Marketplaces for designers’ products and hand-crafted goods have long been around. Two of the biggest marketplaces are Etsy and Fab.com. To paint a better picture of how lucrative the business is, Etsy recently revealed that they have more than 20 million members in nearly 200 countries, with sales crossing the $700 million mark in 2012. Fab, on the other hand, recently won as the best e-commerce application at the Crunchies and now has more than 11 million members worldwide.
While Etsy and Fab are dominating in the west, here in Asia, a similar marketplace is slowing catching up with the two giants. Based in Taipei, Pinkoi was launched back in 2011. The online marketplace to buy, sell and share all things designed is founded by Peter Yen, Maibelle Lin and Mike Lee. CEO Peter was previously the team lead at Yahoo Social Search group, while Maibelle is the CCO and Mike wears the CTO hat for Pinkoi.
Pinkoi generates more than double the sales volume of Etsy during first year
Pinkoi lists designer products and hand crafted goods from Asia based designers. Currently, there are almost 50,000 listings on Pinkoi, with more than 2,000 brands and 7,000 designers on their fast growing platform. While undisclosed, Peter shared that in 2012 alone, Pinkoi was generating more than double Etsy’s first year’s sales volume of $170,000. The platform also boast an impressive 4 million monthly page views.
Of course, reaching this traction is not without its difficulties. Peter shared that while Pinkoi has a great variety of designers and brands on board, one of the many things they are focusing on right now is to educate and incubate the brand owners to think and grow big, and to always put global markets and perspectives in mind.
“By giving them a bigger vision and helping them grow their business, we build the design ecosystem,” Peter says.
Pinkoi looking for US$1.5M – US$2M in funding to fuel hockey stick growth
With the company going through a hockey stick growth now, Pinkoi is currently looking for funding to fuel its growth. The company is looking for a US$1.5 to US$2 million dollar investment to focus on its mobile growth as well as international market expansion. When I spoke to Peter, he shared that their biggest challenge is that they “need to move faster to fulfill the demand from our potential buyers. People from other countries are keen and eager to buy but due to limited resources, we still have lots of room to improve in terms of logistics, easy to mobile browsing and language localization to improve the overall experience.”
“We will first focus to improve our mobile web experience and get into more personal to native apps on mobile devices. For markets, we will be re-affirming our stances in Taiwan and expanding to Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia while the interests of design and lifestyle items are getting bigger and bigger.”
Love-hate relationship with Taiwan
When I met the team at Taipei last year, Peter and I had a chat and brief discussion on the Taiwan startup ecosystem. Peter reinforced the fact again that while there are some disadvantages in getting investment fundings in Taipei, basing in Taiwan is actually perfect for Pinkoi.
“Taiwan has a world recognized reputation in design, ranking top 3 in all major design awards with Germany and Japan. And it’s a good starting point to attract great designers and new bloods (each year, Taiwan produces around 60K design related graduates) to join us and due to a hybrid culture and flexibility so the variety of design are amazing to build up a full dimension and of course, intellectual property are a more widely-adopted concepts in Taiwan so it makes a good starting point.”
If you are into designers and hand-crafted products, or if there’s a startup in Taipei you need to know about, do check out Pinkoi.
I expect great things to happen to Pinkoi soon. Great team that executes and ships, and of course, great traction.