As a high—school dropout who had gone on to attend half a dozen colleges before finally emerging from New York University with a major in the classics, Rob Kalin seemed to have few–if any–of the ingredients for entrepreneurial success.
Instead, at the age of 25 he was just another aspiring furniture designer, working out of a cramped Brooklyn apartment and hoping to scratch out a living selling his stuff online. When hours of surfing for a site that would allow him to do just that got him nowhere, Mr. Kalin had his epiphany.
He had a vision of an almost Utopian place where people could purchase handcrafted items online directly from producers like himself, and where those artisans could share their business and aesthetic challenges and solutions with each other online and off.
“I wanted to create a marketplace community,” says Mr. Kalin.