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Updates on iCraft Site Redesign

iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1649


« on: October 18, 2021, 01:49:05 am »

Hello iCrafters,

I know, it's been awhile since we provided any updates on site redesign. Iíve been waiting for better news to share, but I also know that itís important to provide regular updates and to be open and transparent about our plans, so I am going to try and do just that.

For the benefit of the new members, I'll provide some background information too.

So a few years ago, we came up with a new expansion strategy for iCraft marketplace, the strategy that didn't include polluting current iCraft marketplace dedicated to handmade art and crafts, with items from manufacturers or new unrelated product categories, like vintage and crafting supplies. Our challenge is that people compare us to Etsy and other larger marketplaces, which also sell other product types and have more traffic. So we decided to build a new marketplace platform, which could potentially host an unlimited number of niche marketplaces and allow us to expand the business by adding new marketplaces to our portfolio. (I will write separately about the platform and itís features)

It was important for us to preserve the purity of iCraft marketplace and to come up with a seller-friendly strategy that would meet the needs of niche sellers, like artists, crafters, collectors and other small businesses. These sellers are currently mostly disadvantaged on larger platforms that prioritize power sellers and mass manufacturers.

Our new expansion model doesn't force sellers to compete with large manufacturers, while allowing us to grow business through additional related marketplaces. This is of course easier said than done. This basically required us to completely rebuild our technology and to look for additional investment.

We are getting closer to a point where we could launch an MVP or a Beta version of a new marketplace (see my post about Art & Craft Supplies Marketplace), but to relaunch iCraft on the new platform would still require more funding. Itís hard to migrate iCraft because this site has a lot of features that we might not have on the new platform initially. It also has a lot of content (14 years worth of content and historical data) and links pointing to it, so we need to be careful not to break anything thatís been working before and redirect old pages to new pages. It's important from SEO and user-experience perspectives. 

With pandemic, as many people struggled financially, we also struggled raising money to continue work on the new platform. We are now looking at more creative ways of how we could raise funds to complete the development work and to raise marketing budget, so we could take advantage of the new and more optimized eCommerce platform, and to generate more sales for all of you.

Crowdfunding
One of the suggestions that weíve got from our advisors is that if there is a strong interest in the community to keep iCraft marketplace focused on handmade, then we should be working with the sellers community and try crowdfunding. Weíve connected with a few people that ran successful crowdfunding campaigns in the past who could help us with it, but I still wonder what we could offer to people through this campaign, as we donít have any products to offer. Not sure if this will work well for services. However, this could raise awareness about iCraft and what we are trying to do. What do you guys think? Do any of you have experience with crowdfunding?

Equity Crowd-funding
We are also exploring Equity Crowd-funding options in Canada, and potentially, in the US. (weíd have to set up a US company for that though) This would actually allow many iCraft sellers to invest and become shareholders of the business (not just iCraft marketplace, but any other marketplace that weíd open on the new platform). In my mind, that would be ideal if people that sell on the marketplace, would also have a stake in it. Thoughts?

Investors
If any of you guys know accredited investors that might be looking for investment opportunities, please feel free to mention us. We are a SAAS eCommerce company. People can contact us through the site. We read all emails and will provide more information to potential investors.

As always, we are open to your ideas and suggestions. Thanks in advance!  Kiss
Fairy Cardmaker


Posts: 1112


« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2021, 12:20:34 pm »

Quote
It was important for us to preserve the purity of iCraft marketplace and to come up with a seller-friendly strategy that would meet the needs of niche sellers, like artists, crafters, collectors and other small businesses. These sellers are currently mostly disadvantaged on larger platforms that prioritize power sellers and mass manufacturers.

This is good to see.

I do make handmade things that could be considered supplies, but I'm not planning to make a whole business out of it. It would be nice to be able to "destash" actually supplies tho. Would "pre-loved" supplies (like tools) be allowed?

Re: Fundraising ideas:
Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is certainly an option. Aren't there versions that are actually donations? Where you don't have to give anything in return? (Like... go fund me?)

If you do want to give something in return.... here are some ideas:
  • Prepaid store fees - Offer a price point that would represent a discounted # of months of store fees - e.g. Pay $X now and you will get your first year free of store fees. (I don't know what that means for you if the site never launches - is that a refundable deposit? Perhaps you have to set that in the crowdfunding terms whether it is refundable.)
  • A badge - some kind of little icon that goes on your avatar or shop page somewhere (or both) that marks you as a "founder" of the new site. This would just be symbolic recognition. (Some people like awards!) You could even have different icons for different funding levels.
  • A Feature - A blog post where your shop/products are featured. Say you run 6 weeks of launch "feature stories" and every shop who funded gets a spotlight post
  • A bootcamp spot - Offer a seller's bootcamp session for the new site that is only available to those who funded
  • A free store critique by someone who understands SEO / online marketing

Equity Crowdfunding
Can be complicated to have many, small shareholders. Shareholders are entitled to regular reporting from the company. Are you prepared for that? Personally, I don't know much about SAAS companies - KPI's, industry trends, strategic visions. I would make a poor shareholder to vote on stuff. I suppose, you could make those shares all non-voting. There would be lots and LOTS of red tape to navigate for this option and you would need to educate investors on what those shares entitle them to and what responsibilities come with ownership.
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1649


« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2022, 12:08:26 am »

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your thoughtful response!

I believe Crowdfunding is the best way for us to raise funding we need to complete work on technology.
I like your ideas about what we could offer to people during the crowdfunding campaign. I also think that pre-paid stores and advertising placements are really good options.

Equity Crowdfunding works different in Canada and in the US.
In US, equity-based crowdfunding platforms permit investors to invest as little as $25 in a startup venture, allowing entrepreneurs to solicit small investments from a larger number of supporters. Those platforms consolidate all small investments and manage the whole process, so companies don't have to deal with thousands of individual investors.
I am researching Equity Crowdfunding in Canada. It doesn't look like it's as developed here as it's in the US, but I am still hopeful we'll find a good option.

It would be amazing if we could offer this option to our sellers community, to make them co-owners of the business.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2022, 12:16:43 am by iCraft Admin »
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