Founded in 2015 by alumnus Tomas Zalatoris (MSc Management 2015) Clouder is the world’s first vaping marketplace for B2C and B2B. Tomas talks about how he spotted the potential of an emerging business market, the challenges in creating a new start-up and his aspirations that Clouder will become the world’s largest virtual vape store.
What is Clouder?
We are a marketplace in the same sense that Amazon is a marketplace, we empower 3rd party sellers to sell vape products on Clouder directly to consumers. Vape sellers can sign up to our B2B order management platform and start selling in less than 24hrs without having their own website. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Clouder aims to become the world’s largest vape store without owning any products.
How did you come up with Clouder?
I was always interested in two-sided marketplace business models, because they are incredibly difficult to build, and very hard to replicate once they are built (think Just Eat, Deliveroo, eBay). Whilst I was studying the MSc Management programme I specialised in Digital Business pathway and also worked part-time at one of Europe’s fastest growing start-ups iZettle. These experiences inspired me to create a marketplace type of platform, which initially was going to be used in the hospitality sector, however our team quickly noticed that the vaping space started to boom and there was incredible demand for our service. Therefore, we decided to focus on vaping space to consolidate thousands of vape sellers into one platform. I however must mention that the other co-founders Jonas Simanavicius and Sebastian Mineev and early investors played an equal role in this!
What’s next for Clouder?
We are looking to enable worldwide shipping, expand into other EU countries (starting with Germany and France) and allow our sellers to sell wholesale as well. There is a lot of room for growth, especially since our model has almost no borders!
What’s your proudest achievement with Clouder so far?
Getting industry recognition in such a short time. We have only launched the platform less than 12 months ago, and yet almost every single owner of the largest vaping companies in the UK already know us personally. Many of whom are already either investors or sellers on Clouder!
What do you hope to achieve with Clouder in 5 years?
We want to become de facto marketplace platform for buying vaping supplies online both B2C and B2B globally. I really believe that there will be a Just Eat size global vaping marketplace, and I hope this will be us! If we grow that far, we’d love to be acquired by Amazon, eBay or AliExpress.
How did your MSc Management help you to set up your own business?
It helped tremendously! I met my co-founders and I managed to find the first two angel investors as well. Also my course taught me all the theory I needed to know to run Clouder. Obviously there are things you cannot learn in the classroom, but it helps to know both the theory and practice.
What were the highlights of the MSc Management programme at the Business School?
Since I am in the tech industry I obviously liked the Digital Business pathway. We analysed many of the leading tech companies, and also visited some, such as eBay. The course is very well rounded, it gives a really good insight into management theory. I also liked the guest lectures from leading companies.
What do you miss most about studying at the Business School?
I miss being around so many talented people from all over the world and with different backgrounds in one building. I used to be amazed how smart, talented and hardworking some people at Imperial College were. I also liked attending quality events at the Business School with senior business leaders.
What were the benefits of living in London whilst studying your MSc Management?
The biggest benefit is that in London there are always plenty of opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. There are literally thousands of events across the year, so there is something for everyone. I happen to be interested in many things, so I was spoilt for choice!