Even a novice ecommerce analyst would concur that if an ecommerce startup manages to achieve a repeat-buyer rate of 40 percent and crosses the $1 million mark in revenues after just six months of trading, it’s onto a pretty hot business idea. And this is precisely what Grand St., the New York startup aiming to become the Etsy of electronics, has done.
Etsy for electronics
Co-founder Amanda Peyton realized that there are tens of thousands of hardware startups in existence, creating seriously snazzy consumer gadgets that you simply won’t find in stores. Things like “Everpurse”, a bag that doubles as a smartphone recharger, or modular robotic kits, or “smart” dog collars. The list goes on.
After curating a small daily selection of goods since its launch last July, the startup decided last month to expand its ecommerce store into a larger marketplace for indie hardware designers. Aptly named “Marketplace”, the new initiative has a number of key features which seasoned ecommerce analysts will recognize have real potential to make it the electronics version of Etsy.
Firms with products ready for purchase can list them on Grand St, which takes an 8 percent cut of the sales. But Marketplace will also cater to indie firms which have products not quite ready to ship: they’ll be able to list their wares for pre-order up to six months before they’re consumer-ready. Grand St won’t charge for these items but it will require proof that the product has been funded and that manufacturing has started (it’s restricted first batch of firms in this category to crowdfunded projects to weed out bad actors and overlong wait times). Finally, firms wanting customer feedback on their new gizmos can list their products on Marketplace under “Beta”, where customers will be sent the item in exchange for feedback.
A new community
The business-savvy ecommerce analyst will quickly appreciate that the indie market in consumer electronics has been hard to find, not least because of the expense involved for a small bunch of individuals to create a prototype. Crowdfunding initiatives like Kickstarter, HWTrek and Dragon Innovation have put paid to difficulties like that, however.
Grand St.’s Marketplace really does have the potential to do for indie hardware designers what Etsy did for the making and crafting community. Peyton believes it’s “the future of electronics.”