Gregg Mojica and Sara Du knew there was a need for simpler integrations with ecommerce platforms because they had experienced it themselves. After becoming friends through the open source community, they started a Shopify store as a side project and became intrigued by the multitude of apps available in the Shopify ecosystem — a large selection of integrations for things like ERP, email and social media marketing, ads, marketing analytics, and more. Mojica and Du also found that stitching together these disparate tools was overly complex and that the tools were not geared toward ecommerce.
Their company, Alloy Automation, is a no-code integration solution that integrates with and automates ecommerce services, such as CRM, logistics, subscriptions, and databases. For example, Alloy can automate SMS messages to go out upon reaching fulfillment milestones. It can automatically start a workflow when an event occurs in an online store or in another app, create logic to define whether a follow-up action will be taken, and use conditions like order tags or customer location to set up automated actions that will pull and push data from connected apps. If order status is updated to paid and the total value of order is greater than $100, for example, Alloy Automation can automatically send a text message with a discount for an additional purchase.
Alloy is part of the MongoDB for Startups program, and this article looks at how Alloy uses MongoDB and also benefits from the partnership to overcome startup challenges.
Jobs to be done
Mojica, co-founder and CTO of Alloy, sympathized with merchants that were trying to connect multistage workflows using the limited tools that were available. "A lot of merchants have relatively complex flows," he said. "They're cycling through abandoned carts, checking if certain line items are present, and setting up very aggressive rules that historically you would have to program yourself. But a lot of merchants don't have the operating budget to hire expensive engineers to set up these rules."
Mojica applied the knowledge he had gained as an engineer in financial services to address the integration problems he and Du were experiencing as online merchants. Although Alloy was initially focused on solving general ecommerce problems, Mojica says he realized that the tools he was building could apply to more than just ecommerce. "Not only are we solving problems for merchants but also for software and SaaS companies," Mojica said. "Now anybody can build relatively complex automations without having engineering expertise. Alloy can templatize those things and offer them as recipes on our platform – we offer a business facing product called Alloy Embedded that allows anyone to effortlessly connect to our integrations by implementing our SDK. Businesses can get started very easily with just a few lines of code."
Alloy is a Y Combinator company — part of the cohort that was scheduled to demo their products in March 2020, the very moment the world “locked down” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It still raised $5 million in a seed round, followed by $20 million in Series A funding in February 2022. In that time, the company has expanded its platform to include more than 220 integrations, including MongoDB.
Alloy is a member of the MongoDB for Startups program, which provides Atlas credits among other benefits for young companies, and it uses MongoDB Atlas as the underlying database. Mojica cites several reasons for the close partnership between the two companies. "Atlas was the database we chose from the beginning. I personally have used MongoDB before, so I have a certain comfort level, and I was the first person that wrote code in Alloy," Mojica said. "But another big reason why I wanted to use MongoDB is the freeform nature of much of the data that we ingest. We connect over 220 integrations, each one has its own schema, and it's typically in JSON. So having a less structured way to store that information compared with something highly delineated like SQL has been very valuable to us."
Mojica and Du are acutely aware of the challenges startups face, especially managing technical resources. "We like the fact that MongoDB has really good support, there's built-in monitoring, and backups,” Mojica said. “These things allow you to get going quickly. There's a lot of pressure, especially in the very beginning, to get into Y Combinator. You've got to build the product, get customers, and start your fundraise. That's a lot to do in three months. What you don't want to worry about is all the DevOps stuff."
As startups begin to scale, they often become subject to compliance requirements that present new technology hurdles. Alloy went through the compliance process seamlessly thanks to the security capabilities and certifications behind MongoDB Atlas.
"We're servicing larger clients and seeing different use cases," Mojica said. "The compliance process involved questions about where we're storing data and if we're in different regions. Once your company is big enough, it's a major concern. Just having SOC 2 certification and making sure we're following all the various data privacy rules is really important. We're effectively an intermediary for customer data, so compliance is really important, like when we are deleting data for GDPR requests. MongoDB Atlas helps us with that. It's SOC 2 certified, and we can deploy in any region on any of the major cloud providers. For us, that meant setting up a Network Peering Connection to our AWS VPC from Atlas. So, from a security and compliance perspective, we know that's all taken care of."
Making the MongoDB connection
"We added a MongoDB connector to our platform because we were hearing interest from our user base,” Mojica explained. “If you want to integrate with a series of different tools and you're also sending data to MongoDB Atlas, instead of having to build those integrations every time, Alloy already has the infrastructure. You can just connect your system, stream the data, and we handle all the architecture. Something that would normally take weeks or months now takes only a few hours. That's the power of the no-code platform."
The Alloy–MongoDB integration includes bidirectional sync. "Your connection with MongoDB Atlas can go both ways,” Mojica added. “You can pull data and you can push data. You can do scheduled workflows once an hour or once a day, make a query, get some data from MongoDB, check if a record was added, and then send the data to another platform or destination. The bidirectional sync is really important, because integration really is the ability to get data, but also push data."
Support for startups
As a member of the MongoDB for Startups program, Alloy enjoys access to a wide range of resources, including free credits to our best-in-class developer data platform, MongoDB Atlas, and personalized technical advice, among other perks. Alloy leveraged the program from an early stage, as Mojica explained, "The credits were very helpful in the beginning, especially when you're in Y Combinator and don't have a lot of money in the bank. We recently started getting in touch for support. In fact, just knowing that we have support is very valuable."