Faire: Empowering Entrepreneurs to Chase Their Dreams
"The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want," as said by Sam Walton.
But selling brands to local retailers without help is frustrating, or it used to be. In 2017, a group of five people came up with a groundbreaking idea - to launch an online wholesale marketplace that can connect independent artisans and brands with local retailers.
So, Walton built Walmart and became a successful businessman, while the squad of 4 created Faire, helping everyone become successful retailers.
The company that would be later known as Faire turned out to be the first-of-its-kind Internet wholesale marketplace. The founders created an ideal place for small businesses to buy the latest merchandise and do a ‘test-drive’ before spending a cent on it.
This is the story of Faire and its founders, Max Rhodes, Marcelo Cortes, Daniele Perito, and Jeffrey Kolovson, and their journey from the bottom to the top.
Gathering the Perfect Squad
The mastermind behind Faire is Max Rhodes, born on the 10th of October, 1985. Max was born and raised in Norman, a city in Oklahoma, and he graduated from Norman High School in 2004.
Max’s first major employment was at Square, a merchant solution and a mobile payment platform, in the same department where Marcelo, Daniele, and Jeffrey worked.
Marcelo Cortes has been passionate about computers and coding since a young age. By 13, he was considered a resident computer expert after his parents bought him a system for their business in Brazil.
In the next decade, Marcelo decided to study the new field of Information Technology throughout high school and college. When he was 20, Marcelo moved to Canada and enrolled at the University of Waterloo.
Daniele Perito graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011 while studying his first years in Rome, Italy. Before Daniele was included in the Faire team, he worked at Risk and Security at Square Cash, where he developed the anti-abuse and anti-fraud systems still used at Square today. Daniele was recruited to the team due to his Ph.D. in computer science, focusing on machine learning and security.
Jeffrey Kolovson is the last group member, having worked in a few other positions before Square. Jeffrey was a management consultant with other group members at Square but was eager to start something of its own. One day, he met with the group and decided to make ‘that’ move.
Lauren Cooks Levitan is the only one not that hasn’t been part of the story from its inception. However, with her experience and Stanford degree, she plays a massive role in Faire today, being a Chief Financial Officer.
Step by Step to Greatness
Launching a start-up is never easy, but it’s not impossible with the right people around you. When the group decided it was time to leave Square, even their superior backed up their idea to start something on their own.
Max realized the power of technology could improve people’s lives, especially small businesses. Throughout the years, the team learned a lot from the co-founder of Square, who taught them how to run a company, should they have their own one day.
Although the squad worked at the same company, they all handled different departments, which was the critical component for Faire, having people from multiple spheres of technology.
Jeff was the leading operator; Max understood the ins and outs of getting a product from development to customers, while Daniele was a skilled engineer, a professional in the field of risk and security.
Saving what money they could from working at Square, they started brainstorming a few ideas on what they should work on. The first idea was to launch a car insurance company, but after short consultations, they decided that no one was passionate about that idea, so it went down the drain.
The idea of Faire was born when the partners realized they had trouble selling a high-end umbrella because they couldn’t get the product into retail stores.
Not Their First Rodeo
The partners faced many challenges while working together at Square, so they thought building something new from scratch would be a walk in the park - yet it wasn’t.
Analyzing their struggle to send the high-end umbrella to retail stores, the partners saw the immediate need for a more streamlined and small-business-oriented wholesale marketplace.
All of them knew that they were solving a huge problem that they understood deeply, so the first obstacle was gone - they were going to release a wholesale online marketplace for small businesses.
As soon as the founders came up with the idea, they began working on it full-time. Since Faire’s inception, investors had seen the platform's potential, and they couldn't be more right. The team's first investment was $550,000 from SV Angel, Y Combinator, and Khosla Ventures. This financial boost made the platform's development faster than anyone expected.
Once everything was ready, the team published the first version of Faire. Knowing that small businesses have problems getting their hands on high-quality merchandise, they had no choice but to try out Faire.
The team knew that something special was brewing, and just like that, many small business ventures became their first users and customers. The issue of bringing a product to a retail store seemed to be resolved.
The next step was to decide how to make money. Max, Marcelo, Danielle, and Jeff decided to make a 25% commission on customer sales and 15% on repeat orders.
Faire is Live!
It is 2016, and Faire is more than ready to launch in its full glow. Once people started using Faire, the company and the founders alike received many positive ratings and feedback from the users.
One of the struggles that came up after the release was the request for product returns, which wasn’t easy to implement. To overcome this obstacle, the founders added the option for retailers to try out the new merchandise utterly free of charge.
In November of 2017, investors from Sequoia Capital invested $3.4 million into the company. Max and the others were amazed by the deal they’d struck, so it was time for Faire to evolve. The first goal for the team was to establish Faire and overtake the US market, a dream that seemed to stand on solid grounds.
In the following years, all team members worked over the cloak to make Faire the ideal place for small businesses and their connection to retailers. Once Faire reached its peak in the States, the team sat down to discuss the future.
As of 2022, the founders are yet to decide if Faire should go public, despite the enormous worth of the company. Seeing a chance to expand their operations and triple the value, they decided to hit the European market.
What Does Faire’s Future Hold
Faire works with over 500,000 retailers and 70,000 brands across North America and Europe. The company now counts around 1,2150 employees, and the current plans are to add 100 more in the following year.
Faire founders are now focused on taking over the European market and helping other small businesses to connect and buy premium-quality merchandise.
The current value of Faire is estimated at around $12.6 billion and has enough resources and finances to grow exponentially - it started from zero and went to a billion!
Faire was built upon the idea that the future of retail is local, but Farie’s future is global!