Massdrop is a new kind of Internet retailer. Actually, it’s technically not a retailer at all.
The site doesn’t have any kind of item on hand to sell you. Instead, it acts as a middleman between manufacturers, enthusiasts, and would-be customers.
“We started Massdrop three years ago with the goal of building a fundamentally better community for enthusiasts,” CEO and founder Steve El-Hage told Business Insider.
Basically, Massdrop is the next evolution of enthusiast-oriented communities like forums, IRC chats, and subreddits.
El-Hage noticed that these communities were doing group buys anyway, but with no real accountability or structure in place to help them. Enter Massdrop.
It works like this: Massdrop users vote for what product they would like to see on a “drop.” Coats, backpacks, boots, shoes, wallets, and belts are all available to be voted on, as well as watches, razors, camping equipment, headphones, and drones.
Once the poll closes, Massdrop will reach out to the brand of the top-voted product. If they decline, Massdrop will then reach out to the product with the second most votes. Within successful drops, 80% of items are offered for sale again through another drop.
Launched in July 2012, the site now has over one million monthly users. To keep up with that demand, Massdrop’s employees have ballooned from 14 just over a year ago to 70 today. The staff is projected to reach 110 by year’s end, according to El-Hage.
El-Hage says that the company’s unique relationship with vendors sets it apart from other failed flash sale websites. Massdrop prioritises relationships with its vendors and manufacturers in a few ways: it uses a third-party shipping service to get products to customers, it takes a small percentage of the profit, and it’s committed to connecting vendors with enthusiastic buyers.
Eighty to 85% of vendors list on Massdrop again.
El-Hage’s vision for Massdrop doesn’t stop at group buys. The company has also been experimenting with custom, community-designed products, and creating a platform for its community to share its expert opinions, information, and advice.
Massdrop just closed its Series B round of investment this month; it will be using the $US40 million it raised to further these goals.
The company is also looking to expand the categories it currently offers — such as men’s clothes, watches, and headphones — with aftermarket car parts, dog and cat products, and RC cars.