I recently sat down with Joseph Einhorn, founder of The Fancy. His company seeks to be a next-gen Amazon. Rather than starting with the product, it's starting with the person.
In a nutshell, what's The Fancy about?
We wanted to build a website that would be as fun to shop on the web as your favorite store is in real life. A place where you could easily find all the coolest things in one place and be able to buy them right there without having to click out to other websites. For example, I love to go to the apple store in real life. But there is nothing on the web, not even Apple's on site, that feels as good. Hopefully we can be that site.
You and I talked about the misuse of the term platform? Do you see The Fancy as a platform? If so, how?
Think about it from the perspective of an emerging fashion or product designer. What do they get from us? They get distribution. They get merchant tools (manage inventory, manage orders, calculate shipping and taxes, etc.). They get great visual representation of their products (stuff on our site looks its best) That sounds like a cool platform to me.
Why do you pay users to join? How long can that last?
The invite incentive program we have in place can last as long as we want it to. We are giving people credit towards purchases on our site. We make a cut from stuff we sell on the site. The incentives are tied towards bringing on more users who are buying more things generating more commission for us.
The Fancy seems to be based upon a fundamentally different model than other "ecommerce sites." When I heard about it, I thought of The Experience Project, a Facebook alternative that seeks to organize people on the basis on interests, not personal connections. Seems like the Fancy's approach to commerce is based comes from an equally different place. Yes?
Let me simplify. Online shopping is broken. In real life I go to an amazing store like the Apple store or Barney's and I see all the coolest stuff in the world and have a great experience. But even my favorite stores don't have a great online experience. When you go on Fancy you are looking at the coolest stuff in the world selected by the coolest people in the world and one click and you buy it.
The Fancy offers a wide array of merchant tools to facilitate product distribution, sales reporting, and representation of their products. Talk about how these tools encourage innovation and your company's growth.
In order to make a marketplace work you need cutting edge tools for sellers. Manage your inventory, manage your orders, calculate shipping, taxes, etc. Print shipping labels.. whatever our merchants and brands need in order for this to be convenient for them. Want this to be as easy or easier than any other setup they might be using. And of course free.
Talk to me about curation. What's The Fancy's philosophy towards selecting content? How does your platform enable this?
Our community is self-teaching. When a new user signs up for the site they see the best posts with the best images, links, titles, naming conventions, etc. So should they decide to contribute they have the blueprint. We just provide the platform. Our top users see something they like added by a new user, they fancy it which means all of their followers see it, and all of a sudden the new user is a superstar.