These days, it’s a safe bet that you or someone you love has recently bought a fabulous find on Etsy. Although the artisan or vintage seller you patronized may not be from Brooklyn, the company behind it all certainly is.
DUMBO-based Etsy – one of the powerhouses of the tech sector – had a big month. Not only did the startup raise $40 million in new venture capital funding to fuel their global expansion, but it also became one of the country’s largest certified B Corporations – a status granted to companies that hold themselves to very high social and environmental standards. And they did all this while helping their sellers sell close to 3 million items in the month of April alone.
At the helm of Etsy is CEO Chad Dickerson, a board member of the DUMBO Business Improvement District and a major champion for the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. In his announcement, Dickerson recounted the size of Etsy when he joined the company in late 2008: 50 employees and $7 million in monthly sales. “Almost four years later,” he said, “many things have changed.”
“We have different offices near the Brooklyn Bridge, a working elevator, almost 300 employees, and last month alone, the community sold about $65 million in goods,” said Dickerson. “Do the math; that is 900% growth at a Brooklyn-born company.”
These accomplishments are inspiring, and so is Etsy’s business model. Their website, Etsy.com, empowers individual entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and sell on a small, medium or large scale via Etsy’s 1.3 billion monthly page views. But the B Corp status takes Etsy to a whole new level. They are now essentially telling the world and their investors that they are going to weigh more than just financial return in their business decisions. As Dickerson explained, “We wanted to hold ourselves to a higher standard than most companies and articulate the guiding principles for Etsy that would be an anchor as we grow and change. There is no doubt that Etsy has been a successful business, but we don’t want to be just that. We want the company to last for a very long time and clearly stand for something in the world.”
Etsy is certainly not the first New York company to make social good a core part of its business model. Many local Brooklyn entrepreneurs are launching socially-minded businesses. Take, for example, Brooklyn Roasting Company, Flocabulary, BioLite and Holstee, just to name a few. Etsy’s scale and ability to raise significant capital while maintaining these social standards is what sets their latest announcement apart.
Consider the following statement by Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures, who provided part of the $40 million in funding: “We believe that the best long-term stewards of Internet-based networks and marketplaces will focus on value creation for all participants instead of solely on shareholders. Benefit corporations provide a legal foundation perfectly supporting this much more comprehensive outlook.”
That’s an incredible stance for a venture capitalist, who, by design, is focused on make a high return on his investment. This is awesome, and it is all happening here in Brooklyn!
Etsy is the world’s handmade marketplace, made up of individual artists and crafters who maintain their own online shops. By empowering people to build businesses and relationships in a marketplace that reconnects producers and consumers, Etsy aims to change the way the global economy works – via very small businesses having much more sway in shaping the economy – and values authorship and provenance as much as price and convenience. Etsy brings heart to commerce.
55 Washington Street, Suite 512
Brooklyn, NY 11201
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Founded: June 18, 2005
- Offices: 300 employees in offices at DUMBO, Brooklyn; Hudson, NY; San Francisco, CA; and Berlin, Germany. Etsy Labs educational workspaces in Brooklyn and Berlin, with pop-up spaces elsewhere.
- Sales and reach: $525.6 million in sales in 2011; over 15 million members; over 875,000 active shops with over 13 million items listed; over 42 million unique monthly visitors; 150 countries with annual transactions.
- Cost: $0.20 per listing fee; 3.5 percent commission per sale.
- Funding provided by Sean Meenan, Spencer and Judson Ain, Union Square Ventures, and the founders of Flickr and Delicious.
Alexandria Sica is the Executive Director of the DUMBO Improvement District, which helps foster, market and network businesses in the neighborhood. Visit www.dumbo.is.