Photo: The Fancy
Joe Einhorn has been an entrepreneur since age 16; he joined CapitalIQ as its first employee.Now he is working on his third startup, The Fancy. The Fancy launched last year with an $18 million investment from Ashton Kutcher, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, Bob Pittman and others.
It is a social photo sharing site and digital catalogue, not unlike Pinterest. Instead of pinning photos, its 250,000 registered users can “fancy them” and share uploaded images with each other.
It is smaller than the 11 million strong Pinterest community but The Fancy’s users are highly engaged. Yesterday users fancied 150,000 items; last week they fancied 1 million. It’s also more male focused with a 60/40 split.
The Fancy has an amazing team of influencers behind it too. The board consists of Square’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, PPR Chairman Francois-Henry Pinault and LeRoy Kim of Allen & Company. Kanye West tweets about it.
Despite all that, The Fancy has one big problem. It doesn’t generate much revenue. Neither does Instagram or Pinterest. The photo sites are pretty but unprofitable.
Today, The Fancy is starting to change that. It’s launching a complete ecommerce experience, from product discovery to purchase confirmation, without ever leaving the site.
Here’s how it works.
Users will continue to post images from across the web on The Fancy. Merchants will browse fancied items and click an “I want to sell this” button if they have it in stock. The merchant will name a price, list the quantity available and use The Fancy to fulfil orders.
For example, Etsy items get posted frequently. Its merchants can peruse The Fancy, find their products, and sell them to users who have fancied them and pre-stated their interest.
As images become available for purchase, interested users will receive a notification. Products can be added to their shopping carts, bought and shipped on The Fancy while merchants can manage inventory on the back end.
Vacations can also be booked on The Fancy. If a user posts an image of a resort or a destination, another can check availability and book rooms.
Users can save their personal information and track orders from The Fancy too.
The Fancy will take 10% off group deals and a traditional referral fee on hotel reservations.
Founder Joe Einhorn calls the ecommerce solution a reverse Groupon. “Instead of Groupon where the company tells you what to buy and the price, people can decide what they want and merchants can fill that demand with a self-service bid system.”
If all goes well, the step into ecommerce will make The Fancy more like an inventory-free Fab than Pinterest, creating and monetizing user demand all at once.
Here’s what the backend will look like for merchants managing inventory:
And here’s what it looks like for users: