Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, and now Subvia
When Kaitlyn Horne got word that her day job would be disappearing, she knew that things in her life were about to change drastically. The ski apparel company she’d been working at for years would be outsourcing all of its employees’ jobs and as of 2020, she and her young family would be losing a substantial amount of their income.
Luckily, Horne had a side hustle―a jewelry line that she’d been working on with her childhood friend, Keeley Wilson. “I felt so fortunate to have our little side business―Onyx and Ash―because I’d just lost my job and then COVID-19 hit, so finding a job elsewhere would have been super stressful,” she says.
In fact, Onyx and Ash’s revenue doubled in 2020, making Horne’s side hustle more valuable than her day job ever was. As it turns out, having multiple revenue streams can mean the difference between survival and destitution―especially during a downturn―but most people don’t know where to start.
Enter Subvia: a new app designed to redefine hyperlocal commerce―opportunities to buy, sell, and connect with products and services right on your own neighborhood block. After speaking with both founders, Andrew Krueger, CEO, and Matt Moody, CTO, it became clear that Subvia’s mission is more than about building a new platform: it’s about giving people an opportunity to turn their passion into a profession.
The market for homemade, hyperlocal products is growing
The very foundation of Subvia is rooted in small, community-driven interactions. During the pandemic, Krueger and Moody―who are close friends and neighbors―had a chance to connect deeply with each other to discuss what a post-pandemic economy would look like. With more time on their hands than usual, they asked themselves where economic trends were heading, and what work people would look for in the future.
Inspired by their wives’ inclination to shop for artisanal goods and services from hyperlocal platforms such as Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, and Next Door―they found themselves on the precipice of something totally novel.
“Our neighborhood has a pretty vibrant local commerce scene,” Krueger explains. “There’s a community of people providing services for each other, whether that’s a neighborhood kid or an adult in the neighborhood who has talent or people buying and selling [artisanal] goods and foods.”
That observation was something that led Krueger and Moody to a very distinct problem: individuals often want to support small businesses or side hustles in their local communities, but they don’t realize that those talents and skills are available to them because there’s no centralized platform for hyperlocal commerce.
“People often turn to a more expensive chain or some larger business when they’d rather get service from someone right in their area―they just don’t know it’s available,” Krueger says.
Subvia’s mission is to shine a light on hyperlocal goods and services that would otherwise be difficult to find. When you download the app, you’re immediately presented with the opportunity to discover commerce opportunities in your local community. As soon as you start scrolling, you’ll see suggestions from your friend network and your geographic location.
When it comes to attracting sellers, Subvia will have to consider some big competition―namely, Etsy. “Subvia is focused on creating recurring income for sellers,” Krueger tells me. “If you’re on Etsy, you don’t get subscribers. A great way to think about it is Etsy is this great global crafts marketplace, but you can’t get your hair cut on Etsy, and you definitely can’t form a relationship with someone to come provide you with a good or service that’s recurring, where you can say, ‘Look, I need you to come mow my lawn every week, I need you to cut my hair every month, I need you to bring me a batch of cookies every fourteen days.’ That’s a big differentiator.”
According to Krueger, none of Subvia’s competitors are hyperlocal or community-focused. They eschew networks designed to support micropreneurs and instead focus on one-off sales of goods instead of continual purchases of both goods and services. Subvia is betting on the power of community―on relationships that drive subscription sales.
After all, if Krueger and Moody’s local community was enough to inspire them to build a new platform, then perhaps Subvia’s ability to enhance communal interactions will lead to even more innovation for others in the future.
Apps enable creators to sell their products to small communities
Moody argues that Subvia is not just about connecting people within their own communities, it’s also about giving people total ownership over their income. “If we’ve learned anything here over the last 10 months,” he tells me, “[it’s] that stability is really critical to people.”
That observation pushed the founders to build a platform that would not only allow people to start their side hustles, it’s also aimed at helping them grow their side hustles and truly turn them into primary sources of income. Moody explains it like this: “I have a body, [so] I’m capable of providing a service of sorts. Let’s just say [you’re] really great at lawn-mowing or if you live in a wintery area, [you] can shovel snow. The service industry is booming and budding with opportunities of this nature.”
Chase Saxton, senior enterprise account executive at Adobe brings up another valid point: having a side hustle can help employees develop a sense of personal ownership when it comes to performing in their day jobs. “I’m such a huge advocate for side hustles,” he says. “Even if it never grows into something huge, it teaches such foundational principles because the mindset of an owner is completely different than that of an employee, if you have an employee who can have that mindset of an owner, it only makes a more effective employee.”
Saxton’s own side hustle is called Develop Bright. What began as a college project is now a digital agency that maintains over 170 customers per month and has a very unique focus: buying portions of different companies and then helping them grow digitally. Even though Develop Bright is focused on companies in the service industry, Saxton says that it helps inform the work he does at his full-time job by giving him a more insightful perspective when it comes to conducting enterprise sales.
On top of helping him understand marketing, finance, and operations more deeply, Develop Bright has helped Saxton communicate more emphatically with clients: “You’re not just trying to pitch them something; you’re not just trying to tell them why Adobe’s great,” he says. “You’re able to say, ‘Hey, listen. I get it: there are multiple business units impacted by this decision.’” It’s this ownership mindset that allows Saxton to truly excel.
Whether that sense of ownership comes from performing at an executive level or from financial freedom, having a side hustle can certainly add to your everyday life in a major way. “People want to be able to provide their own stability. That’s the most important thing we’ve learned over the last 10 months,” Moody affirms.
“I wish every single person in America would start a side hustle because I think the world would be a little bit [of] a better place,” Saxton says. “It would motivate every other company to be a little bit more competitive.”
Micropreneurship can give corporate employees a creative outlet
When I ask Saxton why he doesn’t leave Adobe to pursue his side hustle full-time, he explains that he loves the opportunity to be creative on his own time without bringing about any serious financial risk. He also thinks the work he does both at Adobe and at his own business helps to enrich his experience overall.
“Adobe is one of the best companies out there. Nothing I do [with my side hustle] conflicts with Adobe. They’ve been really great to help me find that creativity and passion,” he says. “Creativity keeps the mind busy which makes it so you can’t think ill thoughts, as funny as that sounds. [That’s] super pivotal in my mind.” ”
“We live in a very stressful time right now,” adds Val Hale, executive director at Utah Governor’s Office of economic development. For the past several years, Hale has been selling his wood carvings on Etsy to satisfy his creative side. “[Having] something at home that you can do instead of just sitting around and [watching] TV really helps your mental health.”
Hale carves everything from jewelry boxes to personalized figurines that serve as sought-after holiday gifts. “I have a whole variety of things I love creating. I’m a creative person to begin with,” he tells me. “I need to be creating and doing things.”
“My biggest advice would be to just start,” Horne says emphatically. “It’s so easy to be like, ‘Oh, well, what if we get too many orders in and don’t have enough inventory? Or what about this and what about this?’ You can run yourself into the ground and kill your own dream before you even get started worrying about all the what-ifs. Just start somewhere.”