Etsy was in the news this week as they raised another round of venture financing ($20M invested at a $300M valuation, according to the article).
I like this company. It’s an innovative concept in how it focuses on handmade and vintage items (and crafting supplies), it has an interesting, scalable business model, and it feels like they are just at the beginning of really taking off. Sales are nearly doubling year over year. And considering they are reportedly on pace for hosting ~$400M in gross merch sales on their platform (of which Etsy gets to keep around $35M), that’s saying something.
Etsy founder and CEO, Rob Kalin, started the company, as he puts it, “with two guys and a couple of cats in his apartment in Brooklyn”. [Kind of like the mythical, “two guys in a garage” entrepreneurial story – except it’s two guys and some cats.]
From an engagement model standpoint, Rob says that he has a vision for the site to be even more “social” in its approach and differentiation going forward. According to this video interview on TechCrunch TV, Etsy doesn’t just want to “slap some social stuff on the side…but wants to reinvent what commerce means as native to the web.”
Etsy is not just an interesting entrepreneurial success story in its own right, it’s also all about enabling, facilitating and providing a platform for thousands of individual sellers to be entrepreneurial. As a seller on Etsy, you not only list your items, but you can set up your own “shop” on the site, set your prices and policies, etc. There are a lot of sites that do this well (including eBay and Amazon), but there is something about the creativity, craft/vintage focus, and overall branding on Etsy that makes it extra special. Extra entrepreneurial, if you know what I mean.