“Don’t try to change human behavior”: Lessons from a startup founder

Salima Nadira

Growth Strategies


As an e-commerce founder or operator, you must have heard this saying:

“Meet your customers where they are.”

This time-tested sales and marketing philosophy has formed the basis of the strategy behind every e-commerce brand out there. It’s the reason why brands run ads to promote their products on social media, vie for coveted spots on retail shelves managed by bigger distributors, or hold pop-up booths and stores at larger events that attract massive footfall.

It’s very much this philosophy that guides our cofounder Saps in building the product you now know as Airboxr.

In this exclusive interview with the Silicon Jungle Chronicles, a podcast focused on growing startups from Singapore to the United States, Saps shares the philosophy behind his vision for creating Airboxr:

“Don’t try to change human behavior - embed yourself into what users already do.”

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A recent study showed that out of 976 spreadsheet users surveyed, 70.3% said they used spreadsheets frequently, and that most user frustrations with spreadsheets happened before any actual analysis could begin (Sheet Works, 2020). So instead of creating a new BI tool that users have to learn how to use - thus adding to the frustration -, Saps decided to make existing analysis workflows easier and faster.

While the most obvious market may seem to be small to medium businesses, spreadsheets have proven to still be the analytics tool of choice for brands making $15-50m, and are still very much embedded in the workflows of brands making $50-100m - and much more.

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Here’s a summary of the interview:

  • Saps narrates his background and Airboxr’s background. (0:30 - 3:16).

  • Airboxr is centered around bridging the gap between data analysts and business owners by being centered around spreadsheets because it’s a software business folks are familiar with (3:34 - 4:24).

  • Airboxr started as a query builder and was accessible as a Google Sheets plugin but we realized that businesses don’t know how to query their data directly from the APIs because they don’t know how the data is structured behind the scenes (4:25 - 5:10).

  • Saps speaks about cold outreach and how much easier it is to sell to US brands by embedding yourself into communities (7:20 - 9:10).

  • The majority of brands want to consolidate and automate their marketing reports into a spreadsheet/dashboard (9:52 - 10:34).

  • Our philosophy is not to try to change customer behavior. We focus on spreadsheets because it is what consumers are already familiar with (10:51 - 12:54).

  • Bad advice to founders: Founders shouldn’t pivot every 3 months because, in reality, you should try and reiterate through product improvements, positioning, and pricing since PMF takes a while to reach (14:30 - 15:38).

Watch the full interview.

Salima Nadira

About the Author

Salima is Head of Product Marketing at Airboxr. She works with leading DTC brands to help them make sense of their data for better decision-making. She is also a professional musician with an avid following on Spotify.

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