by Michael Clouser
SookeSpace, part of the creative triad in Sooke, has established a presence for Sooke makers and artists in Etsy. This team will benefit from a collaborative effort in marketing and promoting of Sooke-based arts and crafts, and peer-to-peer learning on how to build better and larger businesses on the Etsy platform which already attracts a large international base of buyers.
Early team members from Sooke include Catherine Sutherland from SookeSoap; Pat Godbout from patricgoudboutart; Vincent Fay from DirtyDragonStudio; Sarah Howells from PhotosbySarahHowells; and Jenna Lee from Jennaleeart.
Etsy is a certified “Benefit Corporation,” also known as a “B-Corporation.” This means it puts societal and environmental concerns before those of shareholders. In essence, it has legally bound itself to be a social and environmental enterprise. Another way to put this, using the parlance of the day, is that Etsy is an “impact venture.”
According to the B-Corp Community at Bcorporation.net:
“B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.
B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.”
Early this month, Etsy filed to offer its shares to the public in what is known as an “initial public offering” (IPO). Etsy has stated that it wishes to raise $100 million or more in this offering, which will most likely occur in the next few months. The author has provided the link to its filing with the USA’s SEC S-1 filing below. (However, in no way should this be construed as investment advice. That is a completely different matter).
According to its filing, Etsy has yet to be profitable, but its own revenues were almost $200 million in 2014. It facilitated about $2 billion in transactions between 1.4 million sellers and 19.8 million buyers worldwide. Etsy is based in Brooklyn (New York City) and is all the buzz on the streets right now as its expected to be the “largest tech IPO since 1999” for New York City, whose tech startup community has been waiting for one of its own to make it out big-time for 15 years. The expected market capitalization value is expected to be over $2 billion dollars. In a sense, its new shareholders will all be “impact investors” because of its B-Corporation status.
Etsy has a range of concerted community efforts including the training and development of its community of makers and artists, as well as acting as proponents of home- and craft- based businesses. The corporation, while large, is fighting in the corner for the little guy, the small business, the work-at-home mom who is managing a business and juggling the care of her children. Such tiny enterprises are often burdened by legal and tax regulations, and barriers to foreign trade that are unnecessary and impede progress and the raising of incomes for the less-than-wealthy amongst us. Etsy wants to change that equation. Expect to see more from the company in this regard as its pockets become flush. After all, it has promised to do so, and subjugated itself legally to the social and environmental mission, and a large part of that commitment is serving its community of sellers.
If Etsy makes it through the IPO as expected, it will be only the second B-Corp to do so. The other was Rally Sofware out of Denver, Colorado. This unique company serves non-profit institutions through its software development efforts and products. Other B-Corps you might recognize include Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia Warby Parker, and Natura (Brazil).
Etsy will use this funding to grow its teams, market its site, and expand internationally. This can only benefit its current members, who are already selling internationally. Etsy was originally a handmade-craft only site, but it has opened itself to other art and machine-made crafts, which hasn’t been without controversy the last few years. Etsy represents an “export-based” opportunity platform for Sooke-based artists and makers to sell their arts and crafts to distant lands. It is expected to be an important partner of SookeSpace as the vision takes root and the organization manifests itself both physically and spiritually.
The author of this article was fortunate enough to befriend the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Etsy, Kellnan Elliot-McCrae, during a 2012 excursion to South America with Geeks on Plane organized by Dave McClure and 500 Startups. The former chairman and an early investor was Caterina Fake, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, who co-founded Flickr with Stewart Butterfield who attended St. Michael’s University School and the University of Victoria. Kellnan worked with Flickr in the early days from 2006-2010 as a Software Architect.
SookeSpace is a the third leg of a vision for a triad of creativity and innovation in Sooke. The Sookerator is an accelerator of arts, technology and food ventures and organizations. SookeSpark is a planned annual event that will highlight creative activity and startups in Sooke. The Sooke triad is assembling various partners such as the Sooke Regional Chamber of Commerce, Pioneer Filmworks of Sooke, and Jenna Lee, an artist who is rendering the SookeSpace vision.
Additional links and references:
- Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/
- Sooke Makers and Artists team on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/teams/24186/sooke-makers-and-artists
- Member Pat Godbout’s art store on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/patricegodboutart
- Member Dirty Dragon Studios on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/people/CasitadelLoboStudio
- Member SookeSoap on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SookeSoap
- Member Photos by Sarah Howells on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PhotosbySarahHowells
- Member Jenna Lee Art on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/people/jennaleeartist
- What are B-Corps? http://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps
- Entrepreneur.com: How Etsy’s IPO could Spark Investor Interest in B Corps http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243162
- TEDx Philly: TED talk Jay Coen Gilber on better business and B Corps 2010 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGnz-w9p5FU
- BCorporation.net: Why B Corps Matter: http://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps/why-b-corps-matter
- CNNMoney: How Etsy’s IPO could Save Cities: http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/11/smallbusiness/etsy-b-corporation-ipo/
- Venture Beat: How Etsy stacks up to other New York IPOs: http://venturebeat.com/2015/03/07/this-is-how-etsy-stacks-up-against-1999-nyc-tech-ipos/
- Law360: The Ins and Outs of Benefit Corporations http://www.law360.com/articles/622231/the-ins-and-outs-of-benefit-corporations
- Kellnan Elliot-McCrae, CTO of Etsy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellanem
- Stewart Butterfield of Victoria, co-Founder of Flikr: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stewart_Butterfield
- Caterina Fake of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former Chairman of the Board of Etsy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caterina_Fake
- Etsy’s S-1 Filing with the USA’s SEC at sec.gov – 04 March 2015: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1370637/000119312515077045/d806992ds1.htm
- Rally Software (B-Corp) to benefit non-profits: http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/boosters_bits/2013/09/rally-software-ipo-to-benefit-nonprofits.html?page=all
- Jenna Lee artist: http://jennalee.co/
- Sooke Regional Chamber of Commerce: http://sookeregionchamber.com/
- Pioneer Filmworks: https://www.facebook.com/pioneerfilmworksbc