With guests from established enterprise companies to start-ups barely out of infancy to everyone in between - you’ll get the inside scoop on what’s Up Next in Commerce. New episodes come out every Tuesday and Thursday.

Subscribe to get notified of new episodes and our Up Next in Commerce weekly newsletter. 

EPISODE 37

Re-inventing a brand and turning engagement into transactions with Fancy.com CEO, Greg Spillane

With Greg Spillane, the CEO of Fancy.com

Or listen in your favorite podcast app

Apple Podcasts  /  Google Podcasts Spotify

One of the most vexing questions brands are asking themselves today is how to get a solid ROI from influencer marketing. At Fancy.com, Greg Spillane thinks he has the answer. 

When Greg came on as the CEO of Fancy in 2019, he was tasked with re-inventing and rebuilding the brand. Known as the “turnaround guy,” he had experience coming into distressed companies and pivoting them into viable businesses. Fancy was right up his alley. The company was known for lavish parties, and even handing out $1,000 gift cards to celebrities, models, and influencers. After Fancy blew through $100M in investment money, and with no profit in sight, Greg knew there was work to be done. With a new focus on profitability, and building on the impressive technology that Fancy created, Greg figured out a model that created a win-win opportunity for brands and influencers.

On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Greg discusses how he approached his role when he was brought in to turn around this struggling brand. He details the influencer, channel and email strategies he’s implementing to turn engagement into transactions. Plus, he talks about how to build a sustainable company, the things to consider when building out a board or taking on investment money, and his thoughts on when building an app is beneficial or just a distraction.

Main Takeaways:

  • Influencing the Influencer Market Most companies have yet to figure out how to geta solid ROI from utilizing influencers. Tune in to hear how Fancy is creating a mutually beneficial relationship by providing a platform that allows both the influencer and the brand to grow and monetize their user bases.
  • Do You Really Need An App?  When store owners start to have success, many begin to think about that next platform and are eager to jump into building their own app. But Spillane says this may not be the best move for many brands. Before diving into the world of apps, think about what will be different about the app versus the desktop. If the answer is nothing, then you will probably be just fine with a mobile responsive website instead.  
  • Building a Viable Business    When taking over as CEO at Fancy, Greg had to re-invent and re-build the business from the ground up and turn the focus toward profitability. Having open and honest communication with the team is crucial during these pivotal times.
  • New CEO? Take it Slow — Oftentimes, new CEOs come into a company and try to do too much too soon. Instead, spend the first 90 days listening, getting buy-in, and letting the problems — and many times the solutions — reveal themselves.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“The traditional influencer model of, ‘Hey, let me find a micro-influencer. Let me pay him X amount of money, depending on their size. And let me have them do a post talking about our product or driving people to our site.’ The experience that we’ve had ourselves and then with brands that we’ve worked with is, you’re really not going to get an ROI there….So we’re looking at it a little bit differently. We want to create more of a platform that influencers can leverage and become a little bit more native in what they’re doing that helps them expand their own reach, expand the value to their user base. And then ultimately monetize that user base, because that’s really what the influencers, especially micro-influencers are looking to do. But it has to be done somewhat organically.”

[When coming in as a new CEO]: “What not to do is go in and start making changes too quickly. One of the easiest things in the world to do is be a critic. And you can go into a company that’s somewhat distressed or has had some issues, and you could just start just tearing things apart. … And even though you can quickly come up with the right direction and the right solution for what you need to do, you can lose your people. And ultimately, your people are the most important assets you have…. Most of the issues that you’re going to eventually have to address, [employees] already know they exist and they know what they are. So let them tell you, and you’ll start to pull out the solutions..”

“Where we’re moving toward as a company is to this concept of the rise to the direct consumer brand. We just see so many amazing purpose-driven brands. And I think that’s the key. We know consumers are attracted to those brands and purpose-driven brands. Brands that have a story. Brands that potentially have a charitable aspect or a self-sustainable aspect. And those are the types of products that they want to find. They want to cut through the clutter.”

“On the brand side, customer acquisition is really difficult, and platforms like Instagram and Google are really saturated. That’s one of the main channels that people have now to reach out to their consumers. Everyone’s talking about influencers and how they can leverage influence more effectively. But I don’t think anybody’s really cracked that code really well.”

“We have a huge audience and we spend a lot of time trying to build up the products and the brands that we feature. And we come up with a fair and equitable revenue split. And we reach out to the audience. People come to us to find these brands that have been curated and it doesn’t cost anything to be on our platform for the brands. So [brands are] guaranteed to make money when we sell products. And we’re going to continue to build on that thesis.”

“What you really want from a board is a group of people that are willing to get involved and make introductions and are actually taking an interest and listening to what you’re doing and provide you with valuable advice and help you answer difficult questions.”

“For us, the more the experience gets better, the more sticky it is, the more people want to open up the Fancy app and just enter into that sort of social commerce world, the more people who are eventually going to transact.”

Mentions:

Bio:

Greg Spillane is CEO of Fancy.com. After Greg came on as CEO, Fancy.com’s average order size increased by 50%. Now, Fancy.com boasts 35k new app downloads per month and more than one million active users. Prior to his work at Fancy, Greg was the Chief Operating Officer of Events.com and the Chief Operating Officer of Granicus. He was also the Founder and CEO of Spicore Interactive, which was acquired in 2006.

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Perfect. Welcome back to another episode of Up Next in Commerce. This is your host, Stephanie Postles, co-founder of Mission.org. Today we’re chatting with Greg Spillane, CEO of Fancy.com. Greg, welcome.

Greg:

Thank you, Stephanie. I’m so excited to be here and speaking with you.

Stephanie:

I know. I’m really excited to have you on. I was going through Fancy.com before this, and I think I’ve found at least three things that I want to order after the show that I actually have not seen anywhere else. One was an air plant that was on top of an amethyst crystal. I haven’t seen that. And the other one was like a chilling beer mug. It looked Awesome. So that’s where my mind’s at right now. Air plants and beer mugs.

Greg:

Well, perfect. I’ll tell you what, I’ll hook you up with a solid discount code and even something you can send out to your audience.

Stephanie:

Oh, I like it. This interview is already going great.

Greg:

Yes.

Stephanie:

So, you have such an interesting story. Fancy is a really good story. I was hoping actually, we can just start and dive right in about what is your role and how did you come to Fancy? And what is Fancy.com?

Greg:

Sure. Yeah. My background is I guess, little atypical. I mean, I came out of school really as an athlete. I attended undergrad on a football scholarship. So I was a little bit of a meathead type of guy earlier in my life. And was introduced to the internet and really computers really early on. I was one of those guys that had a computer when I was 10 years old, connecting with my 2,400 baud modem to BBST, doing all those types of things. So that’s schools, technology is where I studied, I got out. I started my career as an engineer. I quickly realized coding all day is just not for me. And that’s kind of where my entrepreneurial journey started. I actually founded an agency.

Greg:

We were doing customer development for people. A lot of digital transformation stuff really early and sort of the internet booms like early 2000s and built a couple of different products sort of just for happenstance. And I took them to market in a subscription-based model. Well, before SaaS was really even a term. And had some success and had an opportunity to sell that company. So that was great. I decided to go back to business school at that point. And then really spent the better part of the next eight years or so in kind of the management consulting world specific around technology, sort of like big Fortune 100 type of systems implementations, et cetera. And great cushy, all that stuff, like good pay. But I just, I didn’t want to be like sort of a cog in a giant wheel.

Greg:

So a business school colleague of mine had just taken over this company based out of San Diego, was founded by a guy who had already had a billion dollar exit. It’s kind of more of an incubator of sorts. Was like four or five companies that had come together and he was asked to run it. And he was looking for a guy who had sort of a tech marketing business development background. And brought me in and I left sort of the cushy corporate world to get back into the crazy world of entrepreneurship. Led that company through a pivot. We ended up eventually rebranding as Events.com. We spun off one of our divisions and sold it to private equity. And it was a nice little ride. And that gentleman ended up moving back into the private equity world and opened up a firm in a venture front and would invest in a number of different companies.

Greg:

And somehow I became like this turnaround guy that he would bring me in to these companies that had all this potential that they invested in, but for one reason or another was somewhat distressed. And that’s ultimately how I got introduced to Fancy. He came in, they sit on the board of directors here, they invested in the company in late 2018 and there were some things that needed to be changed. Obviously, Fancy has been a company, been around for a really long time. So I was brought in, made the CEO in March of 2019. But a little bit more about Fancy, the company itself was founded in 2010, tremendous amount of early success. I think we’re talking about people like Jack Dorsey was on the board of directors early on. Even today our board of directors is sort of a who’s who of people.

Greg:

But our company had over 12 million users since our inception. Really found it as more of a social network, Pinterest of sorts. A place to really kind of find and share just really cool and interesting and unique products. And then there was a natural evolution into commerce. And we’ve had a lot of highs. And the company never had an issue with users or experience, it was really around profitability and finding a way to make this into a viable business model. So we did end up having a situation where there’s a couple of insolvency moments which ultimately led to the transition. But I’ve come in and there’s still such a great userbase and foundation in here. And we’ve sort of been pivoting the company and turning things back around. It’s been a fun little ride so far. We’re really excited about the future.

Stephanie:

That’s great. So when thinking about coming in and turning around companies, either at Fancy.com or just holistically from like a higher level of what you’ve done in your past, what is the first maybe 90 days look like when you are looking at a company and figuring out how you want to change it and what’s going wrong?

Greg:

Yeah. Good question. So having done this a handful of times now, I can tell you that I made a lot of mistakes the first couple of times doing it. And I think that it really prepared me for the role I took on at Fancy. I’ll tell you what not to do. First, what not to do is go in and start making changes too quickly. To go in and sort of like point out every mistake that the company’s ever made. One of the easiest things in the world to do is be a critic. And you can go into a company that’s somewhat distressed or has had some issues, and you could just start just tearing things apart. Whose decision was this? Why are we doing this? This doesn’t make sense. And even though you can quickly come up with the right direction and the right solution for what you need to do, you can lose your people.

Greg:

And ultimately, your people are the most important assets you have in many cases. So what you do need to do when you go into a company and you want to turn around, and I think it’s something that I was able to do at Fancy even though there were a lot of tough decisions and tough changes, is get the buy-in from your team. A lot of times you do that by just listening and just acknowledging all the great things that they’ve done in the past. And truthfully, most of the issues that you’re going to eventually have to address, they already know they exist and they know what they are. So let them tell you, and you’ll start to kind of pull out the solutions. Then when you have to make those really difficult changes that impact people’s lives and careers and whatever it may be, the people that you need and people that you keep are on board because they see the rationale and they understand it. And a lot of ways, they’re the ones that have kind of helped you, guide you.

Greg:

So I guess just to summarize that, the one thing that I’ve learned over time and that I don’t think I did really early on in my career is to just take super account of the people and the human aspect of what they’re going through and being a new person coming into an established company and having to make change, but doing it in a way that keeps them engaged and let them believe in you and want to continue to be part of the company.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. So when it comes to Fancy.com, it seemed like before you, it was a pretty fancy environment. Like maybe really nice parties and things like that. Did you have any struggles maybe when it came to convincing the employees like we can’t keep doing that? Because many employees are probably like, “I’m used to this and I’m very used to going here and interacting with these people and having this kind of swag.” I don’t know if that’s the case for Fancy.com, but did you encounter any of that pushback when you were kind of evolving the environment to focus on profitability?

Greg:

Yeah. I did. Funny story, at least I think it’s funny. We had the storage unit in Manhattan. And I went into it one day and just a bunch of old fancy stuff, swag and different products, people incentives for revaluation. There are just box. And I open up this box and it’s got these thick, like metal credit cards. They’re the size of credit cards, but they’re kind of like solid steel. And it’s like, “Thank you for visiting Fancy. We value you. Here’s a $1,000 gift credit to use at Fancy, coupon code.” And there are like-

Stephanie:

Oh my gosh.

Greg:

… Hundreds of these things. I mean like a stack, like a box full of them, probably even had thousands of them.

Stephanie:

Oh my gosh.

Greg:

I’m like, “What is this?” I go, “We were just giving away, like handing out $1,000 gift cards?” And so I went back to the team uptown. And the founders apparently would go to these parties in New York City and they would have models and celebrities and hip hop artists and athletes and et cetera. And they would just walk around the party just kind of talking and they would just give these $1,000 gift cards away to people.

Stephanie:

Wow. That’s super fancy.

Greg:

That is super fancy. Right. Right. That’s how you go through $120 million in capital in a period of time.

Stephanie:

Is that what you encountered when you came in? It was like $120 million of capital was kind of spent maybe in not the best ways and you had to kind of get out of the hole?

Greg:

Well, yes and no. So the positive, and this is what really is I think exciting about the opportunity and one of the reasons why I decided to pretty much route my life and spend the last, however many months in New York. I’d been a Southern California guy, is, yes, that a lot of money went to waste. And there was a lot of money spent on parties and those types of things. But along the way, they built an amazing technology platform. So Fancy is all proprietary and really the underlying technology that’s built upon… The mobile app that we have is really rock solid. I’m in technology. And I’ve been in technology throughout my life and our mobile app, we have, I think today like give or take like 2.7 million active installs of the Fancy app, iOS, Android.

Stephanie:

Wow.

Greg:

Fancy.com domain name, the site itself is generating however many hundreds of thousands of unique visitors a month just to sort of organic and SEO. Our dataset, we’ve had over 12 million Fancy accounts created. We’ve done several million transactions. We’re working with however many merchants, some 800 merchants. We’re a global company. Last year alone, we sold a product to 135 countries. So there was this asset pool that was built with that money that went out that as a startup you would just never be able to replicate. You just couldn’t do those things if you were starting from scratch.

Greg:

But then because of some of the shortfalls of the company, and this is more from a business perspective, the current valuation and as we’ve raised last money, I mean, we’re just closing out a small little bridge note right now and a $12 million valuation, which is insane. I mean, the intrinsic value of our assets far exceeds that number, but because of the situation that’s where we’re at. So I look at it as a huge opportunity and an amazing asset pool that we sit on. But short answer to your question is there was a lot of money spent on parties that like Tiësto was deejaying at. They had no business rationale really other than just getting the Fancy brand out.

Stephanie:

Oh my gosh. I mean, I kind of wish I was at that party, but I don’t know if I want to be an investor in that company per se or the CEO at that time. So that sounds like a big turnaround project. Maybe to talk a little bit about Fancy, so there’s a lot of products on there, a lot of really cool products, was there any business decisions around product selection or how to curate them or personalize things or around like sourcing new products that you’re implementing right now to maybe make the user experience better and to not show thousands of products at once and more personalize it to the people when they’re coming onto the website?

Greg:

Yeah. Really kind of all those things in some way or another. And it’s still a work in progress. And we’re implementing, actually we partnered with a great company, is actually a portfolio company of Raptor which is the investment firm behind Fancy right now called Luminoso.

Greg:

And they have a bunch of amazing AI technology, machine learning technology that’s being implemented in everything from search to recommendation. Sort of a lot in the social aspects we have in our site how we’re going to be able to better make recommendations and curate products more effectively. So like all of that stuff has been unchanged. We did a significant culling of the amount of products that we were on our site when I came on board. I think it was, actually like 400,000 products that were live.

Stephanie:

Wow.

Greg:

It just didn’t really make sense. Like you can’t be a curated marketplace or a highly curated marketplace with that many products available. We were much more open earlier on in regards to who we would let come sell on our site. And what that did is, there were some quality issues in regards to who that merchant was and whether they were fulfilling, and is the product really what they said that it was? So we’ve moved much more towards like a closed marketplace. We do have an internal brand development curation team who thoroughly vets all of the sellers on our site.

Greg:

And our philosophy, where we’re moving towards as a company is this concept of the rise to the direct consumer brand. We just see so many amazing purpose-driven brands. And I think that’s the key. Like Amazon has almost been a victim of their own success fulfilled by Amazon and Alibaba and all these different people who are just trying to source product and get in on Amazon and sort of like tweak with the algorithms. Getting like commoditized products that there’s not really a brand behind it. A lot of these people, these entrepreneurs who are selling these products never even take possession of the product. They’re not designing the products. They’re just sourcing them and trying to sell them.

Greg:

And we’re trying to be the anti-Amazon in that regard. So we want to work with the, sort of like the Allbirds of the world before they are the Allbirds. And get those products on. And we look at it as a huge win-win because we know consumers are attracted to those brands and purpose-driven brands. Brands that have a story. Brands that potentially have a charitable aspect or a self-sustainable aspect. And those are the type of products that they want to find. They want to cut through the clutter. I mean, there’re sites out there that have this stuff. I mean, you go to Etsy, you’re talking millions of products. And it’s like, how do you find these products? How do you get through some of the other junk that’s out there?

Greg:

And then on the brand side, customer acquisition is really difficult and platforms like Instagram and Google are really saturated. That’s one of the main channels that people have now to reach out to their consumers. Everyone’s talking about influencers and how they can leverage influence more effectively. But I don’t think anybody’s really cracked that code really well. So we have a huge audience and we spend a lot of time trying to build up the products, the brands that we feature. And we come up with a fair and equitable revenue split. And we reach out to the audience. People come to us to find these brands that have been curated and it doesn’t cost anything to be on our platform for the brands. So they’re guaranteed to make money when we sell products. And we’re going to continue to build on that thesis.

Stephanie:

I love that. So maybe to zoom in a bit on the customer acquisition piece, you’re talking about Facebook and Google, they’re getting pretty saturated and pretty expensive. What channels are you guys finding success in right now to bring customers to these new brands and products?

Greg:

Yeah. It’s a great question. So we’re really lucky because we really, since I’ve been here, have not spent a ton of money on having to do sort of paid ads. I mean, we do a little bit here and there and we handle retargeting and that type of stuff, but we have a tremendous amount of organic traffic that just finds us. We’re a well optimizer, very high search engine authority. So a lot of people come upon Fancy.com and naturally go there. We also have a mobile app that has a very different shopping experience. It feels much more like a social shopping experience where there’s dynamic feed of products and people can like and share and then recommendations are made by what they like.

Greg:

So we do, do some advertising in regards to getting people to download our app. We found that we have a really high lifetime value for people who have downloaded our app. I think right now our average user opens the app like 5.4 times a month or something like that. So it’s relatively sticky. We’re working on conversions and optimize the conversion rates on that. Because of the social aspect, those are lower than some more traditional Ecommerce. But the area that we’re really focused on and really growing is to continue to build upon our influencer model, our affiliate model and partnering with micro-influencers. The technology is on our site in which they help sort of guest curate.

Greg:

And this is going to be a big part of our upcoming release, guest curate, different selections of products whether it’s for home decor, or whether it’s fashion-based, whatever it is, with the idea of, we’re creating a great experience for our userbase. But then we want to help sort of build their own personal brand with the idea that there’s a quid pro quo. We pay them a percentage of sales and we can attribute when they’ve driven traffic to the site or anything that’s been sold which provides an incentive for them to share and drive people to the Fancy platform and then vice versa. Obviously, we’re providing them with an avenue to create more exposure for themselves. Because if it’s not being hidden, we want people to know who this particular curator or influencer or thought leader in the space is.

Stephanie:

Cool. I love that. So it’s a good segue into influencers because we’ve had a lot of people in our audience ask about that and wonder how to even… Like, “Is it successful working with influencers? How do you go about engaging with them?” So what does maybe the back-end look like for Fancy when it comes to building up this influencer network and what kind of success are you seeing? And how would you maybe advise a smaller brand to start this, if you think they should?

Greg:

Yeah. The influencer models can be tough. And it’s definitely something we talk a lot about. We’ve been toying around, we’ve done a lot of user research and space. What I would say is the traditional influencer model of, “Hey, let me find a micro-influencer. Let me pay him X amount of money, depending on their size. And let me have them do a post talking about our product or driving people to our site.” The experience that we’ve had ourselves and then with brands that we’ve worked with is, you’re really not going to get an ROI there. It’s doesn’t necessarily pencil. At least that’s what we’ve seen. I’m sure there’s some people out there that have been able to figure that out.

Greg:

So we’re looking at it a little bit differently. At least our approach to it is, we want to create more of a platform that influencers can leverage and become a little bit more native in what they’re doing that helps them expand their own reach, expand the value to their userbase. And then ultimately monetize that userbase because that’s really what the influencers, especially micro-influencers are looking to do. But it has to be done somewhat organically, at least from what I’ve seen. And if it’s just a matter of paying an influencer, because you want them to use your product or post your product or tag you in something like that, I don’t know. I have not personally seen that ROI. I think it takes a lot of time and patience. I’ve seen some companies, some of the brands that you’ve talked to that have tried it. They’ve kind of given up after a couple months of doing it because they just haven’t seen the return that they’ve wanted.

Greg:

So I think that, that’s kind of one component of it. I think it can be kind of difficult to go that route. From my experience, some of the influence could be a little bit difficult to work with but not all of them. So we kind of pick and choose. We do a lot of reach out through our own Instagram account. We have about 350,000 followers. So that helps and it gives us some legitimacy. We’re usually able to engage and we got some great people who follow us on Instagram. And that’s another big advantage as well. So that’s typically where we open up discussions. And then we try as much as possible to look at it from a pure win-win perspective. And we want to be a technology company. So we want to be able to provide them with more of a platform that sort of ties into what they’re already doing and allows them to effectively monetize their audience to try to do it as authentically as possible.

Stephanie:

Yep. So how are you building a platform? I’m trying to imagine what that would look like from the influencers’ perspective. Like, is it just a platform based around Fancy products? Or is it kind of separate where it’s a platform for their them to influence but other products can be there as well? Or how do I think about that?

Greg:

So the way the platform currently works right now is we can create a profile on Fancy for a particular influencer which they can curate their own lists, different groupings of different products, et cetera, that they like. So what we bring to the table is, a, we bring in the fulfillment infrastructure. We have the relationships with all the different brands. They’ve already been vetted. We handle all fulfillment. We handle all shipping. We handle all payment processing. We handle all fraud detection, returns, customer support, et cetera, et cetera. And then what we can do with them is we can give them the ability to go on Fancy, create a profile. It can be done honestly, and we have done it in more of a white-labeled capacity in the past, where it looks almost like their own personal website, their own storefront in which they’re able to pick sort of unique and interesting products and kind of populate it.

Greg:

But in a lot of cases, it’s done more of in like a traditional profile on our site. And then we have attribution on that. So it works in more of an affiliate model from, any traffic or any users they drag to our site we can track it and ultimately we can pay them per the performance of what they’ve done. And then, I think what makes us interesting versus like, let’s say in Amazon who does some affiliate type of stuff is we do have a little bit more of an authentic kind of lifestyle brand through Fancy and a little bit more legitimacy with kind of being cool and sort of having new, initially unique stuff versus Amazon, which is great for commoditized products, but isn’t necessarily where you want to buy your fashion from.

Greg:

So that lifestyle brand plus the uniqueness of our products, it’s something that a lot of times their users and micro-influencer and influencer working with the type of imagery we use, et cetera, is typically more engaging and more in line with what they’re trying to accomplish with their own profile anyways.

Stephanie:

Got it. Yeah. That’s really interesting thinking. It’s probably easier than for a brand to just work with you guys to then get access to that influencer network and hopefully be chosen to be on one of those lists or whatnot.

Greg:

Yeah. It’s funny you say that. That’s something that we have, as a company have done in the past and have done pretty successfully. When I came in, I really wanted to simplify our business model and I wanted to kind of bring out all these sort of different one-off type of deals, but we’ve had a lot of brands, like big brands. I mean, like global brands that have come to us and have paid us six figures to connect them with users on our site or influencers on our site in kind of joint marketing efforts. You mentioned T-Pain. And you saw that T-Pain-

Stephanie:

Yeah. I saw he was called the VP of, I think product testing, but VP had quotes around it.

Greg:

Yeah. So like, he did a big thing with us, Purple mattresses. You’ve probably heard of Purple. Purple community was however many, a couple of years ago, we did an entire… We sort of middled an entire campaign with T-Pain. And T-Pain did a bunch of different videos and interesting kind of things. It’s created a bunch of content for Purple mattresses that of course was featured on Fancy, but then Purple was taking this content and they were repurposing it for their own purposes.

Greg:

So there are opportunities there. Like I said, it’s a little bit of when you come into a company and you’re running the turnarounds, you’ve got to kind of cut. You got to like really focus. So I’m really, I’m trying to focus on just creating a great user experience trading win-win with our merchants and the different brands that we’re partnering with. And then do the best that we can in order to help that experience for our consumers be a better experience by bringing in influencers or people who can really create interesting collections of products that we think ultimately people like yourself, the consumers the world will find value in.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s awesome. So when talking about building a company now, and we’ve been talking quite a bit about around, like the turnaround story and how to rebuild it, one thing I have not touched on that I think it would be great too is developing a board of directors. So a lot of brands right now, if they’re thinking about raising money and of course, like the board of directors question always comes up of like, “Who do you want on your board?” And I was hoping you could kind of touch on your guys’ board of directors and what’s helpful? What’s that? Like, how should someone think about having a board and putting that together?

Greg:

That’s a great question. Obviously, you want a board of directors that’s going to be supportive of you. You want a board of directors that’s going to be helpful, right?

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg:

That has connections. That’s going to be involved. I’ve had boards where it’s like all they want is reporting, reporting, reporting, which you’re going to provide anyways. I mean, you, of course are providing your reporting to your board. But it’s like a really effective board isn’t necessarily a babysitter of the money or whatever that’s been invested. And just kind of like that. I mean, that’s helpful. I guess it helps keep you accountable. But what you really want from a board is a group of people that are willing to get involved and make introductions and are actually taking an interest and listening to what you’re doing and provide you with valuable advice and help you answer difficult questions.

Greg:

And a lot of times you don’t get that with your board, especially if you get kind of a fund that comes in and maybe you get someone on the board. It’s a board, so you can take over. And you’re a part of 100 portfolio companies and they’re not even really paying attention. They don’t really know what you’re doing. They don’t know your industry, et cetera. I’ve been really lucky here at Fancy. We have a small board. It’s only four of us, well, were five of us, including myself. The chairman of our board is Jim Pallotta. Jim Pallotta is the owner of Boston Celtics. Just actually recently sold A.S. Roma, which is the Rome Premier League soccer team. He’s a billionaire. Extremely accomplished investor based out of Boston. Super well connected. And is just sharp as a tack.

Greg:

And he’s involved just enough. Like the perfect amount. Like wants to make introductions, wants to makes his connections. Has just an amazing Rolodex and he is willing to open his Rolodex at anytime to make a connection for the company. And then we have François Pinault who’s basically the chairman of Kering. He’s married to Selma Hayek. You might know him. He’s the guy who donated like $300 million to the Notre Dame when it burnt down, [inaudible 00:30:38]. And so they own Gucci and lots of gallery, like one of the largest luxury houses in the world. So once again, extremely well connected credibility across the board. When you’re talking to brands, we’re trying to bring on direct to consumer brands. And one of the largest shareholders of this company and board members say owns Gucci, that goes a long way.

Greg:

So I’m really lucky, very supportive. There are people who have brought more to the table than just money. Really an active interest in the company and making those things. As far as building your own board, look, a lot of times your board members are going to be your biggest investors and you go out and raise capital and unless you’ve got an amazing idea or you just really doing something special, as much as you want to say you can go out there and pick your investors, that’s a lie. So someone’s going to write a cheque and you’re trying to raise capital, in many cases, you’re going to take that capital. And along with that capital comes board seats. So you don’t always have the control that you would like in that situation, but if you do have the ability to pick your board, I think you can pick your advisors a little bit more easily. But you want people who are going to be more than capital to the table. You want people who are going to get actively and involved and they’re not afraid to open up the Rolodex and make connections.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I completely agree. It’s something you see at least here in Silicon Valley. Sometimes people are excited maybe about really big brand name, investment firms or large amounts of money. And I’ve always asked the question of like, “Well, how can they actually help you? Like, can they spend time with you? Can they actually give you introductions? Are they willing to do that?” I think not for certain. At least I’ve heard certain investment firms, once you get to a certain level, they’re not going to spend time with you unless they invest a very large amount of money and they have a lot of skin in the game. And outside of that, it might actually be better to work with someone who’s in your industry, knows it, can introduce you to people. So, I completely agree. The same thing with building a board or thinking about that. You might not always have the options to do so, but if you do, choose someone who can actually help you and spend time with you.

Greg:

That’s exactly right.

Stephanie:

So earlier we were talking about, you guys have an app and your desktop version, how did you go about thinking about building out an app? You said it had a different user experience and buying experience and a lot more of a social aspect there. Like how do you think a brand should think about like, “Should I have an app?” Because I think at one point, every brand probably considers building their own app along with their desktop version.

Greg:

Yeah. No, absolutely. You know what’s funny? Or whatever. Six, seven, eight years ago when these were the app… It got super hot and everybody wanted to build an app. Things were different. And sort of like the technology, especially just around mobile responsive websites was different. And to get a really good mobile experience in a lot of cases it helped have a native mobile app. You were able to tap into so many functions or features that weren’t necessarily available with mobile web. But what we see today and where we sit and the kind of conversations we have in our product meeting is, we have a great mobile responsive platform. The mobile experience on Fancy.com is really good in our opinion, or it’s as good as you would need it to be, is as good as all the other products that are out there.

Greg:

So for us to replicate our mobile web experience on app, just to have a couple of different features that you get with native didn’t necessarily make sense for us. So we did look at it differently. And with our mobile app, the way mobile is structured right now it’s of truly much more of a discovery-based experience. It’s the kind of experience that people open up and, “This is what our data shows and the testing that we’ve done.” People open up our app because they’re just interested to scroll through and will get really interested in cool and unique products. And we focus very heavily on using lifestyle imagery through that. And these are social aspects. People can like and they can build their lists, and they can share, and they can follow other people and they can get updates of what people who they follow or influencers that they’re following have liked other products or other products that are on lists and those types of things.

Greg:

And that would be really difficult to replicate in like a true mobile lab experience. So when we look at it and we look at our product strategy, we ultimately look at web. So Fancy.com and then our mobile experience for that is a little bit more of a traditional commerce-based experience. You go to it, you have categories, you search and find the things you like, hopefully you transact. Well, we look at mobile as much more of, sort of a stickier, joyous engagement where you just want people to kind of open it up similar to how we open up Instagram 25 times a day. Nobody opens Instagram absolutely because you want to buy anything. You’re just kind of opening it up because there’s like cool images and there’s things that you’re going to discover. And it’s going to bring kind of a little moment of joy in our lives.

Greg:

We’re sitting there in the bank and… That’s a lot of how the experience with the Fancy app has been created. Our thought is that people will discover things and they’ll find things and they’ll like things and personalization will happen through our mobile app and then many cases, they’ll end up going to web to transact.

Stephanie:

Oh, can they currently transact on the app, or is it more of a discovery platform right now that transfers over to those [crosstalk 00:36:09]?

Greg:

They can transact on the app.

Stephanie:

Okay.

Greg:

A large part of our business still occurs mobile. But definitely the experience that we want to have is… I guess that would be my big takeaway to any company out there that was considering building a native mobile app if they’re in the commerce world, is why? Like, what difference are you going to offer on mobile versus you’re going to offer on web. Because the truth of the matter is people don’t need to download another app. And if they can get everything that they need by just going to your domain name through your Google browser or whatever it is in their iPhone, then save the trouble.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. So how are you thinking about balancing the social aspect on the app? You had mentioned conversions weren’t as high as like traditional Ecommerce sites, which makes sense if people are kind of going on there just to see new things and maybe not always having an intent to buy. But how are you going about balancing that to keep people moving along and get them to check out, but also have fun and engage with other users?

Greg:

Yeah. The big thing with us right now, and big focus is around, number one, personalization. We’re doing everything we can to continue to make the experience more personal. I think that, that’s something that… There’s been kind of an area where I don’t think we’ve always done a great job on that is that, we’ve very much had a point of view that Fancy has taken in regards to kind of what we think is cool and what people who we want to think it’s cool and that kind of gets pushed out. Where I want to have a little bit more, based on your interactions, based on what you’ve liked, what you’ve shown, that I can kind of avoid showing you stuff that isn’t relevant to you.

Greg:

That’s a big component of that from that perspective. It’s a good question. We really, we’re okay with conversions being lower with the app because we also have really high engagement and repeat users. So these are people who are just opening up the app quite frequent, maybe some people open up the app on a daily basis. And those people aren’t going to buy something on a daily basis. And they’re not necessarily going to Fancy because they want to buy something, but they ultimately do buy.

Greg:

So I think for us, the more the experience gets better, the more sticky it is, the more people want to open up the Fancy app and kind of just enter into that sort of social commerce world, the more people who are eventually going to transact, even though it isn’t a straight kind of equation like on a return on ad spent, like you do with more of a traditional website. We have a particular product, somebody goes to that site because they’re looking for that product. And then, thought they converted, but they didn’t. They didn’t convert. Now we’re going to do retargeting. We’re working at it as a little bit more of an engaged experience. So it’s not a huge concern for us from that perspective.

Stephanie:

I’m guessing you would have to have a different set of metrics when it comes to, how’s the app performing versus how is desktop performing? What kind of metrics are like your go to things to check in on the health of the app versus desktop?

Greg:

Yeah. No, that’s a good question. So we track, obviously, just simple things like total sessions, users, new users, app downloads, uninstalls. My dashboard has all that information. Time on app, number of products they’ve clicked into. We do look at conversion rates across the board. How many users came in? How many times did they convert? Average order value. Standard stuff like that. But when we think about the app and the experience itself, we’re really looking at things like, how many users did we have? But how many sessions did we have? So what’s the average session per user, Because in our app experience, it is about having people come back and using the app for multiple times.

Greg:

And then when they do open up the app, how much time are they spending on a typical basis interacting with the app? What are they doing? So those are a lot of things that we look at. And then from a bigger picture, obviously, we’re not spending a ton of money trying to attract you on app downloads, like outward spending, but we still have a tremendous amount of new app downloads that happen on a pretty regular basis. So we look very closely at how many new app downloads and what our uninstall rate is.

Stephanie:

Cool. Yeah. That’s really good. Good to know. When it comes to personalization, are there any tools right now that you guys are really excited about? I know you mentioned one that was maybe within a portfolio company that you guys work with, but are there any tools that other brands should be looking into right now when it comes to personalization?

Greg:

Yeah. Right now we’re spending some time on our ESP or our email service provider. And we’re looking at a couple of different providers in that space. But that’s something where there’s some really cool providers out there that do some amazing stuff in regards to personalization around all messaging, not just email, but also push, because obviously for mobile apps. And that’s something that we’re probably going to adopt here and if not next quarter the quarter after that, and try to revamp the way we do our outbound.

Greg:

We have about a million people on our email list right now. We send out a ton of emails. I told you about, it’s like 2.7 million active installs to the app where you push notifications. And then that number is from our push notifications. So when we actually do a push notification, It’ll tell you how many we’ve delivered. So that is about 2.7. So we do a lot of outbound messaging and I think there’s a huge opportunity for us to do more personalization with that messaging.

Stephanie:

That’s great. Yeah, it’d be really cool to bring you back in a couple months after you’ve done the email stuff and talk about what you’ve seen with your app and your push notifications and kind of hear an update on all that.

Greg:

Yeah, absolutely.

Stephanie:

All right. So we can have about 10 minutes left. I feel like you’re going to have some great answers for the lightning round, so I want to make sure that we have enough time for it. So the lightning round brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I’m going to ask you a question and you have one minute or less to answer each question. You ready to go Greg?

Greg:

All right, let’s do this.

Stephanie:

All right. I’m going to start with the hardest one first because like I said, I think you’ll have a good answer. What one thing will have the biggest impact on Ecommerce in the next year?

Greg:

Oh man. Look, COVID has been terrible but unbelievable for Ecommerce. And I think that the one thing that it’s done is it just increase the adoption rate and made it gone through the roof. People like my parents who never bought anything from Amazon, never bought anything from Postmates or anything like that are now just doing it. And even as stores and retail locations of brick and mortar continue to open back up, I think the cat’s out of the box. I think the adoption rates are going to continue to rise. I think they’re just going to be many more direct consumer brands that are going to continue to come about.

Greg:

There’s going to be new technology that innovative companies out of Silicon Valley are going to come up with that are going just make the experiences better, whether you’re talking about augmented reality or different types of things. So I just think that the overall continued adoption of Ecommerce is just going to make the pie, the $7.2 trillion global retail market, the Ecommerce side of that is just going to continue to expand and grow. I don’t think, there isn’t any stopping site.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I completely agree. I love that answer. What’s up next on your reading list?

Greg:

Oh, good question. I tend to go back and forth between like more auto, biographical and then just like fiction. I’m a big Stephen King guy. I typically read all his books. I just, whatever, kind of just, moving in, in time. But right now I’m reading Eric Larson’s newest book on Churchill, Winston Churchill. And it’s really focused on 1940, 1941, in England where the Germans were just bombarding England with bombers and the US hadn’t entered the war yet. And Germany was just a powerhouse. I mean, it just looked like they were just trying to bomb them into submission and then Churchill would not submit. And we all know how that ended up turning out. But just so amazing to learn about that guy especially as kind of a CEO of a company where you’re faced with, sometimes it just feels like overwhelming odds and you have to be honest with your team and they have to realize the gravity of the situation, but at the same time motivate them and give them the confidence that you can overcome is exactly what he did. And it’s been a really good read.

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s good. I will have to check that one out. If you were to have a podcast, what would the podcast be about and who would your first guest be?

Greg:

So I’m an ex-athlete. I talked to you a little bit about that. So I was actually football player in college. I’m kind of a jock. I still like to do a whole bunch of things. And I learned so much of what I do in a professional world from my athletic career, just dealing coaches and the meritocracy involved and just working hard and showing up on time and competing every day and all those types of things. So I think what I would like to do is, I’d love to have a business focused podcast that had athletes turned business people who are able to talk about their experiences, especially guys in the NFL, experiences [inaudible] of coaches like Bill Belichick, et cetera, and how those principles are translated into the professional world.

Greg:

I mean, I think someone like a Tom Brady would be a great first guest. He started up his own, [inaudible] TB12, and he’s got kind of like a whole supplement line. I’d love to talk about how he’s translated, sort of what he’s done. Professionally he’s the greatest quarterback ever. And how he’s having success now and in a business capacity.

Stephanie:

That sounds like a really good podcast. I will find you a sponsor, Greg, and we will get that off the ground.

Greg:

Let’s do it. Right?

Stephanie:

Yeah. I like that. That’s good. All right. How do you stay on top of Ecommerce or industry trends? What kind of sources are you looking at or tools are you using or resources do you rely on to stay on top of things?

Greg:

A lot of reading. Yeah, obviously that’s the answer anybody would have. Right? But I’m just, I have a number of, sort of hashtags or subject lines that I’m following in my Flipboard account. Every morning I open it up and flipping through and seeing what other people are doing. I also like to read about some of the bigger players in the space that are public. So even following companies like Overstock.com, Wayfair, Etsy, have had tremendous growth in the last several months. I mean, I think Overstock.com stock went from like $3 a share and marched to almost $100 a share most recently. So jumping into their quarterly reports and their 10-K’s, as public companies they have to disclose everything. I love to read kind of what they’re seeing, what they’re doing, where they want to go with things. So that’s always helpful pulling a lot of ideas and insights from some of the bigger competitors in the space.

Stephanie:

That’s really good. We haven’t had anyone talk about going through their quarterly reports yet. So I love that. That’s something I enjoy doing as well, but I thought I was the only one.

Greg:

No. It’s [crosstalk 00:48:32].

Stephanie:

Well, Greg, this has been such a good interview. Like I said, we need to bring you back for round two to hear how some of these experiments are going, but where can people find out more about you and Fancy?

Greg:

Yeah. Well, obviously Fancy.com is the site. You can go into your App Store, Android Store, we’d love for you to download it. You can reach out to me directly. I literally just love people just email me. I get them all the time. So greg@fancy.com. Super easy. One G. And then, like I said, we’re raising a little bit of a round of equity right now. We’re actually doing it partially through a equity crowdfunding site called Wefunder. So anybody that’s says shouldn’t learn anymore, wefunder.com/fancy, can see a video and see T-Pain and learn a little bit more about the opportunity. I think it’s a pretty attractive investment considering where we’re at and what our opportunity is, especially the valuation of our company today.

Stephanie:

Yep. I completely agree. We will link up that video because it was pretty great. All right, Greg. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure.

Greg:

Thank you, Stephanie. Great being here.

Subscribe in your favorite podcast app.

Love this? Share it with your friends!

Facebook
Google+
Twitter
LinkedIn

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel.

Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Get exclusive updates and new episodes straight to your inbox. 

Subscribe Now To Get

– Our daily newsletter designed to increase your wealth, health, and wisdom.

– Access to exclusive giveaways from The Mission full of awesome swag and prizes.

Our Podcasts