Starting today, Etsy sellers will have a new way to raise money without leaving the site. It's called Fund on Etsy, a crowdfunding platform that will let Etsy sellers raise money through Kickstarter-style preorders. Like most crowdfunding sites, funds will only be moved over once a campaign reaches its goal, and the timeline for fulfilling preorders is open-ended, giving sellers significantly more leeway than traditional retail cycles. Fund on Etsy is starting as a pilot program, running only within the US from June 16th to August 16th, but it could easily be expanded if it proves popular with Etsy's users.
It's part of a number of recent efforts to expand Etsy's offerings, including programs that simplify shipping or connect sellers to conventional retail channels. In this case, the company hopes crowdfunding will help sellers grow businesses faster within the site. "We’ve consistently heard from Etsy sellers that one of the biggest barriers to their growth is lack of funds," the company said in a statement, "We believe that crowdfunding on Etsy is a natural way for sellers to harness the collective power of their existing communities and customer base."
It also fits with Etsy's corporate goals, as the company looks to maintain revenue growth after going public earlier this year. Industry experts predict global crowdfunding to reach $35 billion in 2015, making it an attractive proposition for companies like Etsy. It also plays on some of the technology the company already has. Etsy acquired the indie electronics site Grand Street in 2014, which had built a similar crowdfund-to-retail marketplace shortly before the deal was announced.