“It’s a lot of fun being an entrepreneur helping other entrepreneurs,” Starkman says.
Steam Commerce’s client list ranges from companies in beauty products to apparel to home goods. They work with brands such as women’s intimates apparel line Knixwear, men’s grooming firm Truefitt & Hill and home accessories powerhouse Umbra.
For example, working with Knixwear gave Starkman a chance to help their leadership team find new talent. Starkman says one of their offerings is assisting busy entrepreneurs by scouring the country for top talent.
As a Shopify Plus Partner, Stream Commerce harnesses the Shopify development platform to provide a strong online backbone for their clients.
“Shopify is such an amazing ecosystem, and there’s such a great talent base coming out of there,” Starkman adds.
He began his career as a lawyer, but swiftly developed a passion for the consumer goods space. For 13 years, he worked at The Shopping Channel, ascending to President and managing a team of 600. He also joined the Retail Council of Canada’s Board of Directors.
He founded Stream Commerce in 2014 because at the time he was mentoring startups big and small and spotted a common theme: “They were all amazingly talented entrepreneurs with great visions for their companies but they were doing all the heavy lifting. They were doing everything. We saw a way for us to help them with site development and infrastructure.”
The company bloomed from the roots of Stream Commerce's sister company, Think Logistics. It's a supply chain company focusing on “robotics logistics” which is as next-gen as it sounds. Fleets of Kiva robots travel within a secured area of the warehouse, seeking out and delivering movable shelving units to the pick station.
Fleshing out the e-commerce arm of Think Logistics felt like a natural move for Starkman and his colleagues. He’s entered a rapidly rising industry: ecommerce will account for 10% of total retail sales by 2020, up from 6.5% in 2016, according to an eMarketer report.
But Canada is still lagging behind their southern counterpart. A BCG report found that while almost 70% of American consumers make purchases online at least once a month, the comparable figure in Canada is only about 50%.
It’s not like Stream Commerce is going anywhere anytime soon. Starkman says Toronto is the ideal HQ for his company due to its “business advantage of strong talent and diversity of voices available to share differing views and perspectives.” He adds with a smile, “It’s home sweet home.”
What Starkman finds most fulfilling about his career is the coaching he offers to his clients. “I love that piece of what we bring to the table because I can see how coaching impacts an entrepreneur’s day-to-day life, almost immediately.”
Photo Credit: David Silverberg