Be an Anti-Entrepreneur – VarageSale CEO on B2C Markets (Part 2)
TORONTO: During Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017, Andrew Sider, CEO of VarageSale, shared his views on the short and long-term realities of B2C marketplaces and what future opportunities lie in the space. In Part 2 of this 3 part series, Sider shares his views on how to survive in the B2C world with incumbents like Facebook and Google.
“Think big, start really small. It’s anti-entrepreneur to do. It’s not in our DNA. But we have to force ourselves to do this. Think really hard about who you are serving, why users care.” – Andrew Sider, CEO, VarageSale.
After talking about reducing friction in B2C marketplaces (read Part I), Sider was asked, “With Google, Amazon and Facebook continually doubling in size, how do you survive in the world with them?”
“Large incumbents like Facebook and Google think big and launch big”, Sider said, “However, when you launch big it’s hard to know exactly what need you are solving, and later one has to go really deep on it. I think the advantage of a startup and the way new upstarts need to act is think big and start really small.”
Sider emphasized that the strategy of thinking big and starting small allows startups to identify an underserved niche and to build a product around a particular use case. Not only does this let the business slowly eat into other verticals over time, but it also gets the acquisition flywheel going with each user. This way the business can compete with incumbents on user acquisition.
Sider cited an example of how this strategy worked for VarageSale. “We focused on a safety message around a trust based system. So, when we go into a new city, mothers really resonate with that promise. With the combination of our hyperlocality, they could sell small, everyday items often related to the children or the home.”
By focusing on the mothers, Sider went on to say, VarageSale was able to get users who were under-using or not using existing classified services. “If you go to some cities like Ragina, Calgary, Victoria, we have replaced classified platforms by creating a niche with a lot of great activity and word of mouth. Initially it was mothers, who eventually tell their husbands, then their kids and then their group of friends.”
Sider was also quick to point out that this strategy takes a significant amount of patience. “It’s taken time and a lot of focus. As an entrepreneur you always want to think big, you always want to creep from your lane because you want to eat the world but thinking small to start it is very important.”
In the next part of this series, we’ll share Sider’s advice to budding entrepreneurs and young start-ups.
To see the full video for Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017: B2C Customer Acquisition, go here.
VarageSale is a virtual garage sale buy and sell app. It currently has users across the United States and Canada, as well as in Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK. The company is based in Toronto and funded by major investors including Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Andrew Sider joined the VarageSale management team in February 2014. He has helped found several companies, including BandPage (a marketplace for musicians to connect with their fans) and Bunch (a discussion app for interest-based groups).