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Products and Markets Team Creates Micro-Etsy

The idea for the Products and Markets project came to Camille Girard pretty quickly. “Sometimes I make cool stuff and I think maybe I would like to sell it and not having it lying around,” said Girard. Of course there are already online forums for creative people to sell their wares, like Etsy, but those sites are geared toward budding entrepreneurs who have a lot of items for sale. It can also take considerable effort for crafters and artists to get up and running.

So Girard and her fellow Products and Markets teammates came up with “The Phoenix Buys,” a hyper-local, Etsy-like site filled with handmade wares from Olin students. When students have something to sell they can post a picture with the price, and buyers use the mobile payment service Venmo to make the sale. All pickups are local, so shipping isn’t a problem. The Phoenix Buys doesn’t have curated pages, or complicated e-commerce add-ons. For one, there wasn’t time to make them, but the simplicity of the site makes it easier for sellers and buyers to connect.

The team includes Girard, Nathan Estill, William Manidis, Shyheim Russell and Nathan Shuster. 

The assignment asked the students to create a product and see if it has a place in the market. They have two weeks to come up with the idea, develop it and test it out. “We sent out an email to all the students, built the website within an hour and we started hearing from people within 30 minutes after that,” said Manidis.

Currently on the site there are items for sale ranging from drawings to origami flowers to cross-stitch Pokemon figures to handmade knives. So far there have been more than 100 visitors to the site, although they have yet to actually make a sale. 

With just a few days to go before they were due to present their idea to the class, the team was headed over to Wellesley and Babson to meet with students and see if the idea has some traction on the nearby campuses.

“We have the site for a full year so we are thinking about working on it for one of our future projects,” said Girard.

After all, Etsy launched in 2005 with a three-person team and a site that took just over two months to build. It now has 54 million users and revenue of almost $200 million.